7 Tops Tips for Terrific Teamwork
Ah, teamwork. One of the most important things to get right in your business, but one of the easiest to get wrong.
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you want to get it right. You know that a strong team is the foundation to success. After all, leading a motivated, visionary team is what many of us strive for.
But how can you do it? What are the essential components for effective teamwork? How can your team stand out from the rest and produce the results you want?
First of all, we need to start with why.
Why is effective teamwork so important?
A strong team has a shared vision and purpose. It weathers any storm and enables customers to have an excellent, one-of-a-kind experience. They trust your brand and, even when mistakes are made, will come back to your business again and again.
Teams that are weak can bring a business to its knees and quickly. Trust disappears, a bad reputation spreads and customers are running for the hills.
Sure, all teams can wobble. Even the strongest of them. But it’s how they pick themselves back up that matters, how they resolve the problems. How they learn from each experience and use it to enhance their teamwork further.
That’s what makes them stand out from the rest. Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?
7 Tips for Terrific Teamwork
When building your team, it helps to know what makes the best ones work so well. It’s these skills that will drive your business forward in the direction you want and need.
1. Vision and Values
You have a vision for your business. You can picture its growth and success. But what about the other members of your team? How clearly have you shared your vision with them?
More importantly, has your team been part of that visionary creation? In order for effective teamwork to occur, everyone needs to be on board the business bus. You all need to know where it’s heading and why.
If you’re on a journey, you want to know the destination, but also the route. You don’t wish to drive around in circles until, eventually, you lose interest or, even worse, end up in the wrong place entirely. Discuss your starting point, plan your route as well as your ultimate destination. Together.
Alongside vision often comes values. They play a big part in helping you achieve your business goals. What’s important to your business? What experience do you want customers to have? How do you want customers to talk about you?
Sit together and flesh this out. Common values could be trust, honesty, integrity, passion and commitment. Make a list. Work together. Put yourselves in your customer’s shoes and ask your team how they want them to feel.
Once discussions finish, create something that can be shared with the team, either on the wall or as a document, so that everyone knows the values that your business holds dear.
Shared vision and values are such strong foundations for teamwork.
Communication makes or breaks a team. Without it, morale is low, team members become disaffected and a dangerous game begins to play out. The blame game. Team members begin to use phrases such as, ‘Nobody told me’ or ‘Well, I didn’t know.’
The blame game is a damaging one because, the more it’s played, the more cracks begin to appear within the team. Not only does poor communication affect teamwork, it affects customers too. Nothing riles up a customer more than poor communication. They don’t feel heard or valued.
So how do you get it right? Well, systems can be useful. Again, sit as a team and look at the concept of good communication. What makes it effective? What’s working now? What could your team start, stop or continue doing to improve it? Think about the customers too. What’s their communication experience with your business?
It starts from the top. How you model clear communication will impact on the rest of the team. If you don’t model it and set your expectations, your team won’t either. Set targets for customer experience too, e.g. if they contact you on Twitter, what happens then? How do you ensure they feel valued and listened to? How quickly are problems resolved?
3. Accountability and Responsibility
‘There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.’
It takes a certain type of human to take ultimate responsibility for everything that happens to them. If they can’t control the situation, they look to control their response to it. They don’t blame others and they actively seek solutions until a situation is resolved.
Sounds like the ideal team member, doesn’t it?
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, the weight of responsibility rests heavily on your shoulders. It’s your business after all. But what if you could share some of that responsibility amongst the team?
To grow your business successfully, this is one of the most important, valuable things you can do.
Without encouraging team members to take responsibility and be held accountable, the blame culture creeps in again. You shoulder the burden of mistakes made by others. But by growing a culture of responsibility, you’re not only ensuring great teamwork, you’re building skills that your team members can apply to all areas of their lives.
Again, it all starts with you. How you react when mistakes are made is important. Instead of showing obvious disappointment, which in turn encourages people to blame others or circumstances beyond their control, try asking, ‘What could be done differently next time?’ or ‘What have we learned from this?’ Encourage solution-based thinking.
To grow an accountability culture, set clear deadlines for completion of work. Give enough time for the work to be done. Check in once or twice. Ask for updates. Don’t loom over them and demand minute-by-minute commentary. Just occasionally ask if they need anything else to get the job done.
As a business owner, the temptation is to take complete control. To try and do everything yourself. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that you were doing it all. Social media, accounts, website maintenance, content creation; they were all part of your bag. Maybe some of them still are.
At some point though, you began to build your team. Slowly at first, but as momentum built, you added more freelancers or permanent employees. And with it, the need for delegation.
It’s one thing to delegate, however it’s quite another to trust the person you’re delegating to. You release complete control and have to put trust in their creative direction or technical skills.
It’s not easy. But it is important. Why?
Trusting your team helps to build a stronger teamwork vibe. Knowing that the boss trusts your decisions and ideas is important for the morale and confidence of team members.
