From a very young age, we’re taught to work in groups. Although you may not enjoy collaboration and prefer to work individually, it’s a core career skill that’s important to master. Whether you’re working in a group for a university project, or you’re working with colleagues on a new task, being able to work together effectively can be the difference between the task success or failure.
If working in a team makes you want to pull your hair out, fear not as we’ve outlined 10 top tips on how to work in a team so you know how to increase your productivity and efficiency when working with others:
- Introduce yourselves
If you’re working in a group of people who you’ve never met or worked with before, it’s worth spending five minutes going around the group to find out exactly who they are and where their skills lie. This is a great way to not only bring you closer as a team, but it helps to identify any potential strengths and weaknesses that make it easier to delegate roles and responsibilities later on.
- Communicate - always
One of the main reasons for group failures is down to a lack of communication. After you’ve had your first meeting where you’ve hopefully established roles and responsibilities, insist on having another meeting with everyone after at least a day after working on tasks. Some days you may not have much to tell, but this helps keep everyone up to date on what’s happening. You never know, there might be an overlap of responsibilities - you don’t want to do anything twice unnecessarily!
- Establish roles and responsibilities
To thrive as a team, everyone needs to know what their role is and what responsibilities they have. After you’ve broken the ice and got to know each other, take the time to delegate responsibilities according to strengths and weaknesses that may have risen at the introduction stage. When establishing roles and tasks, add timescales or a timeline to each task. This keeps everyone on the same page and will encourage organisation from everyone.
It can benefit the team to have one or two people who are the leaders or “in charge”, but if everyone agrees to keep it equal, make sure the roles and responsibilities you’ve established are set in stone so it will take the pressure off.
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- Build relationships - get to know one another
Any team needs to build on the groundwork of strong bonds. Even if you’re working on a project with a tight deadline, making those connections will benefit the whole team and the outcome of the task or project itself. After all, people are more influenced and likely to help out someone who they like.
- Set out goals as a group
Each member of the group must know exactly what the aim of the project is and what the goals are, as this ensures everyone is on the same page. Setting goals as a team helps you to recognise when you might be off track, and if you are, simply re-evaluate the goals with all the team.
This fits in with setting a deadline for tasks, as it allows members of the team to pace themselves accordingly. Work on your time management skills with these 10 essential lessons.
- Review progress together
Holding regular meetings to review progress helps to see how on or off-track each member of the team is with their tasks. You can’t assume that everyone is perfectly doing their tasks or that there hasn’t been any questions or problems that have arisen. This is the time to share what you’ve been doing, how far along you are and whether you need support.
- Support each other
It’s not a competition or about going it alone. You’re a team and teams support each other. If each member feels they can collaborate and communicate freely with one another, teamwork is likely to be more effective. You’re all working towards the same common goal, so creating that supportive network will ensure that everyone understands they can rely on each other if they ever need support.
- Bounce ideas off each other
Two heads are better than one! Although individual working has its benefits, working in a team gives everyone space to share their ideas and thoughts about the project. Brainstorming ideas together encourages creativity and boosts performance, which means you’re likely to reach a conclusion or a more established idea faster if multiple people are putting their brain to it!
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- Make decisions together
This one is even more important if there isn’t a specific leader of the project or group. Although having leaders makes decision making easier, unless the leaders allow all members to have a say, it can turn sour. Everyone needs to feel like their voice and opinions are heard and that they are turned into a decision that is fair to all (as much as it can be). Making decisions obviously can come with disagreements, but if these are dealt with in a professional and debated manner, you should be able to come together to make compromises - you can’t always please everyone!
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- Have fun!
People often think that a good team is productive, working to a plan and not shilly-shallying around. It is impossible to get all those cogs working however without proper oiling and maintenance. Social chatter isn’t a waste at the start of the meeting, it puts everyone in a good mood and suggests that their contentment is important to the group. This goodwill may be helpful later if you’re trying to persuade them to do something.
Your communication style is unique to you and everybody has a different way of conveying a message. The Bright Network Academy module on adapting your communication skills will teach you about your communication style and how to deliver it to others.