by Gwyn Williams and Bruce Milroy


At its simplest, a team can be described as a ‘group of people with a common goal or purpose’. This topic will show how you can create that sense of having a common purpose and belonging that will help the team to come together as one unit, performing at a higher level than a number of separate individuals might do.

In modern life, high-performing teams have become the Holy Grail for effective and successful organisations. In addition, it has become a cliché that change is the only constant. You can change technology, markets and products, or the country or continent you work in; you can even change the shape of the organisation in pursuit of competitive advantage.

What doesn’t seem to change, however, is that sustainable success is achieved through people working together in a variety of ways, whether in functional groups, or in cross-functional and/or project groups brought together for specific tasks. Highly effective teams are an increasingly important way of achieving results and remaining competitive in the current economic climate.

Even though most of us are familiar with the term ‘team’, we often struggle to create a clear picture of what a team is, why one will outperform another and what conditions need to be met to establish high-performing teams. This topic explains the characteristics of an effective team, suggests ways to create the best possible environment and conditions, and includes simple tools to help you set about building a high-performing team.

Top tip

As a manager and team leader, it is important to recognise that teams are made up of individuals, each of whom has a different view of the world, a different set of personal values and beliefs, and different ideas on how a team should be managed.

Treat your people as individuals, listen to their views, and help them to understand that if they learn to appreciate the different skills available in the team, they will be able to achieve more together.

The value of teams is widely accepted and the potential benefits are significant, but it is often difficult to make it work in practice. We need to discover the common elements that are combined to build an effective team and how you, as the team-leader, can go about modelling these factors to create an environment with ‘all the right stuff’ to enable a group of individuals to perform effectively as a team. While some of these elements may be counter-intuitive – for example, building the team should never become the primary goal – most of it is actually common sense.

All teams, however they are structured and whatever their goal, must deal with common development needs and issues in order to become high performers. It is critical for managers and leaders to be effective team builders if they are to achieve their business aims and get the best out of people. Constant vigilance is required to ensure the team leader builds and sustains an effective and efficient team.