Teams are what keep our organizations moving forward as they are at the core of most projects and initiatives. Many of us are even members of more than one team, juggling our responsibilities to make sure we meet all our different commitments. But there is more to “team life” than just tasks and workload. Leaders know that a team is only as strong as its weakest link and that could be either a member or a goal.
On one of the teams that I am a member, I have been noticing the people dynamics and specifically the way they tackle work and interact. It is fascinating to observe each individual’s style and approach to managing their goals. Some leaders on the team dive headfirst into their “To Do” lists while others take time to ponder and evaluate their best moves. The differences in their styles sometimes causes friction or overlap in actions taken.
What have you noticed about the teams you are part of? Do some teams perform in a more interconnected way? Do the way the members work together impact the strength of the deliverable or outcome?
Five elements of a strong team life:
1. Know the Work Styles Of The Team Members
Understanding how each person naturally prefers to undertake their work will not only increase team results but will also create less tension. We each have a unique way that we like to receive our assignments and information as well as the methods we choose to perform. For example, on one of my teams there is a member who has no patience for a deep explanation of what they need to do and would rather just be emailed with brief bullet points of their goals and expectations. On another team I am on, there is a member who requires a comprehensive written view of their responsibilities for an assignment. There is no good or bad or right or wrong. Just a preference.
2. Communicate Often and With Clarity
Leaders on strong teams know that communication is key to meeting deadlines with exceptional performance. Many times individual members contribute their piece to a larger project so they need to keep everyone informed of their progress. It is only when the team is left in the dark about an individual contributor’s challenges that frustrations ensue.
- Choose the best form of communication that works for the team: Zoom call; email; text; phone call.
- Make updates frequently and include all members that need to know the information you are sharing.
- Clarity is key so proofread your messages or write them out ahead before calling.
- If one form of communication doesn’t work pivot to another.
3. Identify Each Member’s Role and Responsibilities
When roles and responsibilities are shared clearly then team members will be able to accomplish their goals. It is when people are unsure of what is expected of them then things go awry. If teammates are consistently asking who is responsible for different aspects of a project, that is a tip off that there is a lack of role clarity. Ask everyone for their understanding of what is expected of them. Get on the same page and great results will follow.
4. View Feedback As A Gift
When our team members offer us feedback look at the information as a valuable way to grow and create better outcomes. In fact, go one step further- ask for feedback to make sure you are on the best path forward. Here are a few hints in best practices of giving feedback:
- Be specific and descriptive so others can understand and take action.
- Be respectful by not using judgmental language. Instead of telling someone they are careless, share examples of how they could improve their work.
- Stay positive while remaining truthful.
5. Build In Time To Schmooze
One thing I have learned with the teams I am on is that when I get to know the members in a personal way there will be beneficial partnerships. Learning about our team members’ interests as well as their challenges helps create deeper relationships. It feels so fulfilling to be able to ask a teammate how their family member is doing or what their book club is reading. Knowing what brings them joy outside of their team membership will only build on your connection with them.
What other elements contribute to team life? If you need help in building team life please let me know.