Efficient, skilled teams working in harmony are vital to the success of your company.
Team work at its finest yields four powerful results:
- It naturally creates a flow of task to match skill as people generally volunteer for the component of the project that matches what they do best.
- It creates an informal system of mentoring and support as one team member helps another to master a skill or process.
- It sets a consistent work place, with each member striving to hold up their part and avoid being the person who is holding up the project.
- It promotes the evolution of efficient work processes. Once a team has figured out a template for a complicated challenge, when similar situations come up they revert to it.
How do you encourage your teams to be more productive? Here are 10 strategies that work:
- Make your intent clear to all team members: Most employees genuinely want to do a good job, but confusion over expectations muddies the water. Whenever a project is starting, meet with your team and tell them precisely what is needed. Armed with that knowledge, they have a great aim at what success in this instance will look like.
- Keep your teams small and agile: It doesn’t make a project more important to have large teams working on it; it means the project hasn’t been suitably broken into realistic tasks. Keep in mind the rule of two pizzas coined by Jeff Bezos at Amazon: if you need to order more than two pizzas to feed your team, it is likely too large.
- Start with staff stories: No matter how long people have worked together, they always have stories nobody has heard before. Start each new team with a brief ice-breaker of having each member describe what thing in their background that others might not know about them that makes them an ideal member for this team.
- Share the end game: A huge part of the reason why only one-third of American workers feel engaged with their work these days is because they can’t see any point in it. Share the facts and figures and long term end game to the degree that is possible, so your team understands that they are part of something big. Give them purpose for their project.
- Reduce dependence on email: contrary to public opinion, email is not always a time-saver when you are working on a project. In fact, endless written exchanges when people should just be picking up the phone or Skyping each other is a time waster.
- Make an effort to ensure that your teams are diverse: it’s one thing to talk about building a diverse workplace, but if the same people always work together, it will be a paper policy only and never a reality. Mix up ages, genders and geographic backgrounds for a team that exemplifies the corporate culture you want.
- Encourage open communication: When your team only tells you what you are expecting or what you want to hear, it won’t end well. Be willing to listen when someone thinks a different way to do something could work. Encourage members to share information respectfully.
- Incorporate video conference and social networking solutions to aid in communication: Teach your workers that they can build relationships without always being in the same work. This will prepare your company and your employees for the work world of tomorrow which will rely more heavily on a contingent work force.
- Actively promote the ethics and reputation of your company through your workers: If a worker suggests cutting a corner that could save money but seriously impact the quality of your product, respect the innovation but gently open a discussion on the impact of decisions on consumers and the company’s reputation. Don’t make “we care” just part of your vision statement. Make it part of the way that you work and make decisions.
- Provide constant, timely feedback: Teams go off the rails without timely feedback. You need to be able to keep up to date with how projects are progressing and praise innovations as a means of promoting it.