Teamwork: We, not I.
Have you ever thought teamwork is a true nightmare? Have you ever wished that you could perform much better working alone?
Rest assure because you are not the only one suffering from “teamwork”. Most of us must have experienced many tough and even ridiculous situations when working in a team. The common scenarios are: personality clashes, group’s conflicts, irritations, increased workload, etc. Or you could the be the one who caused all the problems. Regardless of your position, in professional environments, you cannot run away from “teamwork.”
If you cannot avoid it, why not make the best out it? Let our team share with some useful solutions to the most frequently happened problems with teamwork. Or at least with these tips, we hope to get you away from disastrous cases.
1. Set up goals & rules before teamwork starts
This must be done at the very beginning, i.e. the “forming stage” of group development process. It is crucial that all members agree upon what results they are expecting. The goals will define the group’s general performance (for instance: quality, workload, important topics to discuss). For larger group projects, you can use the S.M.A.R.T model to set up “goals”.
Rules also need to be discussed in advance. Why? It refrains members from doing inappropriate or irritating actions within the group. This step might also reduce:
> Difficulty in making decisions or finalizing the work;
> Inability to resolve conflicts;
> Unclear directions where the teamwork is heading to.
And don’t forget to make sure that every group member is aware of what is expected of him/her!
2. Embrace cultural differences and diversified personality traits
People have different personal characteristics and varied working styles. Worst case, you may experience personality clashes in your group. In an international environment, this kind of conflict may happen more frequently than you may expect. So, what should you do then? Definitely, not this…
You can always try to change a person, but this can often be quite difficult. So try this out:
> Learn about others’ personality and their working styles as soon as possible;
> Find out any common traits and take advantages of them;
> Recognize personality differences, especially in terms of working, among team members;
> For acceptable differences, try to adapt;
> For intolerable differences, discuss together and compromise.
Why going through all this trouble? This step will partially help you get closer to better and more harmonious cooperation within the team. Understanding a person might help you misunderstand their choice of words or working priorities. To a certain extent, it also defines the communication and working style within the group.
Moreover, if you are a leader this will help you greatly in the following step.
3. Give the right tasks to the right person
Everyone is good at something specific. When you divide tasks among group members, always remember this point. If you have not known about each other yet, ASK. You can start with simple questions about personal ability and preferences. For instance: “What do you prefer working with?” , “What tasks are you usually good at?”, “What trivial things you don’t mind doing?”
It’s important to split work evenly among members. If there is big inequality, clarify them. The point of giving people the “right” tasks is to encourage their commitment, best afford, and creativity. Member inclusion, in terms of discussion and tasks implementation is important as well.
Full participation of group members is not necessary all the time, but most of the time it is. The team should also give time and space for people who haven’t got a chance to speak up yet.
We also recommend team members to take turns in make decisions and leading the group. The second and the third steps are to avoid the case of “absence of member’s identity”. Those problems can be the physical absence (not attending group’s meetings and discussions), individual contributions, or cooperation.
4. Communicate effectively
> Agree on the common communication styles and channels;
> Listen well;
> Be open to different perspectives and opinions.
5. Maintain a positive and energetic atmosphere
Here are a couple of tips that may become handy for you to keep the group motivated:
> Give constructive feedback instead of criticism;
> Try not to blame faults on each other. Rather, try and find alternative solutions;
> Be empathetic: try to put yourself in other people’s shoes before actually judging them;
> Be loyal and trustworthy.
In case of intense disputes, it is always better to have an arbitrator., i.e. asking for the help of a third party.
We hope that 5 mentioned suggestions can improve your current/ future team’s performance!
What strategies do you use to improve teamwork?