September - 2007 - issue > Cover Feature
Sandeep Agarwal
Monday, September 3, 2007
In this era of drastic changes and supplies that do not meet the growing demand, there is a growing need to keep the team intact and use their experience to build a solid cohesive team. Over a period of time, the team members understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Below is a list of factors that I have found effective in building a solid cohesive team through my experience over the past few years:

1. Environment: Environment plays an important role in building a team culture; create an environment that is stress-free and flexible. It helps in raising the team’s energy levels the moment the members reach the workspot.

2. Vision: Many a time the team gets formed without a vision. The vision binds the team together to achieve a common goal. It is easier to look back and come on track when a crisis situation arises, or a setback is experienced in the team, either in terms of deliverables or human issues.

3. Value system: Values form the foundation of a team. Create a value system to give identity to the team. Values can be basically considered as team norms. Some examples could include attending meetings on time, respecting each other, criticizing in private, praising in public and keeping commitments. So, set the ground rules for building a solid team foundation.

4. Expectations: From the day a person joins the team, make it mandatory for him and his supervisor to set their mutual expectations. There are certain role expectations, and using these role expectations alongwith the team norms helps the member to be part of the team and solidify the team foundation.

5. Ownership: In simple terms, ownership means ‘to have the person complete his/her own tasks’ with a sense of responsibility. The tasks should never be re-assigned to another person in the team or to the leads or managers. If every person takes up the ownership and completes his or her own tasks, the team’s productivity increases to a great extent.

6. Communication: Create ways to allow communication in the team, both the top to the bottom and vice versa. Communications from the top can be in the form of goals for achievements, business and roadmap changes, planned vs. actual objectives, project or team changes. Communications from the bottom will be in the form of status reporting, queries about a task’s status, about risks and dependencies.

7. Motivation: The simplest form of motivation is appreciation. Appreciating the work done and bringing that to the notice of the entire team, drives self-motivation. It can also include timely reviews, regular tracking, and providing feedback at the right time. For higher levels of achievements, this can be in the form of awards, outings, and team celebrations.
8. Empowering teams: The team has to be empowered to take decisions according to the role it is assigned. The priorities can vary; senior members who are aware of the risk factors can take higher decisions.

9. Building Communities: Apart from their project works, the individuals need to have more networking and interactions with other teams and individuals. This can be achieved by building communities across technologies and similar interest areas to enable learning and sharing across the teams. This helps in building network contacts, to avoid any single point failures, and create more avenues for individuals and teams to grow.

10. Work-life balance: It’s a myth that when the team goes through work stress it helps in bonding the teams. In reality, it breaks the team apart after the project is delivered. Hence, it’s important that your work time is filled with humor, joy, and fun activities. This helps in breaking the stress. Giving importance to individuals and their families is also essential to maintain the close bonds. Achieving the right work-life balance results in more satisfaction, and hence greater team bonding.

He can be reached at Sandeep_Agarwal@mindtree.com

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