Michael McLafferty’s Keys to A Successful Team

Michael McLafferty ended a team call a few minutes before arriving at Rutgers Business School to give a seminar on how to work successfully in a team environment. Michael has over twenty-five years of experience providing services to businesses in healthcare. The timing of the call was ironic as it was a perfect example of what it takes to not only lead, but to be part of a successful work team. This is what Michael offered as keys to success:

  1. Synergy: Many audience questions centered around conflict. Michael’s interesting approach to dealing with conflict entailed beating conflict before it even begins. How does this happen? You create a synergistic relationship with your team. That way, conflict arises not only less but differently. If team members are in a comfortable environment where they feel supported, conflict tends to be more positive and resolved more quickly.
  2. Feed Off Each Other: As a consultant, Michael and his team deliver presentations. This is a strength of not only his team but his company. He attributed this his team’s “feeding off of each other.” Often, they use each other as sounding boards to bounce ideas in a variety of different areas. This builds trust among the members so that they know what each other will say at any given time.
  3. Our Goals, Your goals: As leader of the team, Michael, of course, makes it a point that everyone is aligned to the goals of the team and those of the company. He also ask his team members what are their career goals. He asks where they are and, even more importantly, where do they want to be. More than just asking, they created a plan together and even find resources to help the team member advance with their goal. Taking an interest in your team members outside of work lets them know that they are not seen as just a means to an end. This builds loyalty.
  4. Clear Communication: About seven times out of ten, an email you sent is being misunderstood by the person to whom you sent it. Then, an additional email is sent to clarify, followed by a response and eventually a call. Making assumptions is very dangerous. If there is any shadow of a doubt, no matter how small, clarify it. Verbal communication is preferred when possible. Remember, tone does not translate well via email. This ensures all on the team are working towards the same, understood goal.
  5. Outsider Opinion: Michael pointed something we all subconsciously know. When in a team, the opinion of an outsider to that group is met with serious consideration. An independent opinion is highly valued simply because it is from a fresh perspective and originates from outside the group. Sometimes it takes a pair of fresh eyes to look at the problem to inspire new ideas or creativity in the solution, given the outsider is qualified to give an opinion on the matter.

Whether you are in a team now or have been on one, you will undoubtedly be a part of a team again – whether business or personal. These tips can be practiced with just one other person or in your daily life as you interact with others both at work and outside. Michael closed with a “Food for Thought.” He felt the world would be a better place if we all collaborated more than we do now. To start, we can all learn how to both lead and be a part of, not just any team, but a successful one.

Ashley Morales is a student at Rutgers University and a Marketing Intern with C2G Partners.