The 12 Elements of a Joy-Filled Team


Jim leads an R&D team at a med tech firm. Medical products lay scattered across his desk. Like a child proudly showing his artwork, he provides a tour of each product in front of him. But this isn’t the tour he’s most excited about.

“Can I give you a tour of our team?”

We walk the office, stopping at desks to meet people. Names and questions are exchanged, revealing genuine appreciation of his working relationships. It’s not surprising that this team has generated some of the most successful new products in the market.

They really enjoy each other and what they do.

Like Jim, I feel like I won the lottery when it comes to my team at work. We greatly contribute to each other’s joy. Of course, like any team, we have our dysfunctions, personality conflicts and tension—we’re human—but we really do enjoy working together.

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Our team members operate in different geographic locations. Every two weeks we turn our webcams on for a virtual meeting, and a few times a year we try to all get together in one place. We don’t see each other every day. And yet I’m continually awestruck at our team’s collaboration, cohesion and mutual respect. For instance…

On a recent virtual meeting, we challenged each other about a performance issue. It wasn’t personal, but it was purposeful.

At a team event last year, people gave toasts to fellow team members and to the shared success that we’d had. It was emotional to see how much people cared.

What makes for a joy-filled team? What are the ingredients that stir emotion in people as they toast their team or that cause someone to be excited to give people a tour of their teammates?

From working with teams and researching trust and effectiveness in teams, I’ve found there are 12 key elements joy-filled teams tend to have in spades. Consider your primary team through these assessment questions:

  1. Does the team have a clear, motivating and memorable direction?
  2. Do team members set and maintain goals that align to the team direction?
  3. Does the team relentlessly aspire to grow?
  4. Are team meetings regularly evaluated and improved for maximum productivity?
  5. Can team members safely express their feelings?
  6. Does the compensation and rewards structure keep team members focused on their goals?
  7. Are team members satisfied with the relationships they have with others on the team?
  8. Are investments made to hire, develop and retain great team members?
  9. Do team members prioritize long-term objectives over their short-term motivations?
  10. Do team members collaborate generously with people outside the team?
  11. Does the team change its methods in order to achieve desired outcomes?
  12. Are team members proud of the team?

How does your team measure up across these 12 ingredients?

Regardless of industry, organizational context or team composition, any team can make progress toward these critical 12 factors by putting intention behind it.

Don’t you want your team to be filled with joy?

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