What are the ways that we can work more effectively as a team?
I’m going to share with you 7 tips of things that you can do to work more effectively with your team and also recognise the risks of not doing so.
1. Know What Appreciation Looks Like in the Workplace.
I’d love to hear if you have read the book 5 Love languages by Gary Chapman.
For me, it was certainly a game-changer in terms of my personal relationships with my partner and children. But here’s the thing. He also shared a fantastic book and wrote another one called “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace”. This is a great activity to do or even to explore and have a conversation with your colleagues.
How do they like to experience appreciation?
How do they know that they are valued and appreciated?
For some people it’s a gift, for some, it’s words of affirmation or spending quality time with people that count. There are a number of them, and I encourage you to explore them.
How do you show appreciation?
Most importantly, how does the person you are appreciating like to have that communication with them? They’ll have their own special language.
2. If you want to work effectively as a team, it comes down to communication.
Look, I know I’m stating the obvious, and it’s fundamental that people say what they want in the workplace: Respect, communication, and working towards a common goal.
These all sound fantastic on the billboards around the workplace, but what does it really mean? As a mediator, what I see is people coming into conflict about the definition of those keywords.
What respect means to you means something completely different to me. Likewise, what I see as useful, valuable and respectful communication is probably going to be completely different for you. People have different personality styles and communication styles. Some people very much love to communicate through emails and text messages, whereas others like to sit down and have a chit-chat conversation. Both people feel that their method is valid and warranted for the type of workplace they’re at. It’s worth having conversations with people to find out how do they like to be communicated.
I remember when I was working as a Personal Assistant, one of the best pieces of information I got from my boss was how he liked to be communicated with. His request was to communicate in a way that worked for him. He preferred questions and dot points at the end of the day, sent via e-mail. On top of this, we would arrange to catch up for supervision once a week., Otherwise, it was general correspondence based on those dot points. That’s what worked for him.
I’m not saying that it works for everyone or it’s the right way, but that was just an example of how he wanted to be communicated to be able to work well together and he let me know that this is the method that worked for him (it worked fine for me too by the way).
3. What is a Respectful Workplace?
What does respect actually mean? It’s again worth having this conversation. Ideally, if you can, do that around workplace training, workplace behavior or workplace culture. More specifically, unpack what respect is in your workplace looks like.
For example, what is the difference between working in a boardroom and working on a construction site? They are two completely different workplace cultures and environments and the way that you would speak to one another in those kinds of environments are totally different too.
The trap we fall into, particularly working in a new workplace, with a new team or with a new manager, is assuming that your existing interpretation of ‘respect’ is the same, no matter where you work. That is, what you’ve known, understood and interpreted as respect is going to be the same with this new group of people or new person. So, it’s worth unpacking what that means and how people feel when respected or not.
A hot topic at the moment is psychological risk in the workplace. People should have a safe space to speak up in if something is not right or not working and the capacity to provide feedback in a safe, meaningful, and respectful way. It’s important that people can communicate when something doesn’t sit right with them or when they don’t feel good about another’s behavior. If there’s the right culture and environment to do that, then people are encouraged to communicate and to do it well.
In order to work effectively as a team, it’s important that you get a clear understanding of what respect means to each person and what kind of culture of respect you want to create within your unique work environment.
4. Understand Each Other's Strengths and Weaknesses.
We can’t all be good at everything. There are some things that we are going to be stronger at and some things that we are going to be weaker at. No matter how much you try, you’ll never be as good at that weak thing as you are, as that strong thing. That’s just the way it is.
Although, every manager and performance management guru will tell you to work on your weaknesses. While that is true, it serves you well to attempt to work in your zone of genius. For is that work that you will truly enjoy and where you are most powerful.
When you can start to work together as a team to understand who is strong, and who is stronger in certain areas and or weaker in others, then you will start to work more effectively. However, sometimes there are days that you are off and you’re not performing at your best. Once again, if you have a culture where you can flag this with your colleagues and openly communicate that you’re not having a great day, then you know your team can catch your back. That they will support you to perform at your best, given the limitations you might have on that day.
5. Understanding Workplace Values.
I’m not talking about those beautiful values like honesty, integrity and authenticity. They’re great things to aspire to, work towards and live by but what I’m talking about is what is it that people place value on?
- Why do they come to work?
- What do they love about their job?
- What drags him out of bed everyday?
- What is it that they place value on specifically for them in the work that they do?
- What do they take pride in?
- What do they relish the opportunity to do?
- What do they take really seriously and do not undervalue or diminish that thing that they place value on?
When you start to know what your team places value on, that’s where you can really motivate and inspire and propel them. You are sure to have a far more productive, efficient, motivated and inspired team.
6. Productive Workplace Energy.
I think the best example of that is above and below the line.
Above and below the line is a workplace cultural philosophy and it’s essentially where you place your energy.
Above the line is very productive, it is solution orientated, where people take ownership and responsibility, and everybody is productive when they’re operating in that space.
It’s a safe space to give feedback and to provide solutions, support and make recommendations in things that aren’t running smoothly.
Below the line is very victim-focused. It’s where you pass blame or attribute fault to someone else.. You find excuses and you point fingers. It’s not productive, and it’s not conducive to moving things along effectively. It’s really draining of energy as well when you’ve got someone who’s operating below the line, we’ve all had one at someone in our team like that at some point.
Here’s the thing, we can all fall below the line.
It’s about pulling each other up above, over that line, because we can all sit below there from time to time. If you can create a culture where you recognize it, then it becomes a really positive and productive place to work.
7. Workplace Goals & Performance
Think about any team; a team on a football field for example. If they’re all running in different directions, kicking to different goals, what a disaster! Sometimes conflicts can occur when people have different ideas about what the standards are or what the goals are.
They may ask “Where are we actually heading with this? What are we meant to be doing? “
When you’re crystal clear on what those goals are, what the objective is of the work at hand, you’re productive and motivated. You are propelled forward to act and if everybody has got the same destination insight, it’s a great feeling, you just move together like a well-oiled machine with incredible momentum. It’s like when you see people rowing together, in unison for the same goals, in rhythm and heading to the same direction.
Now have you ever seen any group of people trying to row when one person is trying to head one way and the other person is heading the other way? They’re not in unison? It’s a disaster and the boat goes around in circles.
When people have a clear direction of where they’re going and what the goals are, that’s a beautiful thing to see.
I’d love to hear from you. What do you find is the most valuable thing that you’ve discovered for a team to work effectively together?
Please comment below.
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About the Author
Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships
- Find out what appreciation, respect and values are like in the workplace you’re in.
- Know how a person wants to be communicated with.
- Create a work environment in which it is safe, to provide meaningful and respectful feedback.
- Expect others to like to communicate in the same way you do.
- Punish yourself for being weaker in certain areas or afraid to speak up about them
- Assume people are working toward the same goals as you do and value the same things as you.