14 Characteristics of Great Teams (Part 2)

employee engagement and employee teamwork

14 Characteristics of Great Teams: Part 2 of 2

Earlier this week I posted the first 7 characteristics that great teams not only “do” but that they do better than the competition. Stating,”Whether you have a small business or not, cultivating these traits within your business and employee culture will give you a competitive advantage and put you in a position to gain ground when it comes to sales, customer loyalty and employee engagement. What’s more, it will make your business stronger – more successful not only in the short term but better prepared for the long haul.”

Here are 7 more characteristics of great teams: 

8. Great teams work their channels of public communication effectively.

Great teams don’t just release news, updates and other information to the public, they do so strategically. They have people assigned to address requests from the press and to communicate with the general public via web, social media and other online avenues. They don’t release information that would give competitors an edge; they play things close to the vest when it’s important to do so. On the other hand, great teams also know how to share information of human interest to garner fan affection and sympathy. How many times have you watched a game on television and heard one or more stories about a player’s rise from poverty or how they overcame an illness or faced a personal tragedy? And great teams make not only their coaches but their star players available to the public – and they also prep and train them to help them better present themselves in a positive light in the public eye.

  • Develop a communications schedule to support short and long term goals and objectives (which, of course, assumes that you have some type of written plan and specific sales, customer acquisition and retention and other goals). Once you have a basic schedule, use it strategically to develop customer engagement, provide education about your products and services and support current and future initiatives.
  • Part of communicating strategically is staying on point. This doesn’t mean that you only talk about your company, it means that even when sharing outside ideas and resources in order to build your reputation as an expert resource for your audience, everything that you share in outbound communications (email, social media, etc.) is on a topic that your audience would logically connect you or your business with. Make sense?
  • Invest in communications training for yourself and your staff. You can’t assume that all of your staff possess an intrinsic ability to communicate both effectively and appropriately. You may not even feel that these are strong points for you as a leader, personally. Write scripts. Train staff. Practice. Have a second pair of eyes review updates that will be posted to social media as well as blog posts, press releases, outbound correspondence, memos that will be added to invoices and other customer forms and even to internal memos (which could negatively impact your staff, and in turn, the morale of your workplace).Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Great teams take the time to do it right, the first time. Think about that NFL team, where mistakes could be not only costly but devastating, resulting in team losses, season destruction or even firings. Isn’t the extra effort and training worth it?
  • Share the story of your business and human interest stories about your team members. Get involved in your community and talk about that, too. Champion local schools and charitable causes. Lead ‘buy local’ campaigns that keep dollars in your community. Give people reasons to connect with you and your business emotionally and to identify themselves with your business and your brand. Give people reasons to believe that when they align themselves with your business through loyalty and referrals, they are part of something good, part of something truly special.

9. Great teams cultivate adoration – nay rabid enthusiasm – from among their fans.

They position themselves to appeal to the types of fans they most desire. They know who their most important and influential fans are. They establish emotional connections and develop loyalty that does just last for a season, but a lifetime; loyalty that is even passed on to the next generation. Their fans are not only willing to spend money to attend a game or order up a season’s worth via cable or satellite TV, but who are willing to purchase all kinds of extra merchandise for apparel or their homes in order to show that they are “part” of the team.

  • If you’re struggling just to get people in the door to begin with or with finding ways to get them to return a second time, thinking about how you could develop this type of loyalty might seem light years away from where you are right now. But here’s what I say: If they can do it, you can do it – because it can be done.
  • The way to begin is to focus on engagement and use customer relationship management techniques to move prospects to customer status and move customers through the customer lifecycle to the next level of relationship. For an overview, visit my recent post on engagement [click here].

10. The owners of great teams invest in the future and in adding the best players and coaches to their rosters. 

And it’s not just that they go after “the best” players or coaches; in fact, there are many great players and coaches they would not want on their team. But they do spend the money necessary to attract top players to their team who are not only experts or highly skilled at certain things, but they go after great players who also represent a good fit for their company, other team members and for the long term as well as short term. The owners of great teams are always investing toward the future.

