In all honesty, I have never been a big fan of teamwork or jobs/projects that require working with other people. Not because I don’t like people, in fact, I love people. The reason why I hate group projects and things is because I’ve never been part of a good team. People either never do their work or don’t do things properly or miss deadlines or simply refuse to do or show up for anything. So, I usually end up doing most of the work myself. However, being out of high school doesn’t exclude me from working in groups. I’m at a job right now where I am working with a big team where we have less than two months to complete an enormous project. As much as I wish I could, there is no way I could do this job on my own, and because I like to get things done correctly, I have thrown myself into this team. In the last few weeks, we have all learnt so much as a team. Even though we had many obstacles, we are now such a well-oiled machine that I’ve almost rethought my opinion about teamwork in general. Today, in honour of the great people I have worked with and the respect I have for proper collaboration, I would like to share the tips I have learnt about working well in and having an effective team. For those of you who might not need these tips, I hope you still enjoy reading, but for those of you who are like me or simply want some suggestions, I hope you find something useful in this blog. Enjoy it!
Clarify roles and responsibilities
One of the first things you can do is to clarify exactly what the roles and responsibilities are for the job/project/task etc. at hand. I know that sometimes, things like this might seem easy or obvious. But, they aren’t always as clear as one might think and clarifying these types of things before you start working can save yourself a lot of potential problems and conflicts. The reason why I say this is because, for a team to succeed and work well, people need to know what their own individual roles and responsibilities are. This ensures all work gets done because there is nothing hidden in terms of who is responsible for what. But also, that people can’t blame each other for not completing work (because from the beginning everyone was made clearly aware of their individual roles and responsibilities). Another reason why it is essential to do this is because it can make everyone feel more part of the team when they are told what their role is and what they are responsible for. This is far better than people feeling uncertain when they have to keep asking what they can do, who is doing what or whether or not something has already been completed by someone else. Basically, clarifying the roles and responsibilities may seem a bit tiresome, but it will undoubtedly set your team up for starting on the right track.
Set clear goals
People always tend to be more successful and work more effectively when there is a clear goal set at the beginning, and this is no different for teams. Teams that sit together and are clear about the goals they want to achieve will usually work far more effectively together and be more successful than teams who don’t have clear goals or goals at all. Clear goals are essential because then everyone is aware of what the metaphorical finish line looks like, but they also bring people together and foster good teamwork. How is that so? Well everyone has differences, especially in a team where people are doing different jobs that will all come together. Having a clear goal can help everyone look past those small differences and see the bigger picture. That they have a bigger, shared and clear goal in mind that they would all like to achieve. Goals also give a team something to work towards, something to keep them focused and motivated but also something in common that turns them into one cohesive unit wanting to achieve a goal.
Make communication a priority
Oh, my word if there is one thing I cannot stress enough is that communication, communication and more communication are critical to ensuring that your team works together at all and has any hopes of being successful or productive. I know this sounds a bit dramatic but hear me out first. Think about how frustrating it can be to get things done when communication isn’t clear between two friends or partners (or whatever)? It’s a nightmare, right? Well now imagine that miscommunication in a team where people are dependent on each other, and they all have a job to do … What I’m trying to say is that if communication isn’t a priority, you’ll see that things start to fall apart very quickly. Make an effort to keep the communication channels open, update your team on new developments and encourage them to talk about everything from deadlines, to how their work is going to how their life is going even. Trust me, I’ve witnessed first-hand how catastrophic a lack of communication is, so let me just leave you with this little fact. The more open and committed you and your team are to communicating properly, the fewer problems you will have and the more effectively you will all work.
Always be respectful
Respect is key to getting anything done in the workplace, with people and in life in general. In fact, there are very few things you can pull off without a tiny bit of respect. Respect is an important thing to remember because being respectful illustrates that you care about the people you are working with. People may irritate you or be different to the people you usually interact with but being respectful in your interactions can go a long way to ensuring that things stay pleasant, peaceful and professional within your team. You don’t even have to like certain people on your team. (Because let’s face it, you will never get to always have a team where you get along swimmingly with everyone). But, being respectful shows that you care about your job and that you are the bigger person who will choose to act in the right way.
Create a positive and open environment
Okay, I’m not saying that your working environment has to be all happy colours and comfy couches where everyone feels relaxed, positive and motivated to work. ( If that is the case for you though then damn you are lucky and let me know where I can sign up). Sometimes we aren’t given the luxury of choosing our backdrop for our teamwork but what we can choose is the environment we want to create with our team. What I’m trying to say is that you should strive to create a work environment that is positive and where people feel open enough to share their thoughts and ideas without worry of judgement. If people are excited to go to work because you have a positive work environment, and people feel that they are heard by all and will not be judged, you’ll find that they will then feel a lot more obliged to commit to the team and get their work done to the best of their ability. Because their work doesn’t feel like a punishment filled with crushing negativity or where their opinion doesn’t matter. Have you ever just felt so excited to go to work and do what needs to get done because you get to work in a positive, open environment? Well, remember that good feeling next time you work in a team and try to recreate it for your team members. Because, if one person doing a one-person job can work effectively in that kind of environment, imagine what can be done by an entire team who feels that way …
Hold each other accountable
This one can be tough, but one thing that is vital to working well and having a capable team is being able to hold each other accountable. Now, this doesn’t mean that gives people the right to scream and shout and become nasty and unpleasant when work doesn’t get done, or inflict punishment when deadlines aren’t met. Absolutely not (because what if you had a really long day and meant to get that work done, but you’re having some issues and felt so tired that you fell asleep and never got to it? Then what?). That aside, you should still hold each other accountable. By this, I mean that if people don’t pull their weight, others shouldn’t pick up the slack and let the person get away with not doing what they agreed to do. The person who didn’t do what was required should be held accountable (in an appropriate, non-horrible way). This is important for a team because it shows that while you are a unit, you all are interdependent and so are equally reliant on everyone doing their parts to the best of their ability. Holding each other accountable means that even though you should try to keep things as light as possible, you all rise and fall together. So, you should not allow others to not do their part and get away with letting the team down.
