I have always said that having a strong, productive team is the best way to achieve great things. 

Establishing a strong team has been a strong focus of mine throughout my career.  And fortunately, it has benefited both me and my fellow team members.

I’d like to share three of my top tips for establishing a strong – and productive – team.

Step 1: Your Ideal Team

The first step is to make sure you are working with the team that you want to be working with.  Success for any leader begins with having the team you want. 

I recommend that every manager clearly think through the qualities they want in their team members.  I’m referring to both “above the line” (skills and knowledge) competencies that can be easily trained and “below the line” (behavioural) competencies such as empathy, results orientation, drive which are more difficult to train and develop.

If you inherit a team, you very quickly need to evaluate how productive each member is.

It is equally important to be upfront and clear about your expectations.  You also need to check that people understand your expectations. 

If you are starting from scratch, you need to build the team with those desired competencies as mandatory.

Step 2: Set Productivity Expectations

The second step is to establish productivity expectations – as individuals and as a team.

I tend to endorse the Clear Concept approach to productivity:

Your Information: Get organized; Establish one central task tracking system and apply the Touch it Once principle for any quick hits.

Your Time: Determine how you want to allocate your time; establish a general routine around your priorities and focus (instead of multi-task).

Your Plan: Prioritize your work by category and stay focused; plan each day; plan your projects; set and plan around deadlines; and manage the root causes of procrastination as it arises.

Step 3: Regular Feedback

The third step is to establish a plan around how to give (and get!) feedback.

I really like the formal monthly sit down where we talk about the current work  and general issue management. I will also ensure regular informal communication throughout the month via phone calls, emails and informal chats.

While my preference is not to micro-manage, I also strive to keep myself available and responsive.  I will be clear about the rules of engagement.  In other words, I want my team to know what my expectations are around their response time when I reach out to them.

While leading teams is a dynamic and changing process over time, once you have these basics in place, anything is possible.