teamwork Archives - TAB Corporate

7 Tips for Boosting Teamwork Productivity

Fishy

In today’s competitive marketplace, the benefits of individual achievement—while always important—pale in comparison to what can be achieved through high-performing teamwork. If you’ve put in the time, strategy and effort to hire the right people for your positions, then it only makes good sense to encourage collaboration for both short-term and long-range projects.

Effective teamwork can significantly accelerate completion of key initiatives, while also acting as a powerful employee retention tool. Employees thrive in a culture where both teamwork and individual initiative are valued and are less inclined to consider other opportunities for employment.

However, if your teamwork efforts are falling short, consider these action steps:

1. Select a leader. A group of employees without a leader is like a rudderless boat. Every team needs someone to take charge, address any conflicts that arise and set the tone and pace for the work to come.

2. Emphasize collaboration and open discussion. The whole point of teamwork is for individuals to bond and share their knowledge and expertise. Your job (or a manager’s job) is to provide all the technical resources necessary to achieve this goal, including:

  • A shared digital workspace, where team members can find documents and other information needed to move forward on a project
  • Easy access to the digital workplace, whether team members are in the office, on the road, in their homes, etc.
  • Opportunities to communicate informally, via chat, video, email, group forums, and so on

3. Delegate intelligently. Different employees bring different skills and qualities to the table. For a team to become more productive, it makes sense to delegate key responsibilities to those individuals best equipped to take on the tasks at hand. Assign these tasks with clearly outlined roles and responsibilities, while making sure everyone feels they’re contributing equally to the project.

4. Empower the team to make decisions. As a project or initiative moves forward, a time will come when key decisions must be made. Problems can arise when the team leader lacks the authority to make such decisions, and must instead defer to senior management and/or the CEO or business owner. Not only does this slow progress, it undermines the team’s confidence in its own ability to handle responsibilities.

As much as possible, empower the team to decide what actions to take (while, of course, keeping all relevant parties informed), so the process is more efficient and effective.

5. Keep your own involvement to a minimum. Teamwork suffers when there’s too much micromanaging from above. Resist the impulse to hold frequent meetings to stay updated on the team’s progress, or to email team members on an overly frequent basis. Give the team more time and space to focus on what you’ve asked them to do. Brief, once-a-week updates are probably all you need in order to stay on track with what the team is doing.

6. Make sure remote workers are part of the team. In some cases, a remotely located employee may offer specific benefits to a team project. It’s critically important to keep this individual (or individuals) in the loop and to make every effort to solicit their input during brainstorming sessions.

Chats and emails are fine, but “you learn more about people when you can watch their mannerisms and facial expressions.” With video conferencing tools, team members can “really connect with the members of their teams living in different parts of the world.”

7. Recognize and reward. Finally, be sure to recognize the achievements gained through teamwork and reward the individuals involved. Public acknowledgment of what the team has achieved offers a strong incentive to do more of the same, and helps promote a company culture that values both individual and team contributions—and wants to retain the talented employees who make it all happen.

Want more advice on promoting teamwork or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

The Most Annoying Business Clichés

From Ducks and Legs Up to Benchmarks and Best Worlds

Have you seen the La Quinta commercials, where the business person stays at the hotel & nails the business cliché the next day? Those are great. I love the one where the narrator says “Here’s a clue. He’s selling ice…” and the Eskimo cuts him off (“They don’t need a clue”). Very funny & effective.

I spent years in Big 5 consulting. So I’ve heard “at the end of the day,” “thinking outside the box” and “low-hanging fruit” enough times to last a lifetime. Some of the common business clichés made no sense to me. So I decided to do some research into the origins of some of the more common clichés:

  • Do you have your ducks in a row? The best explanation for this seems to be from the world of duckpin bowling: the more squat pins which were popular before modern bowling. Prior to modern reset machines, the duckpins had to be manually put in a row. This metaphor therefore refers to being organized and having everything in its place.Are your ducks in a row?
  • I hope that at least once in the last month, you’ve pulled out all the stops. This cliché seems to have come from the world of pipe organs, which have stops to control the airflow through the pipes. Pulling out a stop refers to no control of the pipe and therefore maximum volume.
  • Surely you have a leg up on the competition, which derives from the world of sports as well. Helping an equestrian onto a horse involves giving them a leg up. Maybe this doesn’t create the greatest advantage initially but at least it positions the rider to compete.
  • Getting the best of both worlds – or satisfying multiple conflicting if not impossible demands – comes from literature. The earliest reference comes from Voltaire in Candide, who rejected his mentor’s optimism and concluded, “… if this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?”
  • Taking on a new project involves hitting the ground running.  From the Boston Globe:  “The earliest literal use cited in the Oxford English Dictionary comes from an 1895 story published in several US newspapers. In one fantastic episode, the narrator outruns an assailant with a six-gun: “I knew he had five more cartridges, so I hit the ground running and squatted low down when his gun barked a second time.”
  • All businesses measure themselves and their improvements using benchmarks. Originally benchmarking referred to the mark a surveyor establishes to use as a point of reference. It also refers to a carpenter using the surface of the workbench as a unit of measure.
  • Finally, we frequently take things with a grain of salt. This means we’ll accept them but with a healthy degree of detachment or skepticism. According to English for Students, this goes back to Roman antiquity. Pliny the Elder, the ancient author & natural philosopher, translated an ancient antidote for poison with the words ‘be taken fasting, plus a grain of salt’. The idea comes from the fact that food is more easily consumed if taken with a small amount of salt.

Those are just a few of my favorites. Which ones annoy you the most?

photo credit: John-Morgan via photopin cc