Teamwork. It’s a popular word. We hear it a lot at work and outside of work as well.
Teamwork is needed for the completion of projects that require different areas of expertise to be successful. That sounds great, right? On paper it does. In reality, teamwork is complicated.
I remember those team exercises we used to do in college. I experienced two variations, in one team everyone did what they were supposed to do, and in de other, the work of 5 was done by 2 team members. I’ve seen these variations occur again in the workforce over the years. Sometimes it is obvious which team members underperformed. Other times it is difficult for team members to pinpoint the underperformance especially when it’s the team leader that is the weakest link of the team.
UNDERSTANDING TEAM MEMBERS
Each team member has a specific task to perform based on their competencies at the same time each member has their own way of completing the job. I learned that it is important to state clear agreements, and deadlines in order to successfully complete the project. Here comes the tricky part, not everyone will follow the agreements or respect the deadlines.
Ideally, every individual can perform the assignments based on their competencies but in reality, you often deal with individuals not suitable for the job but for some reason, they are there doing the job.
There are people who need constant supervision, and there are also those people who can complete the job independently. It takes time for the project leader to identify these behaviors. It is also unfair to judge everyone the same.
Each individual has challenges to overcome and a way to work with others. So, it’s not the same for someone with kids working in your group, as well as it’s not the same for a person studying for a Ph.D. degree.
When distributing the assignments to team members, one should take these into consideration. Try to talk with each team member individually to get to know their background and what they think of their position. Follow that up with an open meeting to discuss the extent of involvement of each team member.
REWARDS AND CONSEQUENCES
Encourage discussion and commitment within your team, and make sure everyone knows the importance of the project. There should be consequences when deadlines are not met and there is no justifiable argument for not meeting the deadline. There should be some consequences for those that couldn’t perform their work. On the other hand, when deadlines are met, they should be celebrated and team members should be rewarded.
There should be a sense of equality within the team that everyone has a say in contributing to completing the project. There are several ways to do this, like scheduling monthly or bi-weekly meetings, sharing content, and asking for feedback. This is difficult to do when team members feel their feedback is not valued and when it’s overlooked or ignored by the team leader. Bringing the right balance to teamwork is challenging and constantly needs nurturing for its development. Management sets the tone for that development by incentivizing a culture of open dialogue where the feedback provided is valued.