There is no “I” in the word “team.” Now more than ever, high-functioning organizations rely on top team effectiveness to deliver products and services. Leaders who actively field and manage great teams stay ahead of their competitors. How can you achieve excellent teamwork in your company?
Top Team Effectiveness
In old-line organizations, work responsibility followed functional lines. Employees who worked in accounting reported up to a department supervisor. Workers on the factory floor engaged with machines to manufacture parts for cars or other mass-produced items like kitchenware. They rarely attended meetings designed to solicit their input or ideas about how a process in their division or another department could be improved.
As processes and production have become more automated, the nature of human work is shifting. Up to 30% is now done by cross-functional teams, reports Deloitte. Why? Business leaders have recognized that they can get products to market quickly and efficiently by relying on these cross-functional teams. When a project or team leader can call on a production expert, a marketing expert and a customer support expert to support the launch of the next service, they won’t have to battle the usual corporate hierarchy to meet their deadlines.
This shift to a more agile work process means organizations must change how they “allocate budgets, train people, and reward workers.” This process starts at the very top of the organization and requires leaders to work as team members instead of competing for more budget in their “empire-building” attempts.
Good team effectiveness requires great communication from the project leader. Part of this communication involves giving and asking for feedback. If employees regularly move between teams in your organization, you should know about their potential fit with different managers and how easy it will or won't be to give feedback. One way to understand employee work behavior is to access the results of their psychometric assessments. You may be familiar with psychometric assessments as a hiring tool. They can also help you understand employee motivation and communication styles.
For example, when it comes to communication, some employees appreciate a manager who gets right to the point in a conversation. Other employees need every assignment to be discussed in advance and then written out and emailed to them. When you modify your typical communication style to fit with an employee’s preferences, their output will likely increase.
Defining and Agreeing to Objectives
Part of successful team effectiveness involves defining goals and objectives, explains Alex Larralde in an article posted on betterworks.com. Each person should understand their role and responsibilities. When each team member stays in their own lane and completes tasks on time, the entire group succeeds. This strategy can pose significant challenges unless everyone agrees to be accountable and provides regular updates, such as in a daily agile scrum meeting.
All good things must come to an end, which mean the temporary teams will eventually disband. Team members who worked together for months may feel a sense of achievement when they’ve delivered quality work on time. Going forward, they may be assigned to projects with new team members and face the learning curve that comes with those changes. Don’t let this organizationally-imposed change happen without celebrating the team’s success. Whether it’s a party at a restaurant or a break taken around one of the conference room tables with carry-out food, acknowledge the hard work. Praise the team and each individual’s contribution. A shoutout during an all-hands meeting can increase the team’s sense of accomplishment and pride.
When Teamwork Fails
Not every team project results in a traditional win. Products fail to capture market share. The service the CEO insisted on launching may turn out not to be a profitable venture. Or the market opportunity may change overnight, as it did when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our lives.
Before you disband the team, consider following Larralde’s advice. Managers need to “have these tough conversations, especially when changes in processes, tools, or techniques that didn’t pan out.” Conducting a post-mortem with the team may offer insight into what to change for the next project. During the analysis, managers can still point out what people did properly.
As you strive for team effectiveness in your organization, be sure you understand the individual motivations and work behavior of each member. When employees move from one team to another, managers can make a difference by praising their work.
Photo credit: Nick Fewings at Unsplash.
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