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Have you ever wondered what makes a team effective? What about your team…is it effective? The following characteristics have been identified in many of the most effective and successful teams. How many does your team have?

Clear Purpose

This vision, mission goals, or tasks of the team have been clearly defined. Each member of the team has accepted these and is working on the same action plan to achieve the identified goals.


The team climate tends to be informal, collegial, and relaxed. There are no obvious tensions and boredom is non-existent. 

Full Participation

All team members are expected to participate in a variety of methods. Members are vested in the outcome of the entire team.

Active Listening

The team members use effective listening skills such as questioning, restating, and summarizing to ensure clarity of statements and ideas.

Agree to Disagree

The team members accept the reality that disagreements will occur. They approach conflict constructively. There is no avoiding, smoothing over, or covering up conflict.

Team Decisions

For important decisions, there is a desire to make the decision by consensus. That is each individual is given an opportunity to be heard, the individual can live with the decision and most importantly, the individual will live with and support the decision.

Open communication

Team members feel free to express their feelings on team tasks as well as team functions.  There are limited “hidden agendas”.  Team members feel safe communicating openly and honestly.

Clear responsibility, authority, and accountability (RAA)

There are clear expectations for every team member and their roles (RAA). When action is taken, clear assignments are made, accepted, and carried out. Assignments are fair and distributed among all team members. Lack of accountability is addressed early and equitably. 

Shared Leadership

While there is a formal leader of the team, leadership functions shift from time to time depending upon the situation, team needs, and team member skills. The formal leader models acceptable behavior and supports the establishment of positive norms.

Variety of Styles

The team has a broad spectrum of member types including those that focus on vision, direction, details, goals setting, and task completion.


From time to time the best teams examine how well it is functioning and what may be interfering with optimal effectiveness.


After reading the above characteristics of effective teams consider turning each of the above statements into a simple survey for your current team to complete. Ask team members to rank each statement on a 1-5 Likert scale.  The results of the survey will help identify your team’s strengths as well as opportunities for improvement (OFIs). Once you know your OFIs then you can create a plan for strengthening your team’s effectiveness.