Your company may be a team of 5 people, or it may have grown to have many departments, and many teams, all trying to work together as part of one finely tuned machine. No matter what your situation, it is very likely that, at some point, you are going to need to create a team, and make that team run as smoothly as possible. Here are the most important lessons in teamwork that financial outrage has picked up over the years.
Always be aware of what your team might be lacking, not just in terms of skills. If you are expanding, such as needing an IT manager, don’t hire just anyone. Think about who is on the team already, and find someone who has the personality, as well as the skills.
Maybe you already have some very vocal, ideas-driven members of the team, and you know that another hot-head who will butt heads with your financial manager or your marketing manager could seriously damage productivity.
Or maybe, you need technical innovation, so a pioneering IT manager is just what you need!
You might need a critical thinking ‘problem-finder’, to balance out all your ‘problem-solvers’, or vice-versa.
Trying to maintain that careful balance between innovators and producers, or critical thinking and creative thinking, to make your product or service the best that it could be, while maintaining efficiency, can be very hard. So don’t just think about the employee’s personal skills – think about how they could affect a dynamic for the better.
Probably the most important aspect of any team is communication. Do you find team members have regularly done slightly different work than you expected? Is one member of the team holding back their thoughts/ideas? Are there misunderstandings, or even unresolved conflict, that are negatively affecting productivity? Do you come out of meetings with clear, and mutually understood, resolutions, or vague long-term goals?
If any of this sounds familiar, then your team is likely to be wasting time and energy on unnecessary, or misunderstood, tasks.
Thankfully, communication is also one of the easier problems that can be fixed. It may feel unnatural, or even patronising, but taking the extra time to go over what has been discussed and decided on at the end of a meeting, can make all the difference. As can typing out, and sending round the minutes immediately for checking.
Be aware of anyone who is staying quiet and encourage them to talk, but make sure the atmosphere is open enough for them to say something stupid and not be shot down. Building up a friendly atmosphere is key, and there are more tips on this later. But, it is equally important not to allow a formal meeting to turn into a party. Make sure that only one person is talking at a time, and that the topics of conversation aren’t straying away from the goals of the meeting
Organisation is interlinked with every aspect of teamwork. The better organised your team is, the more you will succeed. But, this doesn’t mean that you should only hire the most organised team members you can find. You could be sacrificing something important.
If you have the resources for personal secretaries and an operations manager, then that is an obvious answer to any organisational issues. But, understandably, not all companies are able to do that from the get-go.
The essential thing to do is to be organised yourself, and to ensure that at least one other person on the team is as well, a ‘team manager’ of sorts. This could be an operations manager, or you could hire someone you know to be highly organised in any role, provided they will have the confidence and authority to organize others, when necessary.
If you are not an organised person, don’t panic. But you have to be honest and upfront about your weakness, and make sure to publicly give authority to the most organised member of the team to act as a ‘team manager’.
Some teams can have issues of motivation. You should always aim to hire people who are excited to work in your industry or field. But, sometimes, people can become demotivated, and that can become a huge problem for quality and productivity.
There are many ways to motivate people, but the best way is to make everyone truly feel like part of the team. The easiest way to do this is to encourage socialising, not just a Christmas party once a year, but a few work events, and, even better, simply eating lunch together. It doesn’t have to be every day, in fact spending time apart can be just as healthy for a group dynamic as spending time together, but making sure you all eat lunch together once a week and don’t talk about work can build bonds that will benefit you