Teamwork is what makes a team effective and efficient. The way individual performances come together directly affects the whole. In essence, teamwork is synergy. Or making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. More than anything, what holds this synergy together is trust. In fact, team trust is what makes team work happen. Without trust, you do not have a team. Rather, you have a misaligned group of people.
Many organization policies today still hit hard against team trust. As a result, teamwork has to suffer. Is it not ridiculous, for example, that so many organizational rules make you reminisce of childhood? From doctor’s notes to making a big fuss overall minute lateness. Today’s world is one of flattened hierarchies, co-working spaces, flexible schedules. Yet, there seem to be so many organizations that still punch the 19th century clock. At least when it comes to work-related rules.
In truth, some rules, such as promoting and protecting diversity, are hot-issues right now. And hopefully change is on the way. Meanwhile, however, there are many minor rules. And changing them helps improve team trust and teamwork. To sanitize company rules so that you nurture trust and teamwork, read on.
Rule 1: Work with flexible schedules
Teamwork is an organic process. It’s flexible, and so should be your schedule. People come together, offering their best at the right time. Trying to force a rigid mainframe onto this process can do more harm than good. Sure, it makes everything click at the right time. But oftentimes the quality of work has to suffer. Indeed, it worked very well for factory workers a century ago.
However, many occupations today are rather different. It is the personal qualities of your hires that matter now. To explain, it is what they bring to the table in value and creativity. Both of these are what you want to develop. The modern worker is, often enough, a knowledge worker. Hence, you need to make the rule about the work, as it is more motivating, and not about the worker.
A flexible teamwork example
Let’s consider an example. Suppose organization A uses team decisions and aligns teams. Marketing Steve needs to meet with R&D Angela and several other people to work on a new strategy. They will have to organize a meeting, set common objectives, organize their bits and pieces. Moreover, they will spend about 60 minutes brainstorming. Sounds like teamwork!
Now, imagine that the meeting happens “first thing in the morning.” If you are anything like Steve, nothing creative pops out without some coffee pouring in. People have different circadian rhythms and may not take good care of their work-life balance as they should. You now have a Marketing Steve that’s at 80%. And 80% is precisely what you are getting. Sure, this is a scheduling-based example. But the idea here is simple: forcing rigid time-frames onto people stifles creativity. Moreover, R&D Angela won’t be that happy either. Not as much because of team dynamics, but mostly because she is there 100%. This leaves her with less team trust than at the start of the session.
Flexible teamwork with team goal-setting
Instead of rigid planning, use flexible time-frames and team goal-setting. This means everyone gets to come and leave whenever they need. Just as long as they meet set goals and beat deadlines.
This has an amazing effect on productivity. Firstly, team goal-setting promotes reliability and self-resilience. Secondly, there is a spill-over effect on teamwork by involving the whole team into goal-setting.
What happens is that each team member now provides a role model on how teamwork should take place. And the overarching model is one of proactive teamwork. Besides, flexible teamwork works for AI cooperation.
Rule 2: Make your communications transparent
Team communications are crucial to cooperation. Without proper communication, nothing can come together. And even when things are together, they can easily fall apart.
To ensure transparent communications, create congruence. Firstly, make sure you have the right amount of team communications. Under-communicating, for example, is a bad call. So is over-communicating, it leads to far too much useless chatter.
To strike the right balance, move to effective communications. To build trust within team communications, encourage the following:
- Live up to your promises. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
- It’s OK to acknowledge your limits. Don’t pretend you know everything.
- It’s OK to fall back on the team. Don’t take everything upon yourself.
Ultimately, try to achieve a team environment in which everyone follows these simple transparency tricks. The result builds day after day and ensures trust and improved collaboration.
Rule 3: Treasure and celebrate teamwork
Far too often team achievements go unnoticed or uncelebrated. To clarify, you do not have to celebrate each little step with great fanfare. However, key items on your strategy should be celebrated.
This is particularly true for those achievements that are the result of teamwork. While giving credit to individual success and accomplishment is great, focus on teams as a whole.
The wrong way to go about this is to organize a meeting. Even when you use meetings to celebrate, they are still unpopular. Instead, take your team out. A very simple strategy would be to celebrate every milestone. Celebrate each of the goals the team set.
It goes without saying that you should not allow favoritism of any kind. Especially because one great way to frame individual success is as a part of teamwork. To make this simpler, always celebrate team achievements. When it comes to individual accomplishments, offer a symbolic award on behalf of the team.
It’s always better to focus on the positive. For example, to focus on rules that nurture trust and teamwork. There is, however, a far longer list of don’ts when it comes to work rules. In truth, you need to take a critical, challenging look at whatever rules you have in place. And start changing things from that point onwards.