8 Ways to Build a Dream Team

Zoe Weldon, Created

The saying “team work makes the dream work” is only relevant if your team…well…works!

We spoke to experts to uncover the key components of making a great team, including Assunta Cucca, owner of Kokoro Consultancy, a personal and employee business coaching practice, Dom Davenport our very own CEO and Hannah Rowland performance coach and Director of Product & Operations at Created.

Created On-boarding
Assunta Cucca

1. Trust

If there’s no trust, there’s no team

Assunta Cucca

Trust is the foundation of any company, team or project, but can be tricky to foster. We rate Brené Browns The Seven Elements of Trust, which illustrates the different elements that build trust in a team.

For instance, you need clear boundaries. These can be personal or set by the company. You need to be reliable, because if you don’t deliver, trust is immediately threatened. Everyone needs to be accountable and speak up if they screw up, but also feel safe in the knowledge they’ll be supported, not blamed.

Other Seven Elements of Trust include generosity and giving your time and energy to fellow team members.

2. Give people responsibility

The teams that are empowered to do things are the strongest teams

Assunta Cucca

The role of a leader, self appointed or not, is to help people come up with the answers rather than giving it to them. Giving teams the space and autonomy to do this increases productivity and creativity. Team members need to feel a sense of ownership over their work.

Things to look out for are people becoming overly attached to ideas. As Hannah has seen on the Created courses, sometimes when you throw creatives together, ego can compromise what’s best for the project. If you spot this behaviour in your own team dynamic you should remind them why they are there – the common goal (see point 4 for more!).

3. Communication

Sometimes we feel like we are over communicating, but there is no way to over communicate

Assunta Cucca

We use Slack to stay in the loop and Asana to help us understand what all the teams are doing and feedback as necessary.

Whatever platform you choose, it’ll only work if everyone sticks to it!

Dom Davenport

4. Common goals

The sense of team comes from something bigger than all of us. It’s people aiming to do something that unites us all.

Dom Davenport

Any team needs a reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Whether it’s to create a theatre production, invent a new chocolate bar, build a rocket, or run pioneering design courses! Every member, no matter their role, needs to feel connected to the same purpose.

A shared vested interest doesn’t mean a lack of diversity in your team, however. On the contrary, these differences Dom refers to as the “grit in the oyster which make the pearl”. The hard part is aligning individuals towards one common goal. To do this every person needs to know exactly why they’re there and the unique talent they bring to the table.

5. Boundaries, structure and space

Create space and time to let people talk

Dom Davenport

Setting boundaries and structure gives creatives the ability to do what they do best.

Honestly! Don’t worry about being some freedom oppressing jerk who sets too many rules. That’s not what we’re talking about. If you give people the framework that allows them to set their own process, you’ll tap into their creativity, not squash it.

Setting up structures allows everyone to know what’s going on in the team and enhances communication without encroaching on people’s space and time.

Hannah Rowland

6. Make mistakes. Lots of them.

We are still learning, all of us. Some of the best ways to learn is to make mistakes.

Hannah Rowland

Mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes are data. However, if a team is afraid of making them this can lead to an unproductive culture.

When things go squiffy, it’s human nature to want a scapegoat to blame. But ultimately if someone makes a mistake, everyone who’s interacted with that person is responsible for the miscommunication. So reflect…how did this blunder happen and start seeking solutions. What can we do to change it and fix it? This mindset is what enables us to grow.

7. Feedback

Nothing can change if it’s not raised

Hannah Rowland

Hannah says “feedback should be part of your culture”. Something that people and teams should get used to giving and receiving. Otherwise, how are you supposed to grow as a team or business?

Don’t allow your feedback to become toxic. It can be hard, but remove the emotion and base it in fact.

At Created, we use the FINE model- Facts, Impact, Next Step and Evaluate. This approach empowers any member to speak up, but most importantly encourages action and change at the end of it.

8. Positive morale

We are not just people in roles, doing our jobs. We are actually a group of really lovely people.

Hannah Rowland

Treat your team like actual humanoids. You need to put effort into building a genuine connection. Be compassionate. Be sensitive to others. Ask your teammates how they are. Remember, we all have off-days.

We have daily catch ups where we’re upfront about how we’re feeling, rate our energy level on a 1-10 scale and ask for the support we need. We also remind ourselves to play: to be light and have fun whether it involves a (slightly too competitive) pub quiz, a hat competition or the most embarrassing exchange of dad jokes in history.

So there you have it. Our top 8 ways to make a dream team. Some ideas are harder in practice, so here’s a reading list to help with the trickier ones:

Build it, The Rebel Playbook by Glenn Elliot & Debra Corey

Time to Think by Nancy Kline

Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordan MacKenzie

Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, James Macanufo

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