How to Help Individual Contributors in the Team Workforce

team high five enablement

We all know there’s no “I” in the word team. Today, it’s hard to find a workplace where the emphasis isn’t on teams. As a manager, you’re probably hiring people who have a track record of working well with others. But, not every employee is comfortable working in a team environment.

Jon Baldoni touched on the topic of collaborative work in his recent SmartBrief column. He correctly points out that managers should be good collaborators. After all, it’s up to them to envision how a project will be completed and who should take on specific responsibilities.

If you want your team members to stay content and productive, learn about their work style preferences. In some cases, employees may not be exactly clear on how they work best. With a tool like TeamTrait, you can understand each employee’s personal style. TeamTrait’s DISC assessment tool reveals basic behavioral traits and will give you insight into how to communicate with and assign projects to each employee.

Baldoni notes, “Knowing how they [individuals] like to work as well as how they can work better enables them to succeed for themselves and for the betterment of the team.” Once you know who prefers to work with a team, and who needs a significant amount of individual work time, look at your upcoming project as a whole.

Can you break work assignments into pieces that match work styles? For example, a project kickoff meeting may require an ideation session. Put your collaborative workers together on this task. They’ll be energized by the ideas flying around the room and will come up with approaches and suggestions they wouldn’t have thought of when sitting alone in their cubicles.

Other tasks may require individual work. While a team might generate ideas for a white paper, it’s more efficient to let one of your creative folks do the actual writing alone. After they finish a solid first draft, other team members can give their input. Similarly, your rockstar coders may do their best work when they’re alone in their cubes with their headphones on.

Each employee in your department should understand they’re members of and contribute to the success of the team. You’ll get the most out of some employees by allowing them to spend enough time as individual contributors. It’s up to you, as a manager, to monitor these needs and to assign projects accordingly.