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Teamwork: Doing It Right

April 9, 2021

We live in an era where unique personal qualities are valuable. An individual's creative skills, their charisma, and drive are important, for example. However, a lot of us don’t work alone, so these unique qualities have to be crafted to suit a team. 

What we mean by this is, these personal qualities are great, but when you work in a team you’ve got to modify these qualities to fit in with the rest of the team. Otherwise you will end up running a project and doing everything by yourself, because you will have alienated your teammates. 

It’s not uncommon to see the above scenario in work, and the cause of it is generally a lack of clear workflow, poor communication and a lack of motivation in teams on various projects. As you can imagine, it’s hard to gather a few people and say, “So you’re a team, here is the result we expect to get from you, start work now.” 

This approach will never work. Why? Because teams need a structure, people need a meaningful purpose, and individuals need to be motivated.

When you form a team you must consider what you’d like to achieve, and what it'll take to achieve this goal. So, when building a strong team you need to make sure that everyone in the team understands the mission, employees should see their daily tasks as a part of a larger plan, and it’s a good idea to introduce them to other team members. Knowing that an individual is part of something bigger is important for teamwork as it increases enthusiasm for work, and it also helps to shape the vision of those involved.

The overall team atmosphere is also extremely important. A friendly, welcoming, accepting team should work like a well-oiled mechanism. It’s important that each person understands that every person in the team has a certain place and a role to play. And in doing so, everyone realises that every person is important. 

We’ll now take a look at teamwork in more detail.

Skills Needed To Create A Successful Team  

There are certain skills needed to create a successful team. Here are the skills to consider: 

  • Soft skills are an essential part of teamwork. Examples of soft skills are, social skills, communication skills and empathy. These skills are incredibly important as they form the base of any team. Think about it, in a team you need to interact with colleagues, clients, and managers, you’ll have to get to know your workmates, respect them, listen and hear what they are saying, encourage others and inspire those in your team. It’s also optional but helpful in some cases to participate in corporate social activities. Such gatherings are like the ‘campfires’ that Jitske Kramer discusses in her presentation on Corporate Tribes. These spaces should be neutral. 
  • Professional characteristics like focusing on offering constructive help to those in a team, avoiding causing conflicts at work, speaking nicely about teammates, are all examples. Your knowledge and experience will help to improve these skills. 
  • Personal qualities like the ability to handle stress, add diversity and perspective to what your team does. We are all different which can be challenging but it can also be great in so many ways. A team can benefit terrifically if everyone has a say. 

Let’s check out some ideas on how you could build a successful team. 

Building a Successful Team That Lasts

Below are some ideas on how to nurture a successful team that can withstand the test of time. These are a handful of points but there are many more factors that influence teams. 

The very first step in forming a team is actually finding the right candidates and interviewing them. Things to consider here are, the skills of the person, their attitude towards work, and do you build rapport with them, amongst other factors too. 

Once you know who you’re working in a team with its good to decide who will be doing what. Think about what a new employee could work on and what tasks need to be entrusted to a more experienced worker. Giving tasks to the wrong person could cause upset in the team, for example.

It's crucial to think about team loyalty. Loyal employees become excellent team members, and they typically go beyond what is expected and do more. But how do you nurture loyalty and commitment in a team? It can be done through building a transparent system, setting clear goals for teammates to follow, showing appreciation and rewarding teammates, showing respect in the team, and having a friendly atmosphere.  

Another major point to remember is that team players are not born into their role, they are created and crafted by effort. This is vital. Nobody walks into a team and gets on with everyone and their tasks perfectly and straight away. It takes time for teams to build relationships.

Additionally, having a common goal and reminding others about it is essential for good teamwork. When people in a team know their roles and responsibilities it makes them feel valued because they know they are contributing to the bigger picture.  

Further to the above points, when working in a team it's vital to make decisions as a team. Discussion should be encouraged and everyone should be listened to and heard. Experiences should also be shared, and information should be exchanged between the members of a team. 

Furthermore, it’s also important to accept and welcome feedback (both positive and negative) from other members in the team. 

Moreover, while it makes sense to follow plans, it’s not all that bad to take tiny detours from the main plan occasionally. For example, if you need to delegate responsibilities to different team members that’s fine, or if you want to arrange catch ups and celebrations with your team, that’s also good. 

Finally, celebrate all your team’s successes. Arrange informal meetups, give rewards, say thank you, show your appreciation and recognize the effort that has been put in. 

Let’s have a look at the mistakes you should avoid. 

Try Not To Do These Mistakes 

The following common mistakes should be avoided when working in a team:

  • Don’t work without a goal 
  • Don’t work without a plan 
  • Don’t rush into changes
  • Don’t do anything that will harm the team’s work
  • Don’t forget about the basic principles of a team

It is difficult to avoid the common mistakes above, but it's not impossible. It’s important to acknowledge the above mistakes and to fix them as soon as they come up. 

Conclusion

Good teams need excellent communication to work effectively. In addition to this, teams need to understand where they are heading, and members of a team must know their role in this journey. If you would like to do some further reading check out or list of resources below. 

  • Twyla Tharp “The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together”;
  • Patrick Lencioni “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”;
  • Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton “The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance”; 
  • Daniel Coyle “The Culture Code” (The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups);
  • John Eliot and Kevin PritchardHelp the Helper: Building a Culture of Extreme Teamwork” .

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