The strength of a team depends as much on the single individuals as it does on the relationships between them.

A team may be made up of the company’s best talents, but if there is no trust and mutual respect, it’s difficult to achieve great results. We can compare the office team to any sports team: if the group isn’t united it’s unlikely for it to win every game.

So what distinguishes successful teams from others? In this article we’ve collected some characteristics that make a difference.

1.   Frequent verbal communication

By now we are all used to writing rather than talking. Emails, WhatsApp, Telegram, Microsoft Teams, corporate chats… there are many platforms that make it possible to bypass direct (voice) contact.

However, misunderstandings can often arise between people due to a different use of punctuation and message interpretation or the use of terms that are not comprehended by everyone (for example between a salesperson and an IT person, or a marketer and a logistics employee).

A recent research has shown that communicating by voice (on the phone or video call) is much more effective, although it’s often avoided due to embarrassment, boredom or connection issues.

High-performing teams aren’t afraid to call and do it much more frequently.

2.   Communication transparency

Childish behaviour and reluctance to communicate have always been a source of discontent, both in private environments and at work.

Transparency must be a shared value, both in positive and negative cases. Acknowledging the work of others is the first step in motivating team members and is a behaviour that should be common among colleagues as well as managers and employees.

Similarly there shouldn’t be any lack of negative feedback, which should of course be done with respect and without hurting others, with a view to common growth.

3.   More strategic meetings

Fewer meetings, but strategically managed and planned. There is no point in wasting everyone’s time by organising continuous mini-meetings, which only result in fragmenting everyone’s working day.

Successful teams plan their meetings by giving individual members tasks to do in advance, preparing a consistent agenda and always starting with a work in progress check so that everyone is aligned.

In this article we’ve listed some useful tips to help you start implementing this type of approach in your group.

4.   Ability to have an overview

Everyone has to take responsibility for his or her own activities, helping colleagues when necessary. In successful teams everyone knows that they are part of a much larger and more complex system than their individual work.

We are therefore talking about overview and critical thinking, two elements which are necessary for one’s own professional growth and for that of the company as a whole.

5.   Time invested in building relationships

The last (but by no means least!) point is also the most personal.

Most managers disapprove of hearing their subordinates talk about non-work related topics. Yet the best performing (and therefore most productive) teams are those where work does not cover 100% of the working day.

Nonsense? Absolutely not. Chatting about extra-office issues helps to understand others better and create empathy. It fosters the development of friendships and ultimately a climate of trust that spills over into the working environment.

What, then, can be drawn from this brief insight? That the key point for successful teams is the relentless effort to have continuous, transparent and positive communication.

Because everyone’s abilities count, but teamwork often counts more.

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