You know effective teamwork is key.
After all, an effective team means your organization performs better.
But how do you make sure your teamwork is as productive as possible? Here are our 4 best tips.
Why Should You Focus on Teamwork?
First things first.
Why is teamwork so important?
A study from a few years ago shows why. This study found that companies that promote collaborative working are five times as likely to be high performing.
And a study by Stanford University confirms this. Humans are highly motivated by teamwork. In fact, working together makes us feel intrinsic motivation. This is the deepest form of motivation that makes work feel fun and rewarding.
So as you can see, there are several reasons for making sure your teamwork is effective.
What you might not know is that great teamwork doesn’t happen because of personalities, behavior, or attitude. Instead, what matters are enabling conditions in your team. These are:
A compelling goal, a strong structure, a supportive environment, and common understanding.
What do each of these enabling conditions mean?
Let’s find out.
1. Promote a Goal and a Purpose
What’s the best way to stay effective?
You guessed it- to feel motivated.
But not just that. The best way to stay effective is to feel you understand why you do something, your purpose.
After all, working for a purpose makes you intrinsically motivated, which means your motivation isn’t dependent on an external reward, like a monetary reward.
The same applies to your team members.
So, first, you need to decide on your organization’s big ‘why’.
Why do you do what you do?
Not sure how to figure out that ‘why’? This TED talk by Simon Sinek is a good starting point:
But how do you take this concept to an individual level?
Put another way, how do you communicate your ‘why’ so that it makes sense from every employee’s perspective?
There are four questions your employees want an answer to:
- Where are we going?
Explain to team members what the goal is. What are they working for? Your goal should be big enough to be motivating, but achievable so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
- How are we going to get there?
To get to your goal, you need a plan. After all, if you’re not clear on your plan, why would your team members believe that you as a team can achieve your goal?
- How can I contribute?
Team members WILL ask, “how can I help us achieve this goal”? And you need to give an answer to that question. Otherwise, what are they doing on the team?
- What’s in it for me?
Finally, make sure your team members understand how they benefit from your goal. A reward isn’t necessarily a big bonus or other monetary rewards. Instead, will this goal or purpose help your team members achieve new levels in their careers? Develop somehow? Learn a new skill?
Give an answer to those four questions and you immediately have more motivated (and effective) team members.
2. Your Team Needs a Strong Structure (It’s Not What You Think)
What is a strong structure?
Here’s what you need to know:
A strong structure doesn’t mean a ‘cultural fit’, which is a vague and arbitrary concept. Instead, it’s a proven model for what teams should look like.
Well-structured teams include different skills and people from different backgrounds. For example, some team members are skilled technically. Others are creative or have great social skills.
Then, you have team members with different views, socioeconomic or cultural backgrounds, age, race, gender… In other words, a diverse team.
Why is this important? Because diverse teams are less likely to get stuck on projects (there’s always someone who knows a way out). And they’re less likely to be prone to groupthink.
Of course, a diverse team means that there’s room for misunderstandings.
To solve this, set clear rules for communication.
For example, make sure you have rules in place for how people should respond to emails (when and how), how they should behave in meetings (speak up, not interrupt others, and come on time), and when and how people can be interrupted in their work.
But that’s not all.
While you do want to avoid groupthink, you need to make sure that your team can effectively communicate without disruptions.
3. How to Make Sure Your Team Members Communicate Better
If there’s one thing affecting your teamwork, it’s this:
Misinformation, misunderstandings, and a feeling of not belonging.
After all, digital tools can be extremely effective… But they can also work against us.
So how do you fix this?
Simple. You need to build a common understanding.
There are several ways to do this. Here are a few:
- Communicate often. Don’t keep information to yourself. Instead, set up systems for effective information sharing.
- Don’t just communicate during meetings. Meetings are one place to share information… But not the only one. In fact, if you hold meetings every time you need to communicate something, you end up with ineffective meetings and poor communication.
- Listen. Listen to every team member. They’re on the team for a reason… So make sure you get all team members to speak up.
With these steps, you make sure that information doesn’t go lost despite digital hiccups or miscommunication.
Now you know how to effectively communicate within your team. But that’s not all- your team members need your support to perform at their best.
Let’s find out how.
4. Why You Need to Create an Organization That Supports Team Members
The last step to effective teamwork?
Your organization needs to support its people.
What does this look like? Here are some fundamentals.
- Resources needed to do the work. First, your team members need to be able to work as seamlessly as possible. For example, they need access to data they need for their work and material that helps them perform their tasks.
- Training. Second, your team needs access to education and training that helps them excel. That way, they aren’t slowed down by not being at the forefront of their industries.
- Reward system. Third, good performance should be rewarded, so make sure you have a system in place for that.
You can optimize your support system and add even more elements to it. But these three areas are “must-haves”.
Now you know how to work more effectively as a team.
We’ve covered a lot… But there’s one more thing we need to look at.
Useful tools to create effective teamwork.
Tools That Will Help Your Team Work More Effectively
What are tools you can use to help your team members work effectively?
Here are our top picks:
Google Docs. Look, you don’t need a ton of different tools to implement these steps. Google Docs is a great starting point to add structure to your organization. For example, create a shared folder where you gather documents that talk about your organization’s ‘why’ or purpose. That way, you can always refer to this folder whenever you need to remind your team of your purpose.
Minute. Our own tool helps you structure your meetings in an effective way. You hold better meetings and your teamwork instantly becomes more effective. With the too, you can collaborate on meeting agendas, minutes, and follow-up items.
Slack. For communicating with your team, consider a chat app like Slack. Used right, it can help you avoid unnecessary meetings and miscommunication and get faster response times.
Trello. Trello is another great tool for teamwork (Asana is another alternative). This tool helps you structure your projects with kanban boards. With boards that tell you what you need to do, when and how, you have a full overview of what’s going on in a project.
Want to Make Sure Your Team is Effective?
There you have it. These are our 4 best tips for more effective teamwork.
What it comes down to is setting the foundations and then making sure those principles are used consistently.
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
What’s your best tip for effective team collaboration?