November 14, 2014
Teamwork is a vital part of any company, but even more so for startups when the work environment and culture requires all hands on deck working closely together all the time. In the end, teamwork comes down to cooperation and communication and without it, your business can certainly suffer.
While the terms “teamwork” or “team building” may bring visions of company retreats practicing trust falls, in actuality building team morale, trust and productivity doesn’t have to involve pricey trips or clichéd exercises.
A special thanks to our friends at Azendoo, the app that groups all your teamwork in one place so that you can plan, share and get organized, together (trusted by over 250,000 teams), for sponsoring these great tips. If you have a team, you need to check them out.
Here are 20 straightforward strategies to help improve teamwork in your startup today:
1. Lead by example
If you want your team to communicate with each other, work hard, produce strong results and keep the business moving forward then you must lead by example and do the same.
Treat your own roles, responsibilities and relationships with coworkers the same way you want others to.
2. Build up trust and respect
Nothing is going to get done within a team, or company as a whole, if there isn’t mutual trust and respect among employees and with management.
Team members must trust each other to each do their part as well as trust their leaders to be guiding them in the right direction.
3. Encourage socializing
Set aside time for team members to get to know one another on a more personal level to increase mutual trust, respect and understanding.
This can be as simple as after-hour drinks or a laidback office party, just get people talking!
4. Cultivate open communication
Encourage team members to speak open, share ideas, make suggestions and voice their opinions across all aspects of the business.
Communication is a two-way street and employees should feel like they can add to the conversation both with superiors and peers.
5. Clearly outline roles and responsibilities
Everyone in a team should have a crystal clear understanding of what their role and responsibilities within the group are.
This will help limit confusion or time spent organizing and delegating work so individuals can simply focus on their task at hand.
6. Organize team processes
Along with establishing clear roles, there should be set team processes in place for working on a project, mitigating setbacks, communicating with each other and providing feedback.
Again, these guidelines will help employees spend less time on logistics and more on their actual work.
7. Set defined goals
Each team should know exactly what they’re working toward including what goals they need to be hitting and when.
Set measurable goals within a specific timeframe that group members can measure themselves against both individually and as a team.
Knowing where they stand in relation to the outlined benchmarks will provide added motivation and incentive to work together.
8. Recognize good work
Praising and recognizing a job well done will boost confidence and morale, encouraging teams and individuals to keep up the good work.
9. Mediate conflict quickly and efficiently
It’s normal for conflict to arise in a team setting – there may be a communication breakdown at some point or people may have personal issues.
How conflict is managed should be clear under the team processes. If a team member has an issue how should they handle it? Who should they speak to first?
Make these practices and expectations clear from the beginning then handle situations quickly to help a team move on and maintain a good working environment.
10. Allow team members to actively take part in decision-making
Having a sense of personal involvement in the decision-making process will solidify individuals’ connection and investment in the team, making them feel like they are an integral part of something rather than just a piece of the puzzle.
11. Use Azendoo for task management
Collect and streamline team tasks, progress, deadlines and updates with a project management system like Azendoo.
The application allows teams to gather information and conversations in one place with real time syncing across the board.
12. Maintain the balance of work
Of course different team members will be working on different tasks, but try to ensure that everyone still has similar workloads. There shouldn’t be any single person bearing the brunt of the work.
The point of being in a team is to work together to share the load and create something one couldn’t do on their own.
13. Meet regularly… and mix it up
Meetings shouldn’t get in the way of productivity or be a waste of time, but teams should still meet regularly to touch base, check in on progress and goals, throw ideas around and build awareness about what each member is working on.
Plan regular meetings to reconnect, but make sure the time is used efficiently and effectively and consider switching things up by trying a walking meeting or meeting in a different place, like a coffee shop.
Taking things outside of the workplace has been shown to increase productivity and let communication flow more naturally.
14. Don’t micromanage
While teams should be meeting regularly together and with their supervisors, it’s still important not to micromanage.
Give your team the time, space and independence to produce work on their own without feeling like they’re always been watched or judged.
15. Create space
Give your team the physical and mental space to create and work in peace. This may mean setting specific times where group members only work alone or are not allowed to send or check email.
Things can get done more quickly as a team, however individuals still need their personal time to focus on their part of the project.
16. Start team traditions
This goes for teams and the company as a whole – create traditions to help bring people together and establish a sense of unified culture and solidarity.
They can be silly and simple, such as a running inside joke, or serious and elaborate, like offering a large incentive for when a team has reached their goals, but find a way for the team to connect on another level that isn’t just work-related.
17. Use size to your advantage
Both big and small teams have their own advantages. Larger teams have more manpower, but smaller groups often tend to show more personal investments and take individual responsibility for getting things done.
Whatever the size of your team is, consider what it needs to work best and use its size to your advantage.
18. Make hiring a team responsibility
When adding someone new to the company or team, have the existing team weigh in on the final decision, especially if they’re a small group.
One person’s skills, attitude and work ethic can easily affect overall group dynamics. By having the opportunity to weigh in on newcomers, the existing team will be able to help choose the best fit.
19. Give frequent feedback
Teams should receive frequent feedback from their leaders and each other. This can mean feedback on completed work but also include sharing any questions, insight, praise or problems the team may be having.
20. Take time to celebrate
Acknowledge and honor team wins.
Not only is celebrating simply fun, but it also helps reinforce a team’s willingness to work together and work hard for the company when their effort is clearly appreciated and celebrated.