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The 10 Traits of Effective Teams

three team membersAcross the globe, whether it is a work team, sports team, or non-profit team, there is something very special about a group of people that come together, bring their best self, and encourage and inspire others to be better every day.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of teams and I’ve learned how important it is to love what you do, where you work, and with whom you work. When you have those 3 things, it is magical! It is also highly likely that you are part of a highly effective team.

What are the key ingredients that create an effective team? Is it working for a great company, hiring the right skills for the position, having a well-defined process so everyone knows what to expect? There are so many things that go into creating an effective team. If you currently have an effective team, you know it is special and rare. Be sure to nurture it at every angle.

If you’re looking to build an effective team, here are 10 things to consider:


It is important to have your standard operating procedures (SOP) documented and understood by the team. For example, what you do and don’t do, how you do it, when you do it, why you do it, and clarity around who does it. Clear expectations keep everyone on the same page. When expectations are documented, communicated, and followed, it makes onboarding new staff easier, aids performance discussions, and allows the team to self-regulate.


Building an effective team starts in the hiring process. Hiring the best individual for the position is a critical factor for the team and your bottom line.

Never settle for a candidate because you need to fill a position. Your goal should always be to find a candidate that raises the effectiveness of your team. Include expectations in the job description. Provide as much information about the position and expectations upfront so the candidate has a good sense of how the team operates. Consider including a team video in the job posting to highlight what the team does, how they operate, and the team culture. Interview questions should help you gather information on the candidate and give them more information about how the team operates.


Onboarding is a critical function for team performance. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Be ready for your new hire. Equipment, training, and documentation should all be ready when they start.

If you want your new candidate to perform at their best, be sure to show them the best. You set the tone. Provide the candidate with their orientation and onboarding expectations. Have the team give them a warm welcome.


Having a friendly peer to go to increases a new hire’s engagement on the team and impacts team effectiveness. Assign a mentor for new hires on their first day. The new hire should understand when to go to their mentor, their manager, or their team for assistance. Mentor training is also important to set expectations and ensure the mentor has the skills needed to be an effective mentor to the new hires.

Team Dynamic

Nothing kills a team’s momentum quicker than an ineffective teammate. Team members that come in late, do the bare minimum, don’t communicate with the team, and take excessive breaks will negatively impact a team’s effectiveness.

Ask the team what is important to them. What do they expect of each other? Collect their feedback and consolidate their feedback anonymously and share it with the team as an opportunity for team discussion. Include the feedback in your team’s operating procedures. When a team defines what’s important to them, they will be more likely to embrace and nurture it.


When you think about great leadership, what comes to mind? Who are the best leaders in your life? Why are they the best? Leaders are typically people we admire and aspire to be. Encourage everyone on the team to be a leader. Discuss and define the difference between leadership and management. Leadership is a skillset, with many traits that can be enhanced through discussion, encouragement, and training. When leadership is not a position, it allows everyone to step up, self-manage, and build an effective team of leaders.

Continuous Improvement

Teams that embrace continuous improvement naturally look for ways to make things better. Growth keeps things fresh and encourages engagement. Change doesn’t have to be because something is broken. Rather, change should happen when we have the knowledge and experience to do something better.


Make collaboration a priority. Understand that collaboration is different from communication. Communication is typically one-sided or meant to share information. True collaboration encourages discussion. It creates an atmosphere of sharing and growth.

For example, hold a daily team meeting to share lessons learned, allow for discussion, and to get to know each other. Creating an open and safe environment to ask questions builds trust and encourages team comradery.

Professional Development

An effective team is also an educated and well-rounded team. Beyond the classroom and virtual training, find opportunities for the team to be involved in committees and/or projects within the company. For tasks and meetings that don’t require management involvement, provide the opportunity to the team to encourage personal growth. Look for industry events and training, like ICMI, to reinforce skills and highlight the fact that the support profession is a career.

Have FUN!

It is important to laugh and have fun at work. We spend so much time at work and many of us want our work to be enjoyable. Sometimes you need to lead the way and give your team permission to have fun at work.

Create an outlet for the fun stuff. If you have a chat tool, create a room for people to share birthdays, funny memes, and clean jokes. Teams that play together often stay together!

Loving what you do, who you work with, and where you work is attainable. It requires intentional leadership and management. Once you build it and nurture it, others will see and feel the benefits and embrace it as well.

What a wonderful world this would be if we all worked on an effective team with coworkers that inspired the very best from everyone. Cheers to all the effective teams out there!