Effective Teamwork: Working together in a team seems to be ubiquitous in today’s professional world. Every employer looks for the perfect team player in their job postings, who must be able to fit in well with existing teams as well as be able to express their opinion and take on a leadership position. But does this idea really correspond to reality in everyday professional life? In many cases not, because although almost every company has teamwork on its head, many workers do most of their work on their own, and at most meet up with colleagues in meetings. The community of a team should not only be called out to employers but actually lived, as it makes them happy and motivates them. We show what makes successful and effective teamwork and how it works.
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11 Factors of Effective Teamwork
No matter in which industry and in which department: no company can do without effective teamwork. But how do I get a group of people to run to their full potential? We have discovered the secret of successful teams for you.
1. A shared vision
“The goals are considered to be significant and important by each team member.” This sentence is at the forefront of the characteristics of effective teams that Stanford University has put together for its students.
Only when everyone works toward the same goal with which they can identify can a sense of belonging and camaraderie emerge. An enormously important factor to establish a high work ethic in the team.
2. Good organization
A successful team does not run blind. Each team member should be clear on what goal is being worked on – and where the work begins. What approach is used to achieve the common goal, which methods and measures are used?
The work organization finds its expression in a clear project planning with defined goals and milestones. This way you can see at any time which progress you have already made and on which part of the way the team is located. On the way to big goals, it can be helpful to name subgoals on which the team can focus on everyday life.
3. Shared responsibility
“I have nothing to do with that, it’s not my responsibility.” You will not hear that phrase in really good teams. At least not when it comes to psychologist and business angel Keith Goudy, who shared his observations of excellent teams with Fast Company. Again, this factor has to do with the work ethic of the team: Does each member feel responsible for the overall success of the team? Or is it “the project of colleague XY”?
Do people in a meeting turn to their computers and smartphones while someone else is talking? Then it is probably not so far with the joint committee. In good teams, working sessions should be more like a pot of money in the middle of the table. In such an atmosphere, Goudy notes, the boundaries between individuals and loyalty to the team are rising.
4. A clear role allocation
In an excellent team, the individual gears in the transmission mesh optimally. Each team member takes on the tasks assigned to them and tries to meet the expectations of others – or even to exceed them.
The corporate coach Glenn Llopis emphasizes in his article for Forbes that this may only be the case when individual employees do not work exactly in the role attributed to them according to the job profile. Employees who are pale-skinned may develop their full strengths into an interface position in communications and organization – as an oil in the transmission, as it were. That’s how they make the team as a whole more efficient.
5. A pleasant, respectful work atmosphere
In their statement of the characteristics of effective teams, Stanford University calls an “informal, pleasant, relaxed” working atmosphere. This is not about putting your feet up or sailing at half strength. But: too much pressure and competition can damage the work in the team. Each team member should feel well cared for and involved. It should be able to express its ideas, worries, and needs freely and to face the input of other team members also open-minded.
Incidentally, respect for one another also includes basics such as punctuality, preparing for meetings or adhering to deadlines. These foundations of effective teamwork must also be accepted by the individualists in order not to torpedo the work of the group.
6. Transparent, honest communication
In successful teams, there is no Eigenbrötelei. As a rule, decisions are taken together. If this is not sensible or even possible, the members of the team will be informed at least in good time. The reason: The solo efforts of a colleague – and also a supervisor – can be perceived by the team members as ignorant or patronizing if they are deprived of the insight into the decision-making basis. In the worst case, it involves the motivation of the individual and the productivity of the team.
Keith Goudy recommends that teams ask themselves the following questions: Do we communicate a lot – or once a quarter? Do we know how we can help each other? Does anyone have access to the information he needs to do his job as effectively as possible? Do we communicate so that the team as a whole can better achieve its goals?
Distributed teams should consider our articles as the most widely used tools for team communication and social enterprise solutions.
7. Hierarchy as a minor matter
Most teams are hierarchically organized in some way. That’s alright, after all, someone has to be responsible for overarching organizational and governance issues. However, hierarchies have side effects: they direct the team members’ eyes to issues of control and responsibility – the team members become individualists again, the common goal may be fading into the background.
For example, Stanford University recommends that the “Team Lead” be rotated to make it easier to focus on the question, “How do we get the job done?”.
8. Constructive handling of conflicts
You do not always agree. But simply ignoring disagreements or discomforts or quickly overruling the “troublemaker” is not the right approach. Because perhaps the opposite opinion is justified or draws attention to problems that need to be resolved. Teams in which disagreements can be discussed discover and remedy problems that might not come to light much later. At the same time, they minimize the risk that individual team members “quit” mentally because they no longer identify with the general direction of the group.
Very important: Conflicts should not only be spoken, but they should also be resolved in the best sense of the team. Should there actually be conflicts that can not be resolved, the group must consider a modus operandi, in which the discrepancies do not discourage work in the team.
9. The view beyond the horizon
As Lisa Mooney writes in her article on effective teamwork, diversity makes a working group stronger – if only because more suggestions and ideas simply get on the table. Different perspectives ensure disruption – which in turn is a prerequisite for innovation.
Team members should not be afraid to question established structures and working practices and, once again, to break new ground to promote creativity. Because who breaks out of routine, comes up with completely new ideas.
10. Feedback, feedback, feedback
To develop further you need feedback – a good feedback culture is, therefore, an essential part of effective teamwork. Team leadership’s frequent and proactive feedback not only helps keep the team on the right course and helps prevent problems. But, it also helps every member of the team to improve. The feedback does not always have to be positive, but in any case constructive.
11. Celebrate success!
Celebrating success is also a type of feedback. But, at the level of the entire team celebrating achieved milestones or special achievements is a good teambuilding exercise. It fosters the personal bond between the team members, welds together and rejoins the common vision. As a result, the team is usually more motivated and more likely to survive. So: often pop the corks!
What experiences have you done? What is especially important for successful and effective teamwork?
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