Make Your Team Great

Sep 15, 2017

BY CAITLIN CONNOLLY – PROJECT MANAGER

Teams have been part of our lives since we were children. Even though little league may be a distant memory, the fundamentals of a team at work are critical for delivering successful outcomes in business. Picking teams as kids might have been based on who is the strongest or the fastest, but in the workplace we must craft a team environment that will overcome the critical business challenges ahead of us.

More than likely, we’ve all experienced what it feels like to be part of a team that struggles with significant challenges. Uneven distribution of work, poor results, and overall frustration of team members are clear signs of a team gone awry. Not fun.

On the other hand, being part of a solid team makes you feel like you can tackle any challenge. At the end of the project, you have a high-quality output due to a strong collaborative effort and you have completed the project without sweating the deadline too much. You’re proud of such great results and are excited to keep working on this team for future projects. Now that’s an A+ team.

As a project manager, I’m not only responsible for management of deliverables, but also for setting the tone of the team. Since we tackle a wide variety of projects and challenges, we require strong teamwork. So how might one formulate a team that can lead to those strong results?

FOCUS AND VALUE EACH ROLE

Everyone should be on the team for a reason. Team members without a specific purpose or clarified role can be a distraction, or worse, lead to team conflicts about responsibilities. When everyone understands each other’s role on the project, each teammate knows when to act and when to listen. At Elicit, we strive to ensure that we have a diverse skillset on every project. We regularly bring together Geek, Nerd, and Suit areas of expertise and clearly define up front who will be playing each role.

ALIGNMENT ON KEY OBJECTIVES

What is the business challenge we are solving for? Making objectives clear and explicitly defining what success means makes certain that each team member understands the overall vision. For example, if one teammate is motivated to complete a project as quickly as possible, while another is striving to over-deliver to help strengthen a client relationship, these differing objectives will likely ensure nobody accomplishes their goals. At Elicit, we review objectives as a team as well as collaboratively develop success criteria on the outset of a project. Aligning and agreeing up front ensures that the team has something to reference if a project gets complicated or veers off course.

HONESTY AND COMMUNICATION

In order to collaborate effectively, there must be a forum for open and honest communication. Timely and direct feedback can avoid delays, inefficiencies, and future rework. By creating open lines of communication and a safe place to share feedback, teams can guarantee that they can not only address issues quickly, but also share new ideas without inhibition. Remember, communication is defined as the exchange and comprehension of information between two or more parties. Firing off an email and calling it a day does nothing to ensure your message was read and understood. Communication is a two-way street.

UNDERSTANDING EACH OTHER

Understand that each individual has a unique personality that doesn’t cease to exist when they join a team. At Elicit, we leverage the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) in order to better understand our personalities across the team. With the MBTI®, we can gain a better understanding of what motivates our peers, their preferred working style, and how we can ensure that we are playing to team members’ strengths. Aside from leveraging the MBTI®, simply getting to know your colleagues on a personal level can ease communication and build trust.

CELEBRATE THE WINS

Take the time to recognize accomplishments as they come. Thoughtfully planning out mini-milestones gives the team opportunities to celebrate their successes along the way towards the larger project deliverable. Highlighting incremental progress and taking the opportunity to recognize team members and their contributions throughout can keep engagement high and the energy up. As a bonus, it’s fun!

So, is it time to reevaluate your team’s working dynamics? If so, try tweaking your team to incorporate these five tips. Every organization needs great teams with high productivity and morale. Now you’ve got the tips you need to help become one.