So how can you develop that trust and ensure your team are able to deliver the results you want? The truth is you can’t be certain of results. If you’ve delegated a role or a job to someone on your team, you have to accept that it might not be done in exactly the way you want it to be.
You have to trust and respect their creative direction or abilities. As long as you have given clear, concise outcomes, the rest is up to them. And so it should be.
Henry Ford famously quoted that, ‘I’m not the smartest, but I surround myself with competent people.’ You can’t be the best at everything that your business needs. It’s not possible. Work at being the best at the thing that only you can do and delegate the rest to the experts in their own fields.
It’s the only way your business will grow successfully. Trust me.
Effective teamwork is built around trust. We’ve established that. But part of trusting your team is accepting that they will make mistakes. Just like you do.
It’s one thing to make a mistake, it’s quite another to embrace that mistake and begin to unpick it. But by doing so, you can learn so much. Embrace the culture of making mistakes so that true growth and change can occur.
After all, mistakes are how we learn.
When you first began to walk, did you nail it the very first time you tried? I don’t think so. You fell down, got back up and fell down some more. But each time you fell down, your brain worked hard to understand why. As you slept, your brain built more and more pathways to develop ‘the walking thing’ and, with repeated practise, eventually you were off!
Building a business is a bit like learning to walk or ride a bike. You’re going to fall down. A lot. But by analysing why and how you fall, you’ll soon fall a little less. You’ll soon work out the systems and the skills you need to stay upright.
Allow your team members to fall down too. When they do, work with them to analyse what went wrong and then find the solution. If they keep falling down and making mistakes, it’s time to a look a little deeper. But the key thing to remember is that mistakes do happen.
Build your team’s growth mindset. Encourage them to accept that things won’t always work, but they need to look at the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ to help them learn from these experiences. Carol Dweck’s book will give you further insight.
Failure, after all, is the pathway to success.
Respect within business is like a river. It trickles down from the top, meanders throughout the team and eventually filters out to the customers or clients. Without respect at the highest point, you can forget the rest.
That highest point is you, the business owner. But what do I mean when I talk about respect to enhance teamwork?
Hopefully all members of the team have a basic understanding of mutual respect – if they haven’t got it at this level, it’s time to part company. But within a team, it can mean two things.
- Respecting each other’s roles.
- Respecting each other’s opinions.
Each role within an organisation has a specific skillset. I’m a coach, author and teacher. If you asked me to plumb in a toilet, you’d be in for a nasty shock.
Just as the SEO expert has to learn to embrace the creativity of the content marketer or the accountant has to respect the need to sometimes spend more to make more, building respect for the roles within a business is crucial.
With this respect, however, comes healthy debate. Encourage it. Model how to debate a point, but with respect for differing opinions. It’s through these debates that the greatest change can happen. Ideas flourish, forcing people to find the reasons why it might work.
If the space for these is respectful, your team will understand that healthy debate is just part of the culture. It’s not something to hold grudges about. Set the ground rules for debate, establish what is acceptable and then let these discussions commence.
Growth thrives on curiosity. Without it, you stay still. Doing the same things you’ve always done, in the same way you’ve always done them.
Teams thrive on curiosity too. All the greatest thinkers and inventors ask questions. They have an almost insatiable thirst for knowledge, for solutions and for new ways of doing things. Strong teamwork starts with strong questioning.
You stay curious too. Just because your team are thinking about new products or marketing strategies, doesn’t mean you can’t be part of those conversations. Ask open-ended questions to encourage a greater depth to responses. Ensure you’re being genuinely curious and interested though, not just looking for a way to get your point across!
Creating a team of solution-based thinkers starts with great questioning. Instead of a team that come to you with problems, expecting you to provide the answer, you’ll have a team who feel confident to tackle any issues themselves. They’ll come with the problem but also three possible solutions they’ve already thought of.
It all starts with asking ‘Why?’ and ‘How’? Reflection followed by solution.
Build a culture of curiosity in your team. It will not, in this case, kill the cat.
Keeping teamwork at the heart of your business
It’s true, most of this list would be affectionately called ‘soft’ skills. But don’t be fooled! They aren’t as soft as they look. In fact, some of them can take years to get right and, even when you think you’ve cracked them, they bite you on the bum when you’re least expecting it. These soft skills are actually bloomin’ hard to get right.
However, it’s worth the time and the investment. Teams work best when these skills are embedded. Seek out advice and expertise for any of these areas and you’ll soon begin to see an improvement. Your business will begin to bloom and grow in ways you could never have imagined.
Why not be that business that makes these skills a priority? Your employees will thank you for it and so will your clients or customers. Ultimately it will make you happier too.
Terrific teamwork really does seem to make the dream work.
Does you team need some coaching to help develop their soft skills? Contact me today and we can work together to improve your teamwork.