Talk through conflicts
Conflicts are bound to happen when you are working in a team. Whether they are small or big, lots of different people working together with pressures, deadlines and the general stress of work is bound to ignite at least one conflict within your team. And that is okay. The important thing though is to make sure that you talk through your disagreements so that you can get past them. Not being able to get through conflict is like building a wall between your team members. When things aren’t resolved, tension boils, and people stay angry. So then, people don’t end up working nicely together, and overall the team is less productive. I know it can be hard to get through conflicts, but like I said earlier, every single one of you in your group rises and falls together. So, try not to let disagreements get in the way of your team getting things done. It may be a challenge, but talking through conflicts and getting past them is the only way to get your team back to working as a successful, cohesive unit.
Support each other
Picture an old greek or Italian temple with tall marble pillars holding everything together. Even though some might be crumbling, the structure doesn’t fall down. This is because even though a few pillars are struggling, all of the pillars supporting each other and sharing the burden of the task equally. That is what needs to happen in a team for you all to work well and effectively together. A key to keeping your team secure is supporting each other. Whether that means keeping them motivated in their tasks, helping them out if they are struggling or just giving them some extra kindness if they seem to be under a lot of pressure. The reason this is important is that as strong as we all are, everyone needs a little support sometimes. And, a good team player is one who knows how to support their fellow team members. It is also essential to support each other because if you need support at some stage, I’m sure you would also appreciate someone giving you a helping hand. By helping others when they need, they will also feel more obliged to help you. Nothing bad, except for maybe a little extra effort on your part, can come from supporting the other people in your team and doing so will only make your team that much stronger.
I know I mention this a lot in individual blog posts, but it is no less true now then it was the last time I brought it up. As much as we’d all like to think we are, we are not robots and cannot work tirelessly for hours and hours without something giving way to all of that pressure. So, you need to remember this when it comes to the people and things that need to get done in your team. As much as people need to be held accountable for what they are responsible for, sometimes things happen that are entirely out of our control. So, it is essential to remember to be reasonable. If someone didn’t do their work because they are lazy, then they should, by all means, be held accountable. However, if someone is having a really rough time and usually hands in everything on time, but it is one time a little late, you need to be reasonable. Nobody likes working with people who are unfair or unreasonable when things happen. That takes all of the goodness and sense of community out of the team. Even if things are frustrating and you are stressed, try to always be reasonable.
Rewards are okay, remember?
Hard work deserves rewards – I am a big believer in this. Let me just clarify though, you can’t reward every single little thing because that just gets ridiculous. People don’t need to get rewarded for every task that is completed because getting work done is expected, and you shouldn’t need to be rewarded for doing your job. However, when a project or significant task is complete, or people have done exceptionally well, they deserve a little recognition and reward for their hard work. Whether it is a small present, a bonus or just taking a break or a nice relaxing night in/out once things are done, everyone deserves to have a little reward and recognition for their hard work. Also, people tend to work better when they know that their hard work is acknowledged/recognised/rewarded because they don’t feel like they are working hard for nothing. You don’t have to get someone a new car for finishing a project, but giving praise and allowing them a night free from work or something like that is always a nice gesture.
Try to have a little fun
My last team tip may seem very cliched … Who am I kidding it is incredibly cliched, so once you are finished rolling your eyes, allow me to justify it. It is essential to try to have a little fun while working, especially in a team, because it helps you work better and stops things from getting too stressful or unpleasant. Okay, some workplaces may not allow for you to have fun while you are there (I mean there isn’t much fun you can make in a hospital), but you can still try to have a little fun in other ways. Take a break every now and then, go outside and laugh with your team members, make jokes about the project you are working on or make a fun plan or tradition that you have. That way, you keep things enjoyable and don’t end up hating what you are doing. But, you also become closer with your team members and as such will work far more effectively and well together. A job in itself may not be fun, but there is always a way to make the way you approach your job or deal with things to do with your job in a fun way.
And so there you have it! I hope that you all enjoyed today’s blog post and found it helpful, useful or even inspirational for the next time you need to work in a team. There are very few jobs nowadays that don’t require a little bit of teamwork, and so I hope that this blog helps any of you who might need this advice. For my questions of the day:
- Did I miss any tips that you think people should know about?
- Have you ever had a really bad/funny team experience that you’d like to share?
Thank you all so much for reading! This blog has grown so much since it started and that is all thanks to you! Please don’t forget to hit that little like button if you enjoyed the post and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on future blog posts. You guys are all amazing, and I will see you on Saturday!
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx
I had a hilariously terrible group experience that involved several people who spoke English as a second language. We were writing a research proposal, but somehow, one of the members didn’t quite understand the research question that I thought the entire group had agreed upon. He proceeded to write his entire section on what he thought the topic was. In addition, he deleted the slides for our presentation because of his misguided interpretation of our topic. It was not at all fun in the moment, but looking back, I can sort of see the humor.
Great post as usual!
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Oh my word that sounds dreadful I’m so sorry!! At least now looking back it isn’t so traumatic and hopefully it hasn’t scared you off group work for all eternity … Thanks for reading and so glad you enjoyed! xx
A good read. Thanks Blondey
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A really good and unsughtful read. Thanks Blondey