We’ve all had to work in a team at some point in our lives. And, we’ve all had experiences where it’s been not so effective. In fact, it’s probably made you want to pull your hair out a fair few times. That university project where you picked up the slack, that part-time job where you were always left to do the toughest tasks, we’ve all been there!
But, teamwork, when mastered, can be one of the most beautiful and harmonious things to be a part of (trust us), but it takes a lot of communication, a lot of patience, and plenty of humility to be effective.
Tons of articles are online listing the top 5 rules of effective teamwork, but we wanted to put our own twist on things…
Show everybody respect
This really does go without saying, but treat others how you wish to be treated, it’s that simple. Operating in a hierarchical way can come back to bite you in the future, especially if you work in a big team that has layers of seniority. Operating as though it is a ‘flat’ structure (and everybody is equal) allows you to build strong relationships with people, no matter what stage they’re at in their career.
Respect costs you nothing, and can be your golden ticket to working well with others. It can be difficult to show respect to someone if it isn’t reciprocated, but try and shift your view on this and let go of your ego!
Respect shouldn’t be given just so it can be received. See it as a selfless part of who you are – because the individuals who aren’t respectful won’t get far in the long run.
Encourage candour and conflict-resolution
No matter how big or small a team you’re working in, you will have disagreements. Just like friendships and relationships, it would be weird if it were one big happy family all the time. Although conflict can feel awkward and anxiety-inducing for many, hiding in the shadows about how you truly feel can do way more damage in the long term.
Radical candour and approaching conflict in a solutions-focussed way can take the emotion out of an issue and instead break it down into a hypothesis that must be solved!
Let’s say for example you’re working on a project and there are two people in the team who have completely opposite views; how can they meet in the middle? What can be compromised? Can both parties be happy at the end of the conversation? That should always be the goal.
Have a “paper” trail
We say “paper” – but digital is fine too. Assigning someone different each team meeting to take notes and feed them back to the team, whether on slack, email or on a whiteboard can be a great way to keep communication clear, and also eliminate any element of “he said, she said”. This can happen in larger teams – it’s a part of having many opinions and thoughts flying around. But, having a centralised place for action points can help build a cohesive team all working towards the same goal.
Along with respect, showing humility is 100% free and also an excellent skill to have in your arson. Admitting when you’ve done something wrong brings you back down to earth when working in a team.
There’s nothing more frustrating than working with someone who is blinkered or thinks that they can do no wrong. Mistakes are normal, and they are bound to happen at some point.
Owning up to what you’ve done wrong encourages better teamwork as you can work together to solve the issue, rather than scrambling and panicking when it’s too late. It feeds into what we said earlier about conflict resolution; look at the facts, take the emotion out of it, and find a solution!
Be social/have fun
Effective teamwork is more than just doing things on time, communicating candidly, and owning up to mistakes. You also must have fun whilst in a team.
This doesn’t need to be after-work drinks or socialising on the weekends (although if you want to do that, then great) but it can also be taking the formalities out of meetings and going to a coffee shop, doing team lunches, and scheduling team-building activities that are less about “work” and more about enjoying each other’s company. Teamwork doesn’t have to be clinical – it can also be incredibly enriching and fun.