I am often asked, “What are the conditions for a good working group?” Years of working with groups have led me to 10 Principles for creating a positive and productive working group. Whether your group is at your job or a part of another organization, the ten principles still apply.
1. Recognize and acknowledge your strengths
Unless you recognize your own strengths and are comfortable with them, it will be difficult to recognize the strengths of others.
2. Recognize and acknowledge your weaknesses
By recognizing and acknowledging your weaknesses you are able and willing to find and appreciate others who can compensate for what you do not bring to the group.
3. Create an atmosphere for open dialogue
By promoting open dialogue and listening to dissenting opinions, you build the confidence of the team and avoid groupthink. Open dialogue allows each person to speak from his or her heart without fear of judgment.
4. Ensure self-correcting systems are in place
Identify ways you will know when a decision is moving in the wrong direction. As with blood tests taken by your doctor; there are normal values and when the results are outside of the normal values there could be a problem that requires more investigation. You want to have similar measures in place for your group.
5. Rely on individuals for their strengths
Rather than trying to “fix” the deficiencies of others, recognize their strengths and assist them in building on their strengths. When you do this, the deficiencies may disappear or not seem as important.
6. Create a healthy self-image for the group
The group must know it is important, valued and does good work. Reinforce the positives of the group.
7. Be open to outsiders
New ideas often come from those outside the organization. While outsiders may not understand the complexities of your situation, listen to their ideas with an open heart and open ears. They may spark a new direction or the best solutions to a problem.
8. Keep it light and positive
Laugh freely and enjoy each other. Even the tensest situations can be eased with a bit of laughter.
9. Accept conflict and generously work through it
Conflict can be a blessing—sometimes in disguise. Recognize the conflict, enter into it, explore and gain understanding. With a desire to resolve, not just quiet or fix a conflict, amazing advances can be made.
10. Do not overstress conformity
Diversity is often the mother of invention. Embrace diversity of thought, character, and style. Allow people to be themselves and you will find that each has a unique and amazing gift.
In short, bring out the best in each member and help them to bring out the best in each other.