An effective team is necessary for your practice to function efficiently. More than just a group of people working together to perform a set of tasks, a team operates as a cohesive unit that seeks to achieve common goals.

“Think of your staff as a sports team in which each player has defined roles they clearly understand,” says George Karkoulas, president of the private client group at Hampton Securities Ltd. in Toronto. “The roles must be aligned to the goals of your practice.”

Therefore, unless each team member performs at his or her best, you will fall short of your goals. Or, in the case of the sports team, you would lose the game.

Here are strategies you can use to make your team more effective:

> Instil trust
Leadership is integral to the success of your team. “As the leader,” Karkoulas says, “it is important that you earn the trust and respect of your team members and be true to your word.”

That trust is not limited to the team leader, Karkoulas adds: “You also have to ensure there is trust and respect among your team members.”

> Set a common goal
The success of your practice is predicated upon all team members working toward a common goal. Your goal must be clearly defined and the steps to achieving it must be well articulated and communicated to team members.

“People need to know their roles and how they are going to be held accountable,” Karkoulas says. “Make sure they know what to expect from you and what you expect from them.”

> Get buy-in
Team members must “buy in” to what you are trying to achieve. To ensure your team members feel involved, get them to participate in the decision-making process, Karkoulas says.

Also make sure your team meetings are not dominated by a few individuals. Encourage participation by each member, regardless of how small their contribution.

“You should have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each member,” Karkoulas says. And you should make effective use of that knowledge.

As well, let team members have input when you are hiring new team members.

In the end, you, as the leader, will have the final decision.

> Demonstrate belief in your team
Rather than trying to dominate the direction of your team, give members the chance come up with new ideas and opportunities to grow your practice. “You’re letting them take charge of their own success,” Karkoulas says.

This form of empowerment not only shows that you trust their abilities but gives them a chance to prove themselves as valuable team members.

Should conflicts arise, Karkoulas says, “work out ways to resolve them.”

> Provide appropriate rewards
You can reward individuals or the entire team for success.

“Team rewards allow people to work closer,” Karkoulas says. So, if success is a result of a team effort, rewarding the entire team would be appropriate. If individual team members are to be rewarded, let the team decide on who gets the reward.

If you are celebrating a team success, Karkoulis says, “Ensure the entire organization knows about it.”