“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” –Henry Ford. Teams are everywhere in management, in the top of high-level international enterprises, and in the startup of a mom and pop store. They are essential to any project. Whether it be winning the Super Bowl, or meeting that tight deadline, without great team collaboration getting the best results is impossible.
Getting a team together is not enough, although it is all too often what happens on projects. Teams are assembled and left alone to “figure it out” leaving roles, responsibilities, and even communication up in the air. Managers are not only responsible for creating the team, but, for building and maintaining its cohesion as well.
Who is doing what?
Throwing a team together and leaving them to their devises rarely works, even if it is filled with great individual players. Often times people get confused on what to do if a problem comes out of nowhere, who is responsible? Who does what? These are just two of the many questions that follow if roles are left in the air.
Review team member’s roles often
Team’s need to know who is doing what more than just one time. Projects are figurative living creatures which are always changing. If left unchecked, team members can start to bicker with one another about who is responsible for what. “Unclear roles lead to assumptions about the role and the connected responsibilities. This way it’s ensured that assumptions don’t match with facts and frustration and disappointments are the results.” Writes Sebastian Radics in his article with Agile. When the roles are defined team members get through discussions faster and stay on topic by knowing who is in what role.
Create a response plan for events
As a manager when new problems (especially with risk management) arise there needs to be a meeting set up to review who will handle what when these events trigger.
Having a response plan ready gives team members the peace of mind knowing that they can rely on one another if a problem arises that needs to be taken care of. In the initial meeting, team leaders discuss what possible problems can occur during the team’s life and assign responsible team members to these said risks.
What do other team members do?
When building for a level of team collaboration a good technique to boost cohesion is for team leaders to take the time to get team members to learn what each other does and how their work contributes to the team’s overall mission. This increases team productivity by not only giving team members the opportunity for them to learn the work of other colleagues, but to get to know them better through their work. Daniela Molnau from ISixSigma writes:
“Interpersonal empathy is critical to confidence. Interpersonal empathy builds confidence within team members; once team confidence is achieved, individual confidence will then follow. The team must be aware of each member’s skills and personality. People on teams in which they knew one another better were more efficient and got more work done.”
Now that team members have this information about each other roles, another level of team collaboration can be built. Whenever co-workers have problems with an issue, he or she can rely on other team members for way to help them figure out resolution.
Do your teams have purpose?
Why are we here, what are we trying to accomplish? If a team is simply put together without being told what the goal is the result will be substandard or negative every time. Creating a strong purpose and overall goal for the team make a night and day difference. There are many strategies that go over how this can be done, but there are a few that stand out.
Talk about why the team was created and get everyone on board
Whether you are a manager who was promoted into a team, or are creating a team yourself there is one thing that you cannot forget to communicate. What is the goal of this team? One of the biggest motivational factors that is left out when building teams is discussing why it actually exists. Many times project managers simply assemble teams hoping that team collaboration is automatic and that they’ll find their way to the finish line by themselves just because they have to do the job. Fred C. Lunenburg from Sam Houston State University writes in his research “Goals need to be accepted. Simply assigning goals to organization members may not result in their commitment to those goals, especially if the goal will be difficult to accomplish.”
How do we get team members on board with the goal? There are many methods and tricks, and discussing all of them is well outside the scope of this post. One of the most important methods that we can touch on to get team members more connected with the goals is making team members part of the goal setting process. “Participation helps organization members better understand the goals, ensure that the goals are not unreasonable, and helps them achieve the goal”
There is no better way to get employees on board in this process than including them in the S.M.A.R.T goal creating system. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound. It is a double checking system to fortify your current goals, or build strong goals from the ground up.
Specific – what exactly is planned to be delivered?
e.g. Drive cost out of operations $65,000, by the end of Q3
Measurable – how can this goal be measured for progress?
e.g. Reduce costs and wasted spending by $22,000 per month
Attainable – what are the necessary resources needed to fulfil this goal
e.g. Review workflows, product vendors, distribution routes, and product safety measures to reduce waste.
Relevant – does the goal make sense to the project?
e.g. This would assist in making the company run much smoother.
Time bound – The deadline must be within the realm of possibility.
e.g. By the end of Q3
Normally the SMART system is set for personal use or for managers to take the goal creating into their own hands. Now leaders can use effective meetings to get team members more invested in the goal they helped build by going through the SMART method together and building on ideas.
Trust is a must
Trust is a word that has many definitions, and more often than not, it depends on its context. A scientist trusts that if they do something it will follow the rules discovered by those before him, a calculative form of trust. But what do people use? If a team is put together and there is no trust then accountability goes out the window. It becomes rarer and rarer that team members fess up when they are wrong out of mistrust in other co-workers. But if trust is something that is earned, how can managers get employees to trust one another to achieve great team collaboration?
As a manager, there are practices you can put into place that cut down on interpersonal mistrust. The most difficult thing is finding the root cause of much of these trust issues.
Eliminate gossip and talking about team member behind their backs
“Hey did you hear about Billy-joe? Yeah, he’s got a weird name.” Everyone gossips, it’s what we do when we want to fill in that void of the awkward silence, or to try to create conversation through a common ground. Speaking about team members behind their backs is truly deadly to your team. David writes in his post from Contemporary staffing solutions “Office gossip is toxic to a customer service team. Negative stories and wild speculation can lead to lost productivity, lowered morale, low employee engagement, and it can even send high-performing team members right out the door and into the waiting arms of your competitors.”
It is the team leader’s job to create trust, and therefore it is their job to nip gossiping in the bud. One of the best ways to use proper conflict management is to hit conflict head on and figure out why its starting. Having a team discuss problems with another is a great way to improve trust between team mates and overall increase team collaboration.
