Team Working Guide

Improved performance through better team working

Every successful organisation needs effective teams: there’s the top team or senior management team; project teams; task or functional teams; multi-disciplinary teams; product or service delivery teams; customer-facing teams, and so on. How many different teams operate in your organisation? More importantly, how effective are they?

If they are performing fantastically well, then you don’t need to read this Leadership Guide right now. There must be something else you could be doing that would be more useful!

But if just one of your teams is not doing so well, or you think they could marginally or even significantly improve their performance, or should be getting better results than they are, then read on and decide for yourself how much it’s already costing you, and how we can help.

We all know that some teams work exceptionally well together, and some simply don’t. The truth is that every team could improve.

  • Poor teams could perform better
  • Good teams could be great
  • Great teams could become fantastic.

So what stops them? And what can you do about it?


Here are 5 things you can do right now to help your teams to work better.

1. Collaboration is essential.

One of the main benefits of team working is collaboration. It creates productivity through synergy when it works well, but problems with team dynamics and lack of motivation can destroy it. When that happens, there’s a lack of communication and reduced collaboration which makes the team far less innovative, less courageous, and less creative. When that happens they start to let customers down, miss deadlines, cause conflict between departments, and generally under perform.

Solution 1. Create Collaboration.

When collaboration is not happening, when there’s no synergy and a team is under-performing, you have to work ON the team before you can work IN the team. You need to tackle and sort out the team dynamics, challenge the lack of communication, improve motivation, create synergy and you’ll soon have the team working much more effectively.

2. Team size matters.

Research tells us that smaller teams work better, and are more efficient and effective than larger teams. In larger teams, individuals can become disconnected from the whole, and factions and cliques can start to appear. In smaller teams there’s better connection between team members, more joint ownership of success and joint commitment to fix failure, and more loyalty, commitment, support and mutual accountability.

Solution 2. Organise your teams.

If you have to be organised into large teams, departments or units for operational or logistical reasons, you can reduce potential problems and reap potential benefits by sub-dividing larger teams into smaller functional teams. Ideally a team should have no more than 10 members, and preferably 8 or fewer is better. You can avoid factions and cliques forming by maintaining ‘twin citizenship’ through systems and processes that promote effective communication, joint ownership and shared success.

3. Team working needs to be learned.

When you think about it, there is no logical reason why any team should automatically know how to operate effectively together, is there? In fact they may all have different ideas and opinions about what makes an effective team. That means that new teams have to agree what effective team working means before they can work out how they want to work together. Established teams need ways to integrate and accommodate new members, and all teams can and should find ways to improve the way they work together, and constantly seek to be more effective.

Solution 3. Learn about Team Working.

Teach your teams about team process and how to build trust and openness so that they can work together more effectively. You should encourage and enable them to support and challenge each other constructively. Teach them to be generous with praise and honest with criticism, value difference in each other, find ways to celebrate and reward effort as well as achievement, and they’ll start to work more effectively as a team.

4. Effective teams solve their own problems.

Some people think that an effective team does not have problems. The truth is that every team, even the best teams, will encounter problems from time to time. Problems are inevitable, so an effective team is NOT a team without problems. An effective team is one that has established systems and strategies to resolve problems. A fantastic team solves its own problems quickly as they arise, systematically finds workable solutions or compromises, and then immediately gets back to performing outstandingly well.

Solution 4. Learn about Problem Solving.

Increase team and individual awareness of interrelationships and dependencies so that they can identify problems early. Teach them problem solving techniques and negotiation skills so that they can analyse, diagnose and solve their own problems quickly, effectively and completely. Save yourself time. Delegate responsibility to them, then empower them to “fix it” and make them accountable for doing so.

5. Effective team working takes time.

If you’ve read this far you probably know which teams you want to perform better. All of your teams are, or should be, developing and getting better over time. To become high performing they have to develop through discrete stages. The problem is that it can take so long it becomes frustrating. They need appropriate guidance and encouragement to move through the stages, and opportunities to learn and improve, and then they will become fantastic – eventually! But sometimes we start to doubt that, so it would be great if you could have a guarantee. If only life was like that.

