Ineffective teams are the bane of our existence from almost the very beginning. Ask any student the worst part school and group projects are sure to top the list. And teamwork doesn’t go away once you graduate, whether you work in a traditional office or an on-the-go environment, teamwork is sure to surface at least occasionally. Inept teams are more than just irritating, but disengaging, discouraging, and ultimately unproductive. It’s honestly enough to make you consider giving up on teams entirely, at least, until you experience a team that gets it right. Unlike the discouraging mess of an unsuccessful team, when teams actually work well together they are productive, focused, and make work an enjoyable experience. But how do you bridge the gap between terrible and terrific? Here are four of our favorite steps to get you started.
Take Advantage of Interests
Every employee at your organization is unique, with his or her own talents and interests. And while everyone has to do dull work occasionally, interest is often only a matter of perspective. Just like chores around the house, a task one person loves can be absolute misery to another, even if they share the same skill level. Whenever possible, talk to potential team members about their interests in a particular topic or task. You might be surprised by who volunteers in different areas. Taking on a topic they genuinely enjoy also subconsciously encourages employees to work harder, become more invested, and enjoy the overall experience more, making them a strong asset to any team. And because making a choice invokes a sense of independence, selecting their own team increases an employee’s sense of personal responsibility for the project.
Look Outside Of The Expected
We all want work teams with successful innovators, who can whip out ingenious ideas at a moment’s notice, but trying to fulfill “creative” stereotypes actually dooms teams to future failure. While quirky, eccentric, idea-heavy employees certainly exist somewhere, they are by far the exception. In reality, the best solutions are often generated by every day, introspective, and seemingly average individuals. By limiting your innovative teams to stereotypically extroverted or artistic personalities, you risk seriously missing out on the best opportunities. In fact, recent research has actually shown that caring, considerate, and compassionate employees are generally more creative and good idea-driven than over-the-top, boisterous, or Type A individuals.
Create Psychological Safety
Successful teams need more than just flamboyant thinkers or even hard-working individuals. In order to thrive, teams have to include a strong sense of psychological safety. Psychological safety, or each team member’s ability to comfortably contribute to the group, is considered one of the most important components of long-lasting team success. When team members can comfortably present ideas and take risks together, solutions are not only shared but strengthened by the team experiences and insights. Similarly, a study done by MIT and Carnegie Mellon found that teams with equally contributing members were overall more successful than teams dominated by only a few individuals. New, shy, or otherwise hesitant employees often have important insights but need a little extra encouragement. Team members need to establish an environment that can bring out the best in each other.
Show Authentic Team Support
Even the best teams will struggle under mediocre or inefficient management. As a leader, you are responsible for not only building dependable teams but also providing regular assistance and support. Leaders need to create their own version of a psychological safe space, where teams are appreciated and encouraged. Continual guidance doesn’t mean of course that rules don’t exist or hard work isn’t expected, in fact, support actually means just the opposite. Supportive leaders show teams their true potential and help them reach it. With the unequivocal trust and encouragement of their leaders, teams can safely work harder, experiment more, and become emotionally invested in project outcomes.
Successful teams are the cornerstone of any prosperous organization and MangoApps is here to help. Our powerful Mango Teams collaboration platform is designed to encourage and inspire modern teams, giving them the tools and flexibility they need to share resources, collaborate together, and accomplish outcomes. To learn more about organizing outstanding teams or how Mango Teams can transform your company, contact us or schedule a personalized demo today.