Productive Teamwork

Working with a team on a project can be a frustrating experience, but collaborative efforts usually produce more extensive and well-rounded results. It’s important to understand how to be a part of a productive team, so that each team member feels proud of their efforts and pleased with the team’s results. Productive teamwork consists of four major components:

1. Communication

The most vital component, communication makes the difference between a stressful joint-effort and a successful project. Initially, you need to establish rapport amongst your teammates. If you can create personal relationships with the people you are working with, you are more likely to approach a problem from similar angles. And when you DO have criticisms to present (which is inevitable—that is a principle part of teamwork), you will be able to show that the criticism is about the project, not about the person. Not only is this good for preventing defensiveness and hurt feelings, but it is essential for executing a productive team project. If you can’t offer criticism and new solutions to problems, your project doesn’t have the chance it needs to become something everyone is proud of.

You also need to maintain contact with everyone in the team. It’s best to set up a system of checking up on each other from the beginning so teammates know what to expect and when to expect it. You could use email, phone calls, daily or weekly meetings, or Power.ME task sharing to be sure that all team members are aware of assignments and upcoming due dates. The advantage of using Power.ME is its convenience for each team member: you can update and add tasks at any time of day, and when it is convenient for them, other team members can check in, see any updates, note any upcoming deadlines, and add suggestions to other files or tasks that have been shared for the project.

It’s important to communicate with each other, even if you aren’t the team leader. You and other team members should know to get help when you need it. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and embarrassed when you realize later you didn’t fully understand the task assigned to you or some of the major goals of the project. Honestly, it will be more embarrassing if you DON’T ask. Avoid miscommunication and clarify anything you don’t fully understand. Asking others also opens the doors to communication, letting new ideas and suggestions flow more freely.

2. Conceptualization

Another key component to productive teamwork is developing the concept. Some projects have basic concepts and others more complex ones. Without conveying your vision completely and clearly, there is no way you can be sure that all team members are on the same page. Brainstorm together and allow the team to contribute to the plan and come up with solutions for the problems your project is aiming to fix/solve. Then, let the contributions and initial plans marinate. Meet again and see if any new solutions come to mind, or any problems with the current plan surface. This second meeting will serve to show if you are still all on the same page.

3. Organization

Without organization within your team, you won’t execute the project the way you expect to. The result could still be acceptable, but you will have no control over the outcome. Have a designated place for collaboration: a Power.ME shared project, a weekly meeting or conference call, or even a personal check-in from the team leader. Outline the plan of action to accomplish the problem, design small and specific assignments to be delegated, set up specific dates to complete each phase of the project. If your project is big enough, organize committees and committee leaders to follow-up on important tasks along the road to project completion.

4. Delegation

We’ve mentioned delegation throughout this post, but here is why it is important:

  • Pride of Ownership: if someone is assigned to a specific task and everyone knows they are in charge of that task, they will take more pride in their work, finish on time, get help where they need it, etc.
  • If you don’t assign it, the chances it will get done are GREATLY reduced.
  • If you don’t assign it, you might have to do it. And every other task you don’t assign.

5. Completion

Seems obvious, but what I mean is this: you have done all the preparation and communication to create a successful project, but don’t forget the finishing touches. Include completion tasks in your organizational meetings, and be sure to delegate them as well. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • Who will present the project to the board?
  • Who will set up the equipment for the presentation?
  • Who will print the proposal and bind it?
  • Who will edit the final copy?
  • Who will turn in the proposal, and when, and where?
  • Who will Emcee the event?
  • Who will announce the guest speaker?

Projects that have been executed successfully from the beginning can end in a stressful mess if you don’t plan all the way through to the end.

Group projects can be tough, but rewarding. Learning the skills to tackle these tasks successfully will help you throughout your life. Don’t forget to communicate, conceptualize, organize, delegate, and complete your project with your team.

Image by renjith krishnan via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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