Effective teamwork can increase productivity, produce better results and make work more enjoyable. Regardless of your role on a team, you will have a direct impact on its efficiency. Teamwork is a valuable skill, but it takes practice and development. These tips will help you work with a team to succeed in your next group project.
Create a productive work environment
Each team-based project will thrive in a different work environment depending on its team members, goals and deliverables. Begin your project by tailoring the physical space you occupy to meet your needs. When creating this space, think about tools you may require, access to contributors or stakeholders outside of your team and the time you will need to occupy the space.
Example: If you are working on a creative task that needs input from all members, find a room that will allow your team to maximize communication without affecting the rest of the workplace. Make sure your co-workers have all the tools they need to begin the project. If brainstorming is a key component of the project, make sure you have a physical or digital whiteboard available. For a project where team members meet occasionally to review individual work, a short standup in a common area may be a better fit.
Identify a clear purpose
Effective teamwork needs a defined goal. You can create a clear purpose by forming a mission statement, key performance indicator (KPI) or deliverable. A unified goal allows work to remain focused and helps with prioritization of your team's resources.
Clarifying why you are undertaking the project is just as important as developing the deliverable, goal or mission statement. This helps your team understand their roles and the purpose of the project, which can support long-term motivation.
Example: Once you have your work environment set up, begin your process by defining your purpose and goals as a team. A great way to approach this is to brainstorm a mission statement and write it out next to your team's deliverable. Make the mission statement and goal visible so your team will keep them in mind while they work on the project.
Open, honest and respectful communication is vital to effective teamwork. Team members need to feel comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions so each individual contributes to their full potential. Clear communication leads to more trust among team members and breaks down barriers that can slow down a team's work.
To set a foundation for strong communication, establish expectations and best practices. This includes when and how you should use different methods of communication such as emails, online messaging, phone calls and in-person meetings.
Example: If you have an ongoing project, schedule short meetings to review progress. Give every team member equal time to relay their wins and losses. Set aside time for the group to help solve problems an individual is facing or give constructive feedback. You might explain that you will be using chats to discuss day-to-day work and a weekly email to communicate important learnings, updates and milestones.
Recognize your team members
Recognition can help your fellow team members remember the importance of their role in the project and increase morale. Both team leaders and individual contributors should give positive feedback by noting exceptional work or praising a valuable idea. Recognizing your coworkers as you work toward a common goal can help motivate the entire team.
Example: During your scheduled meetings, plan time to recognize the successes of team members. Base these affirmations on milestones so team members understand what they have achieved and so other members know what work they should model going forward. The benchmarks can be small—you do not need to limit recognition to major achievements.
It is important to exercise your creativity and support the creativity of others during team-based projects. This includes taking and supporting risks. Creative problem solving and experimentation are vital concepts to engage in as a group. Doing so can utilize everyone's unique perspectives to create more thorough processes and solutions.
Example: Set aside time for brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming as a group allows for multiple solutions to one problem. Consider every suggestion a member makes regardless of how unconventional they seem. The more ideas your group explores, the more likely you are to find a solution.
Meet outside the workplace
While you may have tailored your work environment to meet all of your team's needs, sometimes team members feel more comfortable in a setting outside of work. Meetings outside of the workplace also allow coworkers to build rapport which can increase creativity. Taking time out of the office can also lead to the team growing closer as a unit. This will help you work together toward a common goal.
Example: Have a group lunch or meet at a coffee shop. You can start the meeting with a few short team-building exercises to help get everyone more comfortable and open for discussion. Depending on the length of your project, you may want to schedule a recurring event, such as a team lunch every two weeks to discuss new ideas and give recognition to individual team members.
Read More: 6 Ideas for Team Building Activities