Solution 5. Set Aside Time, or Get Help.

First you need to be patient! You need to allow time for the team to develop through the stages and perform better. It will take time for them to learn how to review their performance effectively and discover ways to improve. You could give them the benefit of your guidance and advice if you have the time. Or you can decide to save time, speed up the process and invite a trusted, specialist company to do the work for you.

That’s us! We are experts in the field and you can trust us. Choose us to design, deliver and evaluate a bespoke Effective Team Development Programme and we’ll show you how to speed up the developmental process and measure the difference it makes. We’ll prove to you that it will make your team perform better, quicker and we’ll guarantee the results.

How much does it cost?

That’s a great question, but first how much is all of this already costing you?

First of all, any lack of collaboration, or failure to address and deal with problems, is already costing you in terms of lower productivity, inefficiencies and poor motivation of the CBA variety. These problems are often described collectively as disengagement. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace study (2013) only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. That means about one in eight workers are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organisations. The bulk of employees worldwide — 63% — are “not engaged,” meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes. And 24% are “actively disengaged,” indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity. I hope that’s not true in your organisation.

So how do you put a value on that?

This is a major concern of most leaders, and to keep it simple we recommend that you ask your HR Director and Finance Director. They will tell you that one way an employee is valued is equated to double (yes, double) their salary level. This is their “asset value” to your business and takes into account pay, sickness and holiday cover, equipment, office space, the value of their experience and knowledge to your organisation, and the cost of replacing them if they leave. That means that if your people are less effective by 10% that would be represented by 10% of double their gross salary. If they are operating at 20% inefficiency that would be represented by 20% of double their gross salary and so on. That can get very expensive very quickly and can go on, and on, and on…


If you want an example please read this. If not, skip to the next section.

Let’s make some assumptions and put some figures on it. You can insert your own real data into this calculation too and see how it works out. If you have 10 managers on £50k p.a. their total salary cost is £500k p.a. and their asset value to your organisation is £1 million p.a. (that’s 10 x £50k = salary cost x 2 = asset value i.e. double their salary cost).

If they are only 10% inefficient they are costing you £100k p.a. If they are 20% inefficient they are costing you £200k p.a. If you decide to spend £50k fixing it, your return on investment would be 200% to 400% in the first year. You would get a fantastic return on investment. Please check these calculations, or the real figures for your organisation, with your HR Director and Finance Director.


Once you have worked out how much it is already costing you and your business, you know how much you are losing and how much you really have to gain. You will be able to calculate how much you will save in the first year, and every year after that. All you have to do is put it right – fix it.


How can you trust us to fix it?

You can’t (I bet that was a surprise!). What you can do is trust us to do what we say we will do because we are reliable and honest, and can prove we do a great job. We will work with you and your people so that you and they can fix it. Like barristers in chambers, we are all experts in our fields of Leadership, Management and Team Development. You will be right to be confident when you decide to work with us because we work to CIPD Professional Standards and remember that we guarantee the results. You can rely on our outstanding track record evidenced by brilliant client testimonials.

But you might be thinking “Anyone can say that can’t they?” So please don’t just take our word for it!

Ourclient testimonials will tell you far more than we can about how effective we are.

Here are some examples of what clients have said about our team development work:

“Insightful. Interesting. A good step forward in improving team dynamics.”
D. Spagnoli, Head of Gatwick Express, Southern Railway.

“A huge thank you for the superb job that you did yesterday… Your handling of the group, timing and judgement were spot on. It was great working with you.”
Dr Jenny King, Director and Health Practice Lead, Edgecumbe Health

“I heard that yesterday’s team building event was fantastic”
T. H. Training Manager, SouthWest Trains.

“Building the Best Team: I had nothing but compliments…those who attended definitely benefited.”
D.D. Business Manager, Enterprise Link


What do you do next?

Well that’s really up to you. If you found this guide useful, or are concerned about what you might be losing, and decide you would like to talk confidentially to someone with the experience and expertise to help you to improve team performance in your organisation, please get in touch now. We look forward to hearing from you and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.