Teamwork can be challenging. Throw together a bunch of different personalities with varying skills, knowledge, communication and working styles and people are bound to butt heads. You’re all working towards the same goal though, so does teamwork have to be such an uphill battle? Why do some teams thrive while others falter?
Each individual has a different way of unpacking complex problems and findings solutions. I for example, know that the left side of my brain is far more active than my right. What does this mean? It means that I understand and can relate more to creative problems and tasks, rather than maths and science-based problems. It also means that I love pretty flowcharts and strongly dislike crunching numbers. Understanding how your team members think and work best is crucial for effective teamwork. Some people are great at on-the-spot ideas, while others need time to absorb and digest information. Encouraging your team to complete a personality profile can help leaders better understand their employees strengths, thought processes and ways of dealing with problems. Having a harmonious mixture of different personalities can create the right balance to achieve the best possible outcome.
Respect is one of the most important elements in life, relationships and work. It is a silent feeling of understanding that shows that you value a person and what they stand for. Whether you agree with them or not, respecting your fellow team members and their opinions, ideas and beliefs shows your ability to understand and value them without judgement. Respectful communication means engaging in a healthy dialogue, where ideas and suggestions are bouncing around and everyone’s opinion feels heard and valued. These open discussions where no one is trying to “win” are the best scenarios for stimulating innovation and collaboration. If you’re the leader of the team, it’s important to reiterate that there are no wrong answers and that everyone’s ideas are valid.
Remember your purpose
Deadlines, money and KPIs aren’t always enough to motivate employees to perform at their best. Many people would sacrifice a high-paying salary for a role with more exciting work and a better workplace culture. To create a winning culture (and a winning team), leaders need to understand their employees’ hierarchy of needs. When people have a vested interest in a cause, they’re more likely to work harder for it. Reminding team members why they’re spending time, effort and resources on a project can help provide perspective, meaning and motivation. Creating passionate employees can reap huge rewards for the company too. These employees are engaged with their work, have a vested interest in the outcome of projects, and are more likely to go above and beyond their call of duty. Setting out clearly-defined, measurable goals from the beginning can help team members remember what they’re working towards and their purpose. Focusing on the positive outcomes of their hard work can also help drive motivation, instill a sense of worth in your employees and lead to higher levels of productivity and loyalty.
Did you know that a reported one in eight employees leave their jobs due to incivility? That’s a lot of people who would prefer to find another job than put up with rude or discourteous behavior at work. But for those who don’t pull the pin on their job, dealing with this can lead to a decrease in productivity, employee satisfaction and overall moral in the workplace. We all experience bad days where we feel a little more introverted than usual, but a little nice goes a long way, especially when it comes to working in teams. In an effort to find the perfect recipe for a successful team, in 2012 Google launched ‘Project Aristotle’ which studied hundreds of teams at Google over several years. The surprising results revealed that successful teams had high “average social sensitivity” or “psychological safety”, meaning team members felt they could speak up without fear of embarrassment or rejection. In other words, teams worked more effectively when they were nice to each other. When team members get along, morale is boosted which can lead to better productivity. It also makes working together a lot more enjoyable and can help build relationships with your colleagues. Basically, being nice is highly underrated.
At the end of the day, the secret to a successful team is all about valuing each other as humans. Purpose, kindness, respect and understanding are key requirements for team members to feel a sense of safety and to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively. Leaders should remind their teams that being kind, considerate and respectful of one another in the workplace can boost morale, build relationships and increase productivity. A little effort can go a very long way. Plus, it feels good to be nice.