Everyone is looking to increase productivity in teams and learn how to work together effectively.That’s what we will be learning today. What does it mean to work together effectively? How can it increase productivity? Learning how to work well with others is vital. You’ll find yourself needing to work with others your entire life – whether it’s to increase productivity in the workplace, making dinner, or rock climbing – whatever challenge you are facing, these skills will definitely come in handy.
HOW WORKING TOGETHER IS DEFINED
It’s one thing to define working together, and it’s another to define it in a way that it will work. Although the English language has some excellent definitions of working together / teamwork, the French have an even better one: esprit de corps. This phrase is roughly translated to a sense of unity and enthusiasm for a shared responsibility or interest. With this grand French definition in mind, we will then define working together as the oil that makes the team work well.
When we talk about working together, it’s usually in the context of a group of people working together towards a goal. You could argue that a team worked well when they have reached their goal. However, achieving the goal is not the sole determinant of a successful team. How this team reached their goal and what impression they left on each other is just as vital.Infact, there are many signs of a productive team. Here are a few that you can look out for when you next find yourself in a team:
The team experienced effective communication. There were little misunderstandings and if teammates don’t understand something, they sought to clarify immediately.
The team enjoyed good relations with one another. Everyone left feeling respected and valued. Google’s research on the perfect team found that the way teammates treated each other determined whether the team was good or bad.
On top of successfully reaching a goal, each member had the opportunity to develop new skills and experiences.
Support and trust.
The team supported each other and helped when necessary. Everyone would be happy to work with this team again. Lynda Gratton and Tamara J. Erickson found in their research on collaborative teams that support contributed to a sense of a community in a team.
Only a team that feels great together can eventually accomplish great things! Thus, when we speak about working together effectively, we mean that the goal was reached and the team dynamics are even better than before.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
This may seem like an obvious question with an obvious answer. But there are other hidden benefits of effective teamwork other than just reaching your goal.They include:
The sum is greater than its parts. When people work together effectively, they are often able to produce something more significant than on their own. When more people are involved, a bigger pool of ideas is generated. Different points of view lead to a broader source of solutions. Together, the team can determine which one is most effective.
Humans are social animals. We like being around other people, especially when we feel like we belong. The same effect is seen in teams. When people feel comfortable in a team, they experience heightened confidence, they communicate more freely, and they feel important and heard.
Working together in a group motivates everyone to be at the top of their game, ease tensions, and create a sense of community. Most of all, this increased competition often leads to innovation. People will try and think as creatively as possible to reach a solution.
A sense of achievement.
Team members will feel a sense of accomplishment when a team happily reached their goal. This increased confidence can have spillover effects into other parts of our lives. Have a big date coming up? Your achievements with your team can help you give that extra boost of self-confidence.
Learning, learning, and more learning. Every team member brings their strengths and skills to the table. This doesn’t only help a team reach their goal, but team members can learn from each other.
Practical Ways to Merge Teams Successfully
1. Create a clear and compelling cause.
To create a cohesion, team members must be provided with a convincing reason to be a part of the company mission. The more compelling and exciting the mission, the easier it is to inspire team members to want to be a part of what the company aspires to accomplish. When they are given a clear and gripping cause to be involved with, team members naturally become as passionate about the goals and objectives as their leaders. If team members do not care or are unclear about the goals and objectives presented to them, they will find all kinds of reasons not to work together. For collaboration to work, the vision and purpose must be clear.
2. Communicate expectations.
Collaboration must be communicated to team members as the minimum standard. To foster this, team members must be provided with defined individual and collective roles and responsibilities they will hold within the team. When they have a clear understanding of their position, each team member will work more effectively and without accidentally stepping on another person’s toes creating unforeseen conflicts. In a collaborative environment, each team member experiences what it means to take part in the shared responsibility of results. With this type of focus, what starts out as a goal becomes a crusade with the experience of success changing from an individual achievement into a bonded group experience building comrade and morale.
3. Establish team goals.
To drive success in team members it’s important to set measurable goals for each on a quarterly basis. The purpose of these goals is to provide team members with achievable wins. These wins have a magical way of breaking down barriers and creating positive momentum individually and collectively. Further, it’s imperative to re-evaluate goals and redirect whenever necessary. At each quarter’s end, the outcomes of quarterly goals must be made available to the whole team as a way to measure and celebrate progress, and to determine where improvements need to be made. Working with this type of transparency decreases confusion, finger-pointing and the disintegration of team cohesion.
4. Leverage team-member strengths.
To empower each team member, it is a great strategy to work with their strengths rather than working around their weaknesses. It is a good idea to have each member take a personality test such as the Myers-Briggs, and hold a team roundtable to share results. This is a great bonding exercise because the results allow each person to get to know themselves and their team members in a much deeper way. It also gives team members information about who to go to and for what based upon each person’s individual strengths. When teams are connected in this way, each member is set up for success because they are each assigned tasks that play to their respective strengths.
5. Foster cohesion between team members.
Cohesive teams are more successful. They are successful because each person on the team is included in as many large decisions as possible. When team members feel this type of inclusion, they feel the perceived significance of their role, causing them to naturally perform better. To be the most effective, teams should to participate in daily huddles where each member discusses their goals and objectives for day. This helps to avoid duplication of effort and competition between team members. These huddles keep everyone on the same playbook and enables team members to re-direct their efforts as needed.
6. Encourage innovation.
For teams to grow they must be encouraged to brainstorm and question the status quo in an open and non-judgmental environment. Team members must be coached and led to believe the challenges and obstacles they face can and will be overcome. When a “can-do” attitude is instilled it motivates team members to live up to those “can-do” expectations. It is also important to ask team members for their thoughts, their reasoning and ideas on a regular basis. The more connected and understood they feel to their manager or leader, the more motivated they will be to perform, impress, be creative and to exceed expectations.
7. Keep promises and honor requests.
Most requests and promises are held sacred within a team, but considered optional between other company units or customers. Taking a request from a customer seriously and demonstrating that the team is working to do what they say they are going to do, goes a long way towards building trust and blurring boundaries. The question every customer and every business unit asks of another is, can I count on you? Will you be there when I need you? Do you care about this as much as we do? When team members and customers feel they can depend upon you and your team to deliver what they expect, business grows, relationships grow as does revenue.
8. Encourage people to socialize outside of work.
We all lead busy personal lives and the thought of having one more corporate event we are obligated to attend can add stress. However, socializing with co-workers outside the office is an effective way to open channels of communication, to create a better understanding and break down any walls of pre-judgemental or mistrust between team members. When team members learn they share common interests or wrestle with some of the same challenges outside of work as others, they experience their team members as more real, which helps to decrease individual bias, stereotyping and false objectifying. When we see our team members as human, it makes it more difficult to point the finger at them.
9. Recognize, reward and celebrate collaborative behavior.
The legends of athletic dynasties or standout corporate successes consist of incredible collaborative efforts. Team members often sit in conversation reminiscing over how it all came together. Whether shared through video, newsletter, podcast, annual report or seminar, stories of great collaboration break down the walls of individualism and honor the collective accomplishment. Attaching performance rewards and bonuses to collaborative efforts sends the right message to team members about the values that are driving the business.