When a team gets together to complete a task, it usually goes one of two ways: either everyone works off of each other’s strengths to collaborate effectively, or there are too many cooks in the kitchen and nothing gets done.
In my time providing teamwork tips to business leaders, I’ve seen both situations unfold, and the end results couldn’t be more different. When a team acts as a cohesive whole, employees feel more comfortable contributing, so ideas form that could never have materialized on an individual basis. On the other hand, when people attempt to speak over others and ignore alternative viewpoints, the meeting turns into a waste of everyone’s time.
The key to effective teamwork is to focus less on making you look good and more on the success of the collective whole. When your entire team understands and follows the structure of successful teamwork, productivity is inevitable.
Set a Goal
When everyone is on the same page regarding the purpose of a meeting, it is much easier to understand where each individual is coming from. You may not agree with someone else’s input, but you probably won’t dismiss it completely if you can tell that they are attempting to reach a mutual goal. The same goes for others listening to your opinions — if they can see that you are attempting to solve the same problem, they are more likely to try to see things from your perspective.
When a team is able to rally around a common goal, everyone is more empathetic towards each other, which is essential for collaboration. Make your goal very clear from the start.
Everyone Plays a Role
Consider an industry where collaboration is essential for success — improv comedy. In the world of improv, each performer in a scene relies as much on their partner as they do themselves. People who perform improv rely on a simple but powerful phrase: “yes, and…” This means that whenever their stage partner makes a declaration, they never discredit or ignore it but build upon it.
You can use the same strategy in the boardroom by making it clear that every team member’s input is important, even if you don’t agree. Everyone in a meeting should participate and provide their opinion, but that can’t happen if people feel intimidated or think that their ideas won’t be taken seriously. Create a comfortable environment where every employee brings their skills to the table.
How to Make Decisions
A sense of respect for individual roles is critical, because there will be situations when not everyone agrees with a certain idea or action. Sometimes a team has to come to a final decision, and it’s the group leader’s responsibility to determine what the consensus is. There should be a hierarchy in place that clarifies who has the authority to speak for the group as a whole, but it shouldn’t make the people lower on the org chart feel like their input doesn’t matter.
Ideally, a leader considers a wide range of opinions for their final decision or action, so everyone knows they successfully contributed to the discussion. This is easier said than done, but a strong leader is able to clearly explain the reasoning behind their decision in a way that makes sense, even to those that disagree with the outcome.
You’ve heard it before — there is no “I” in team. As cliché as it might seem, it’s an important fact to remember. Teamwork is more about “us,” so if you’ve been having problems getting things done with coworkers, it’s time to reevaluate your company’s processes for group work.
Taking the lead in a group isn’t about taking over; it’s about helping others find their own voices for a better end result. When a team works together effectively, it feels like a well-oiled machine firing on all cylinders. Great teamwork brings out the best in everyone, so make it a priority to improve your collaboration at work.
To learn more about bringing people with differences together, check out the Everything DiSC Workplace tool. Darke & Associates can customize this program to fit your specific business, and provide a tailored teambuilding workshop that strengthens relationships at your workplace. Commit to cooperation and your team will feel more united than ever before.