12 Principles of Effective Teamwork

Team productivity is a tight spot, especially when employees are 100% remote or located all over the country. Nevertheless, companies that have motivated and engaged employees get 21% higher profits than their less successful peers. So, if you want to join the high-performers ranks – here’s our guide on how to boost teamwork.

Define roles & accountability

People should understand their roles and responsibilities in the overall workflow clearly and if not – the workflow will be ambiguous and messy. When you start a new project, organize a meeting and introduce collaborators to one another. Outline everyone’s scope of work and assign a team leader, coordinator, reporters, if relevant.

Set SMART tasks

Expectations from every employee shall be as consistent as possible. Nothing frustrates people more than when requirements are changed “on the go” or when there is a need to alter undertakings 24/7. So, if you’re a manager or a team leader, make sure the assignments you delegate are:

  • specific – try to always set numerical goals, instead of depictive ones, e.g. “This week I expect you to design 10 advertising campaigns for the client X”; also – do not confuse the goal with tactics or the methodology
  • measurable – think about task’s assessment criteria that you can apply
  • attainable – don’t inquire about impossible things
  • realistic – be honest about resources you have and the time it takes to finalize tasks
  • time-bound – always mention the desired finishing date.

Synchronize daily

Do calls or meetings to define the team’s scope for the day and update the statuses on ongoing tasks. These should be briefs of 15-20 minutes at maximum – not hours-lasting gatherings.

Be agile

Agile methodology is suitable for any kind of joint project, not only for software development. Split the entire area of work into countable and time-bounded steps or sprints and create the backlog. Then – choose what tasks can be performed simultaneously and those that should follow one another, and start working out the backlog. In Scrum, a single sprint shouldn’t last longer than 4 weeks and it is forbidden to make changes that can endanger the sprint goal.

Use proper software

Distinguish team collaboration tools by the purpose they serve to – consider these 5 groups:

  • to manage the progress: JIRA, Workzone, Asana, Smartsheet, Targetprocess
  • for simultaneous editing: online whiteboards, like Miro, Weje, Explain Everything, Limnu
  • to control over versions – GitLab, GitHub, Apache Subversion, AWS CodeCommit
  • for tracking time spent – HourStack, Toggl Track, Harvest
  • to communicate – Slack, Google Hangouts and Meet, iDoneThis, Zoom.

Praise achievements

Motivation is not always monetary. The more talented and skilled people you acquire in the team – the more non-financial incentives, such as the opportunity to work on unique projects, a friendly atmosphere, or public recognition, will matter for them. Regardless of how fast your workflow goes, always take time to slow down and celebrate employee’s wins.

source: Pinterest.com

Group diverse players

Diverse teams perform better compared to the homogeneous, because for collaborators it’s usually more challenging to cooperate in such an environment. Thus, people start to act more responsibly, are less relaxed and mild-mannered. Some say that diversity leads to increased conflicts, but this is a wrong perception. If you highlight the importance of multiculturalism and different points of view within your team – you’ll never fall into disruptive conformism and resistance to innovations.

Encourage out-of-the-box thinking

A bad team is where members are afraid to share an opinion or reveal an idea. No matter how skilled managers are, long-term productivity is impossible without a personal contribution from everyone. So to encourage creativity – follow these tips:

  • praise efforts as much, like your praise the success
  • don’t take a new idea with hostility – no matter how weird it seems
  • welcome lateral thinking
  • if you criticize, offer an alternative, or provide reasonable arguments.

Build relationships & trust

It’s needless to eliminate subordination, but there must be trust between teammates. Otherwise, people will be afraid to disclose their gaffes, ask questions, and take the initiative. To prevent such a state of affairs, launch individual sessions where you can chat with an employee one-to-one and learn about his or her development “wants and wonders”. Also, avoid blaming or shaming people for mistakes and valuing them as means of production – not as human beings.

Eliminate communication barriers

The best way to overcome conversational barriers is to meet informally once in a while. Team buildings or small traditions, like pizza on Fridays, are good excuses to get everyone together and talk about something different than work. The only limitation here – you must respect an employee’s desire not to communicate. Because if not, a joint pastime will turn out to be an unpleasant duty.

Share experiences

The more people work, the more they discover and accumulate a precious experience – experiential learning. To use this collective knowledge 100%, try launching the following:

  • corporate training
  • intense learning classes
  • in-house projects, for example, for developers’ teams
  • ice breakers.

Remember – a well-elaborated corporate culture may help you put everything together. This may be a written document with policies, or just ethical principles preached by executives and managers. Integrity, certainty, and appreciation – this is a three-tiered base that a productive team stands on.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.