Very, very few career paths allow someone to work alone and not as part of a team, and that’s normally for a good reason; teamwork often leads to efficiency and a higher quality, faster-to-produce result than when employees work separately and alone. You can’t really get away from it, even if you want to.
While working as a team is often more productive and beneficial, it can sometimes be incredibly difficult. Coworkers don’t always get along or agree on how a task should be approached, or who should take it; sometimes people aren’t on the same page, or some won’t put in their share of the work. There’s a lot of chaos that can happen within teams, and even a group of sixth graders working on a dreaded group project can tell you that.
Getting your team to work well together is important to the success of the projects you’re working on, and in this post we’re going to go over tactics to get your team to work better together. This post is applicable to both managers or business owners who want their employees to work together better, as well as employees who want to get on the same page with their coworkers.
1. Have Effective, Concise Meetings
Most of us are aware that meetings can be the enemy of efficiency, but holding effective, productive meetings frequently can help everyone stay on the same page, collaborate on ideas, and get more comfortable working together.
Having efficient, concise, and relatively frequent meetings with different teams that work together are important—even if they’re only ten or fifteen minutes. Questions can be addressed, ideas can be shared, and collaboration is often encouraged. Actually sitting together in a room (or on a conference call) can help build unity within coworkers and establish that “team” mentality than if everyone has to work together, but never all at once.
2. Set Expectations
Setting expectations is an important part of all adult relationships, both personal and professional. It allows everyone around you to know what is acceptable and needed from them. Expectations are a natural part of working as part of a team, but they’re only efficient to helping your team work better together when they’re spoken out loud and expressed to those you’re working with; they cause frustration and ill will if they go unsaid.
You’ve got a standard of what you want and need, and clear expectations help get everyone on the same page. You want your coworkers or employees to know what you need from them, and how it fits into both the short term and long term goals you’re trying to accomplish.
3. Use Collaboration Software
Whether your team spans multiple time zones or you all work in the same office, collaboration software can make working on a project together easier. Popular collaboration platforms include tools like Evernote and Trello.
Trello is my personal favorite.
I’m part of a lot of teams, and managing multiple projects for multiple different clients can get hectic. I’ve got my own Trello boards to help me keep my own craziness straight, and I work with multiple clients on specific boards on Trello to collaborate on projects, share resources, and develop and track the progress of content we’re working on. You can tag people (and they get alerted through e-mail or through the app on their phone if they have it), and you can have separate boards with different workers—and different clients. And it’s free.
Whether you choose Trello or another option, using collaboration software is like having a virtual to-do list where you can compile all the resources necessary to complete it. It can make working as a team (particularly if it’s a virtual team) much easier and more effective.
4. Have Clearly Assigned Tasks
Working as a team means that everyone has something specific they—and they alone—are contributing to the group. Unfortunately, sometimes communication goes haywire and confusion happens, and tasks go unassigned and no one really knows what they’re supposed to do.
Having clearly assigned tasks for your team will help them work better together; not only will there be less frustration and even arguing about what was supposed to be done by who (or who does or doesn’t want to do something), it will cover your basis to make sure every part of the project is done when it’s needed to move on to the next phase.
If you’re the employee who’s being assigned the tasks, ask for clarification if there’s any doubt, and—if possible—ask to have a set list of tasks that you’re expected to uphold. If a manager or supervisor won’t assign them, try to concretely divide them up with other members of your team; this will help you make sure that your part is done so you’re not holding anyone back.
5. Be Open… About Everything
Sometimes mistakes happen. Sometimes, an unpleasant truth is part of the reality that you all have to work around. Lying to the people you work with—or the people who work for you—isn’t going to help that situation at all.
If there’s a problem, you also want people to be able to come to you to address it, whether you’re the supervisor or their coworker. This lets you address the problem and have a hand in solving it, no matter what that problem may be.
Being open reduces rumors, pettiness, fear, and confusion. All of these things can be detrimental to effective team work, and by getting rid of them, you can help get your team to work better together.
Knowing how to help get your team to work better together can be crucial both short-term and long-term within a business, and can (and likely will) directly impact the quality of work you are producing. Whether you’re part of that team or managing it, there are steps you can take to help increase a team’s productivity and cohesiveness.
How do you help your team to work better together? Do you use any of these strategies? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!