Give Co-workers the benefit of the doubt
Trust takes time, and with new teams there is often a mix of team members with a variety of trust history. How do we get other team members to build strong trust in one another? Start by simply trusting team members to do their part of their work. If you want trust as a team member or a leader you must first give that trust to whom you want it from. When team member make mistakes, give them the opportunity to rectify the situation. Making employees feel trusted comes back around in the long run.
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Good Communication is key
Miscommunication is the mother of all problems in a team; it can be the cause of some nasty conflicts, or even people resigning. Team leaders are responsible for cleaning and maintaining these communication lines and at times, it can be a rather dirty job.
Reduce miscommunication by making sure you are heard.
Many do not normally practice active listening, so it is on the team member and team leaders to take responsibility for being heard. When writing your emails it is crucial that you take the time to double check what you are writing to ensure that the message you are sending is the same message you want understood. Hastily written emails can lead to misunderstandings, which can create a domino effect of problems and ultimately, destroy team collaboration.
Let’s open the history books for a good example of this and take a look at a tiny misunderstanding that had drastic repercussions. At the end of world war two the USA and Allied nations wanted to avoid going into a land invasion of Japan, and reporters hounded Japan’s prime minister Minister Kantaro Suzuki for an answer to the questions on their stance in this current stage of the war. The Prime minister said “mokusatsu” which in Japanese means no comment, though it has many meanings. The translation that the Americans received was “not worthy of comment, held in silent contempt.” Americans were growing tired of Japan’s kamikaze spirit in that time and they took the comment as an insult. What ensued was the largest man-made disaster in history. The dropping of two atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The most deadly miscommunication to date. It would be wise to learn from this mistake to not make your own disaster in the new world of work
Clear up miscommunications as quickly as possible.
Miscommunications are going to happen, it’s only human nature, it’s what we do afterwards that determines the fallout and damage control. When it comes to team collaboration, rectifying mistakes has to be done in a brunt manner. This is not the time to save face if you have made a mistake. If the miscommunication happened to the whole team, it is up to the responsible party to go through all the team members and correct the false information, going to only a few key members of the team and solving it with minimum attention is not going to cut it.
Recognizing team efforts makes all the difference
Creating a sense of community is difficult in an effective team. Because in the end there is a lingering nag to generate something that makes money, that is what groups are made for after all. However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t ways to place beats of a human heart into a team.
When team members go above and beyond team leaders need to be there to give recognition. Giving team members the support they need when working hard not only boosts team collaboration, but it helps to stop procrastination, but it increases productivity as well “The Walt Disney World Resort established an employee recognition program that resulted in a 15% increase in staff satisfaction with their day-to-day recognition by their immediate supervisors. These results correlated highly with high guest-satisfaction scores, which showed a strong intent to return, and therefore directly flowed to increased profitability.” writes Kim Harrison from Cutting Edge PR
A great way to recognize the accomplishments of an employee could be:
- Give a sincere “Job well done” when the employee exhibits a strong work ethic and high quality work.
- Once in a while, for exceptional work, a nice touch would be to send a personalized message showing your gratitude for the employees work while also copying a director in the company on the email.
- Reward them! Another great idea would be giving your employee something that is rememberable, for example: the option to work from home for a day, or heck even a day off!
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Get the best team collaboration with a task manager
Teams normally work together, yet separately. Even though they are in collaboration there are many hiccups that nowadays are not necessary to have. These days leaders are faced with so many new problems but using the same organizational resolutions as they did ten years ago. It’s time for an update!
Reduce time waiting for follow up
Team collaboration is all about fluidity, all too often employees are faced with tasks that have prerequisites to be finished first before they can begin. For example, a programmer on a team is waiting for artwork to be manipulated into a website. Though the programmer doesn’t know where the artist is at on this task, or if he/she has started. Naturally the programmer asks of the task, once, twice maybe even forgetting about it if enough time passes by.
With an online task manager like Runrun.it all the tasks of all the employees on the team are laid out. The programmer always knows what he has to do and instead of constantly losing time by following up with the artist, he now only has to wait for the notification stating that the artist has finished his work and the programmers task is ready to be started. As an added bonus, the files the programmer might need are already uploaded onto the task, saving even more time tracking down all of the necessary files.
Team members always know what is priority
What to do next? What is the most important thing that I am supposed to do? Sometimes in the fray of all the tasks flying around it gets difficult to remember what is top priority in the task lists. Normally as managers if priorities change the only way to communicate this information is by sending various emails and taking into consideration the tasks of each and every team member, which in itself can be an impossible feat.
Runrun.it allows managers to see the tasks lists of each of the team members and reorder the task list by priority as it is needed. Thus, saving humongous amounts of time writing emails, fixing mistakes, and following up to make sure everyone understood the change. Nope, now it’s just a change of a number and your team know exactly what needs to be done now and where their focuses should be aimed.
Sharing project information with ease
There is a great need to stop disorganized project communication. Sending emails, Copying whoever is deemed a bit relevant, links, and files flying all over the place. In bigger projects this chaos is a huge time sink to get sorted out. What is most important is having all the communication and relevant information where it belongs. This brings team collaboration to a whole new level.
In each task, there is a space to spell out specific details, attach files, and even an area to communicate about problems and questions about the task. Once the tasks are complete in Runrun.it there is even an area to share files, by uploading all the files into a file sharing app (inside the software) and producing a link to send to stakeholders in the project or whomever you see fit.
Runrun.it, the ultimate team collaboration tool.
Runrun.it is the tool of work management that generates and saves all kind of data on professionals performance. Therefore, a valuable repository for People Analytics. Besides that, the tool is able to automate paperwork from day to day and increase by 25% the productivity of professionals. Try it free now.