The following is a guest post from our friends at Summit CPA. To learn more about their firm and how to get in touch with them, see the About the Author section at the end.
In an age where autonomy seems to reign supreme, and more businesses have moved to a remote work environment, creating and maintaining good team collaboration can be challenging. Despite how the digital arena impacts the way we work, shrewd business leaders encourage their employees to strike a healthy balance between collaboration and autonomy because it works to their companies’ advantage.
When there’s too much collaboration in a workplace, there’s often little personal accountability or motivation among the staff. However, if your employees have too much autonomy, they can quickly become apathetic and disengage from the work at hand.
Your team can successfully foster a work environment that lends itself to creative thought, innovation, and, ultimately, larger profit margins, when they achieve the right balance. At Summit CPA, we know this to be true. We’ve been operating as a completely virtual firm for several years while maintaining a high performance team that works together to deliver services that aid client growth.
With that said, characteristics of high performing teams include cultivating a work environment that values both teamwork and personal performance, as well as providing the tools needed to champion both ideals.
Characteristics of Effective Teams
Before we dive into how to build a high performance team, we want to answer the question, “What are the characteristics of effective teams?”
The same characteristics of effective employee motivation can be used to describe a high performing team. Is your team guided by shared purpose, a clear vision and path toward that vision, and open communication? Do you celebrate successes and evaluate solutions for losses together? Do you enjoy spending time together, whether working or chatting more casually?
The foundation of an effective team is built on mutual respect and shared goals. Otherwise, you’re likely to experience some uphill-battle feelings when working together.
Building High Performance Teams
High performance teams are committed to championing their peers’ growth and accomplishments alongside their own success. In an effort to get your team to make this type of commitment, your employees must first establish trust with one another.
To build trust, you must create a process that fosters an organically formed bond between staff members. This process includes 3 steps:
1. Talk tactics at weekly meetings.
Having frequent tactical meetings where employees can identify, discuss, and solve issues is an excellent way to encourage your team to work together. In doing so, they can maintain an open line of communication about client work and other relevant aspects of your business.
2. Discuss strategy regularly.
Monthly meetings to discuss strategies for your business and client work can encourage your staff to work collaboratively. These meetings allow your team to plan ways to accomplish a shared goal.
3. Host work retreats annually.
Work retreats are great venues for your employees to connect (or reconnect) with their peers and the company as a whole. We recommend hosting a retreat with your whole team at least once a year to discuss your company’s vision, mission, core values, and long-term goals. This event can also be used to emphasize the importance of personal accountability in the workplace.
Depending on the size of the organization, we recommend also planning a departmental retreat once a year. This is an opportunity for people to connect with the others in their department at least two times per year: once on the all-team retreat and another time on the departmental retreat.
NOTE: For remote companies that don’t have facility costs, the cost of these retreats replace that expense.
Tools That Build High Performance Teams
Once you have a team in place that trusts one another and can work collaboratively, it’s imperative that you provide them with the right tools to continue working in this way.
At Summit CPA, we use Jetpack Workflow, which is an excellent fit for us. This workflow software is designed to help employees and teams finish a project or accomplish a task by documenting the steps it takes to do either.
The application specifically uses checklist management to avoid common risks:
- Having employees create different lists containing alternate steps for completing the same task.
- Potentially housing these lists in different locations.
These differences can easily lead to employees approaching the same job in a variety of ways due to the lack of uniformity and clarity around processes for each task.
Having access to a platform allows our team to manage tasks with ease through a set of steps and standards. This has streamlined our work processes and enabled our employees to work together more closely.
The software is especially beneficial for onboarding new staff members since the application clearly outlines what is required to complete a project or deliverable. In this way, any new hire can quickly identify what needs to be done and who is in charge of which task. By using the tool as a type of guide, new team members pick up on processes more quickly, which can bolster their performance and help them gain insight into how to work effectively with their peers.
Ready for this level of effectiveness? Try Jetpack Workflow for free for 14 days!
Why Maintaining a High Performance Team is a Must
The importance of forming and sustaining a high performance team cannot be overstated. The same goes for ensuring that your team has the resources you need to continue to work collaboratively. In doing so, your company is more likely to see substantial financial growth among the many other benefits associated with having staff in place who genuinely value teamwork.
Ultimately, the characteristics of an effective team come down to building each other up and remaining invested in each other’s success. Having meetings, standards, and processes in place will help foster this type of working relationship. Investing in your team in this way will only set your overall enterprise up for further success.
About the Author
Summit CPA Group is a fully distributed accounting firm and leading provider of Virtual CFO Services in North America. In addition to providing VCFO coaching, CPA firm augmentation, Summit CPA Group is building a community of CPA firm owners who want to learn how to provide or enhance their existing VCFO service offerings. The CFO Community includes: free monthly CPE webinars, a Slack network, and more. Join the community today and start getting the support you need to grow your firm!