  • What about you? Do you hire strategically? Do you wait for the right person or fill positions with ‘warm bodies?’ Do you consider the impact to other team members? Do you consider personality type? Do you prepare team members to welcome a new player that might be a superstar (and therefore represent a threat to existing team members or become the basis for jealousy and insecurity on the part of team members)?
  • Remember that long range plan – how are you investing for the future? Train and mentor team members to prepare for growth as well as enable it. Keep your team in the know when it comes to your vision for the future and the route you’ll take to get there. Ensure that people understand that they are important to you and that you value them, but that you’re also interested in helping them to develop personally and professionally. Build an employee culture that is safe and welcoming for all team members and help those prone to jealousy or insecurity (or help them to realize that they might be happier somewhere else). And ultimately, remember that your responsibility is not only to the individuals who work for you, but that you are responsible to your customers and your business, and what is best for all.
  • Part of thinking about the future and investing in it may require that you have difficult conversations with team members who may no longer be as invested in their role, who may not believe in or be supportive of where you want to grow your company, or who regularly negatively impact your employee culture in some way. Employer loyalty is a laudable virtue, especially today when so much of our economy is transient. But it is not a valid excuse for retaining employees who negatively impact your business, customers or their co-workers. Remember, the choice to support the initiatives, goals and objectives of your business, the choice to live out the mission and vision of the company belongs to each individual employee. If they can’t or won’t align themselves with the mission and vision of your organization – should they be there?

11. Great coaches know how to motivate and inspire players to perform even better than they believed they could. And great coaches know which players to put in, when, and how to call the right plays. Great coaches inspire confidence and trust in their players and other coaches and support staff. And on great teams, players have trust and faith in one another.

  • While we often think that emotion has no place in the workplace, have you ever watched what goes on on the field and on the sidelines during a game? Coaches and players get fired up, get excited, celebrate big plays, turnovers and scores. They raise their arms to fire up the crowd. Thousands or even more than a hundred thousand people, all excited about the same thing in the same place at the same time. This occurs because of emotional connection, not logic — and certainly not discounting!
  • Cultivate an employee culture of trust. Do what you say you will do and insist that all staff members do so, as well. Hold people accountable. Leave no room in your company for backbiting, gossip or individuals who choose to undermine the efforts of others or even corporate initiatives.
  • Don’t throw people under the bus publically. Part of being a great leader means that you will, occasionally, be the one who takes a hit because one of your employees makes a mistake. Taking that hit for someone else may be one of the most powerful signals you can send to your whole team that you have their backs, always.

12. Great teams play to win, and keep on playing to win. Great teams don’t get complacent and never seem to tire. They play every minute of every game until the final buzzer sounds. They don’t assume that any lead is safe. They don’t abandon the strategies and tactics that put them in the lead. Great teams keep on keeping on!

  • What about you? Have you relaxed your vigilance when it comes to competitors? Have you let programs lapse or failed to measure or follow up on initiatives? Here are 3 reasons you’re not playing to win.
  • Continue to execute the strategies and tactics which are bringing your small business desired results, a measure of stability and maybe even competitive advantage. Analyze the competition for weaknesses which might mean places you can gain ground for your small business. Maintain a mindset where you constantly scanning the field, thinking strategically and taking calculated risks in order to gain ground. Play to your strengths and bring great players to your team who can help ‘carry the ball’ even further.

13. Great teams reward and acknowledge great performances and loyalty.

Great performances are rewarded with game balls, sideline celebrations, most valuable player awards for games and seasons. Great players who prove themselves loyal have jerseys retired, get streets named after them and are inducted to team and even industry halls of fame. Not a game passes by – not a week when it comes to football and not even 2 days when it comes to sports like basketball – not a game passes by where performance is not recognized, acknowledged and rewarded.

  • What a model! Who have you acknowledged or thanked today? For that matter, when was the last time someone put in an acknowledgement-worthy performance in your business? If you can’t think of one, you’re either not paying attention or it’s (past) time to seriously evaluate and improve your employee culture.

14. Great teams are known for something.

No two teams are alike in specialty, mix of players, strategy or playbooks. No two teams look alike; in fact, teams go to great lengths to differentiate their visual brand identity.

  • Great companies are known for something. They are known for their specialties. Their founders. Their stories. Their charitable and public contributions. What is your business known for?
  • The path to success is not to be a copycat. The path to greatness is about identifying and choosing those traits, skills and specialties that will make your company different from the competition. It’s about identifying niche markets and finding where opportunity exists – you’re looking for the gaps and providing solutions there. You’re thinking about the future and developing products and services that will meet emerging customer needs and wants. You’re cultivating and educating prospects and customers. Set yourself apart!

14 Characteristics of Great Teams. Easy to write, not so easy to live up to – but start, today. Try today and try again tomorrow. Get your team on board; but remember, you have to believe in these things yourself, and endeavor to model them with authenticity to your team, before they will be willing to reciprocate – especially if there is a history where these traits were not part of your value system.

It’s going to be a great year!


Elizabeth Kraus is the author of 365 Days of Marketing.

If you want to build a business which provides the maximum when it comes to customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty as well as profitability, change the way that you  understand and use marketing.  365 Days of Marketing is available on amazon.com.
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