How to Optimize Successful Teams for Change

BY C. Lee Smith
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Operating a small business has much in common with evolution. Only the fittest organisms survive. Why? Because they adapt as the environment changes. Business owners might wish that they can continue to deliver the same product or service to a larger customer base every year. The truth is they must enhance their offerings, change production methods and update marketing tactics. Competitors stand ready to take a bit out of someone else’s profit margin. Wise business managers and owners can stay one step ahead by building successful teams using the following simple guidelines.

Optimizing Successful Teams

You may have just finished a project that required the expertise of team members who possessed number-​crunching and modeling skills. If your next project requires your organization to work on a vastly different project, such as creating an app that appeals to interior designers, you probably need to add another angle of talent to the team.

Before you begin recruiting your new team members, your first roadblock may pop up when a current team member or two protests. They don’t like the idea of changing who they’ll be working with. In fact, if you asked your employees to take a psychometric assessment, you’ll be able to predict which team members don’t like change of any kind.

Adapting to a new type of work and working with new employees can shock members of long- established teams. To make the transition easier, prepare to engage as a more active manager during the process. As Adam Bryant reminds us, “managing a team is not that simple. Leaders have to play a far more hands-​on role to make sure the group works well together and remains focused on the right priorities.” 

In your hands-​on approach, address the “status-​quo” resistance. A post on Nobl Academy suggests getting to the bottom of the resistance by asking questions. If your team members are afraid of change or don’t see the need, it’s your job as manager to reframe their perspective. One approach is to show “status quo as a loss to the organization.” If you have a competitor who’s about to win contracts that could go to your company, explain how much you stand to lose if there is no change.

Team Membership

After hearing out the concerns of existing team members, add the best person you can find. Yes, you need someone who possesses the right technical skills to develop and deliver the project.  But you should also determine, based on psychometric assessments, how well they collaborate with others. In any team setting, you want individuals who can maintain emotional control, especially if their ideas are rejected. You can’t afford to have team members throwing temper tantrums and slowing down the workflow because they didn’t get their way.

Groundwork for Team Success

Once your team is in place, set a kickoff meeting or a similar event, to launch the project parameters and lay out the deadlines and steps to be achieved. It never hurts to explain how this project will differ from previous ones. Doing so helps your employees reset their expectations.

If you’re assigning a new team lead for the project, it’s critically important to emphasize their role. You can reinforce the new dynamic by deferring to that person’s opinion during team meetings. If staff members come to you with questions, encourage them to get their answer from the team leader.

Guidelines for Interaction

When successful teams experience transition, they profit from strong leadership. They also need guidelines on expected behavior during meetings and when interacting with each other on a one-​to-​one basis. Allowing a team to develop their own culture for interaction and support can strengthen their loyalty to each other and the project. To avoid negative actions such as bullying or belittling, managers should always model the kind of behavior they expect their team to use. Taking the time to thank a contributor for their efforts demonstrates the benefits of appreciation and respect.

Managers can optimize successful teams by setting proper expectations, assigning tasks to members with appropriate skills and leading by example in terms of culture.

Photo on Pexels by Jopwell.