Why are some teams efficient and others completely incompetent? Why do some people work together incredibly well, while others bungle everything?
Teamwork doesn’t just happen. Imagine a teacher asking their students to do group work. You might think that the teacher’s job is done once they assign the groups and that the kids should automatically know how to work together.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. And sadly, the same thing happens in the workplace.
But how can you deal with that? Start by reading the article below.
What Is Teamwork?
Defining teamwork as simply working in teams is logically correct, but conceptually restrictive.
Teamwork is a reflection of the organizational culture. If the organizational culture focuses on building relationships, solving problems, listening and effectively managing conflict, the employees will work in successful teams.
Besides, teams are made of people. Everyone has their pros and cons, different perspectives, experiences and abilities to interact with others. Cliché as it may sound, no one is the same.
Putting a team together is a complex issue because it depends on idiosyncratic abilities, as well as difficult-to-quantify communication skills. So when a team functions without support, it’s a downright miracle.
So how can a team become strong, well-balanced, and effective? Successful teams follow the 10 advice below:
1. Make The Goals Crystal Clear
Everyone on the team should understand what needs to be done and be committed to the goals, as well as the company’s mission and vision.
That entails giving the team a clear direction and helping them set realistic and quantifiable goals. The team members should all agree on their purposes and refer to the team’s mission whenever they want to tackle a new objective.
All this translates into team clarity. If the company’s organizational culture is directed by a precise mission embraced by everyone, the team will understand the importance of goal setting and they can be held accountable.
2. Create A Trust-based Environment
The team members should be able to trust each other. That trust stems from the organizational culture as well. If the team leaders are not afraid of speaking up, arguing for their opinions or taking reasonable risks, the team members won’t be either.
Team members shouldn’t face disciplinary actions for disagreeing. Instead, different opinions should be encouraged and appreciated.
3. Insist On Respect
Communication is by definition honest, transparent, and respectful. Even if team members are free to advocate for their beliefs, encouraged to speak up when they find errors, and find innovative solutions, they should do so respectfully.
This starts with active listening.
Some people listen only to build a counter-argument that helps prove their point or to demolish the other person’s idea.
Instead, successful teamwork is based on feeling heard. When someone is presenting their idea, they should do so confident that everyone is trying to understand their point, not undermine it.
4. Create A Strong Sense Of Loyalty
Teamwork is based on loyalty to the group and a sense of belonging. Team members that feel they work in a trustworthy, respectful environment with co-workers that share their goals will be loyal to the group.
However, loyalty isn’t born out of the ether. More likely, it is brought into being by comprehensive interaction guidelines that specify precise behavioral norms.
Loyalty to the group doesn’t mean a lack of contradictory opinions. Loyalty is born in an open environment that allows people to argue with facts and find the best course together.
5. Focus on Creativity
Creativity is the cornerstone of an effective team.
A team is formed when one people can’t find a good enough solution, so you need more people to work on a certain problem. But of course, these people have their differences.
The differences between the group’s members shouldn’t become weaknesses; they should be harnessed to increase the probability of finding an innovative solution.
Diversity is ultimately the engine of innovation and creativity.
6. Emphasize Constant Progress
Teamwork is effective when the team doesn’t become complacent. Constant evaluation of the team’s strategies and results shouldn’t bring dissension between its members. Instead, it should unify them.
A successful team is able to examine its guidelines, beliefs, and strategies in an analytical, descriptive manner that explains the possible errors and can outline creative solutions.
A successful team conducts constant appraisals of their results in review meetings that asses the team’s progress in a non-judgmental way.
7. Resolve All Conflicts That Arise
Conflict resolution is an essential skill whether we’re talking about individuals or groups of people.
Solving a conflict should be done with reason and shouldn’t be the result of impulsive practices. That’s why the team should have specific guidelines for solving issues that arise in its midst.
Conflict resolution starts with a clear diagnosis of the problem that is to be analyzed. Instead of placing the blame, taking sides or encouraging personality clashes, the team members should work together as one to come up with a creative solution.
Of course, this can be done only if all the members are motivated by attaining the team’s goal and if they have a strong sense of belonging.
8. Don’t Embrace Authoritative Leadership
Authoritative leadership aka directive leadership used to be the archetype for leading a team. Recent research suggests that participative leadership motivates team members, who hold themselves more accountable.
If all members take turns on leading the team, assigning tasks and evaluating progress, they will all feel responsible for the team’s results.
9. Have Support For Their Decisions
It’s a team’s job to make quality decisions and find innovative solutions, but it’s the management’s job to give enough support to implement these decisions.
That way, the team’s communication to management won’t be hindered by anything, and the team members will feel a sense of reward that helps them thrive.
Mastering all these practices takes time, but team building exercises help. Proficient teams don’t scowl at exercises because these improve their overall creativity.
Effective teams spend time creating a strong connection between their members. There are specific exercises you can do for any challenge or goal, without having to go to a fancy spa.
The bottom line is that every team can prove successful if it’s built properly, if it has management support and if it follows well-established interaction norms.