Teamwork Makes The Dream Work: 5 Tips To Build An Effective Team
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” — African proverb (unknown source)
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An organisation is more than the sum of its individual; it is about how people cooperate to achieve a common goal. When more people brainstorm together, difficult problems can be solved and new ideas can be generated. The different perspectives can also provide learning opportunities for all. Furthermore, teamwork creates a healthy support system and builds morale. Team members can motivate each other to work harder and make the difficult days more bearable. In the long run, it prevents burnout, which is a common problem at the workplace. In addition, working together increases efficiency and productivity. When the workload is shared, this reduces pressure on the individual and allows the task to be completed within a shorter period.
However, the diversity of perspectives can also be the source of conflict. In the absence of respect and trust, this can result in bottlenecks that impede the efficiency of the team. When information is not shared between team members, it causes a misalignment in goals, and extra effort must be put into resolving mistakes. As such, it is important to build an effective team to avoid these pitfalls.
Here are five ways to build an effective team!
1. Build Trust and Respect
Building a culture of trust and respect creates a conducive environment for constructive feedback and minimises conflict. Respecting every member’s contribution makes them feel valued. This encourages them to speak their minds and put in more effort. A safe environment to speak up your opinion can also prevent groupthink, where the desire to achieve consensus results in an irrational decision. To establish respect, ground rules could be implemented, such as arriving at meetings on time and not interrupting when others are speaking.
Trust is also essential for good team management. The key aspects of trust include honesty, competency, commitment, reliability, and sincerity (Management Study Guide, n.d.). To create trust, the leader should be accountable to the team and keep to his or her word. Team members should also be reliable and complete their work to the best of their abilities. When there is trust, the team can function well even in the absence of the leader.
2. Have a Clear Map
Children may ask their parents before going on a long drive, “Where are we going and how do we get there?” Similarly, a team needs to know what the goal is and how to measure progress. One way to set goals is the acronym SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. These goals should be challenging to motivate the team to work harder, but achievable so that the team is not dispirited.
It is also important to recognise and reward team members along the way. People work hard because of extrinsic rewards such as recognition, pay and promotions, as well as intrinsic rewards such as satisfaction and meaning.
3. Evaluate Team Performance
Besides having clear goals and benchmarks, it is also important to evaluate team performance. A fun way to track progress is to have a shared scoreboard. This could be done physically or through digital mediums. Some apps that could help with workflow include Trello, Asana and Monday.com. Having regular check-ins can also be helpful, particularly during the pandemic where we may be required to work from home.
Evaluation also provides good opportunities for feedback and improvement. You may consider conducting an evaluation session to find out each member’s thoughts, as they may hold back their opinions in a group setting.
4. Create a Strong Team Structure
For an efficient team, you need to ensure the right mix of people is hired. There must be a good balance and diversity of skill sets or backgrounds. For example, if a company wishes to expand its operations into another country, locals can bring insight into a country’s culture and politics, or recognise the needs of the locals. A cosmopolitan member could bring insights into some difficulties faced when implementing similar solutions in other countries.
If you are a small business, it is also important to hire minimally. When hiring someone new, think about what the person could value-add to the team, and consider whether current members should be let go.
5. Communication is Key
While each member has their own contributions to the team, it is important to ensure that they share the information with each other. This ensures that the team is aligned and on track. One way to do this is to set up communication channels. Informal channels such as Microsoft Teams or a team WhatsApp chat could provide opportunities for members to make clarifications. This could also foster team bonding and create a supportive environment, where team members step up to help one another and resolve bottlenecks.
Creating proper documentation and workflows can also ensure that information can be properly handed over to the next person.
Just like sports, teamwork in the corporate setting requires strategy and working smart. Even the best player cannot win a match on their own – they need the support and combined effort of the team to succeed. When the team has a clear goal and direction to work towards, it makes their work meaningful and keeps them motivated.
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