Work groups or teams have become common in many business structures. Companies rely on them to collaborate on projects and tasks by coming up with ideas and solutions and discussing the benefits of each. Effective teamwork has several key components.
Communication is a vital component of any effective team. Teams communicate internally, with project leaders, with other work teams and with clients or business partners. To succeed at teamwork, members must understand when to communicate, how to communicate, and what to communicate. This often includes sharing ideas and thoughts and listening within group discussions.
Just as individuals need something to shoot for, work teams need concrete and meaningful goals. A key difference is that the team has shared goals that ideally motivate all team members to work together. Participating actively in the development of team goals can help an individual team member stay motivated. Specific outcomes, such as completion of a product development task, as well as concrete deadlines that drive performance are critical to effective team goals.
A key early task in team development is the establishment of duties, task responsibilities and work processes. This includes the assigning roles, agreeing on deadlines and scheduling team meetings. Clear work processes help each team member understand his role within the team and his requirements to collaborate as projects move along. As a team member, it is important to assert the importance of defined work structures soon after a team is formed and shortly after goals are identified or developed.
Two major factors -- mutual accountability and complementary skills -- commonly drive team success. Each team member needs to accept that he is a part of something broader than himself and that when team members push, it is for the team's benefit. Because of this, conflict resolution skills are also valuable for team members. Team members must be able to remain calm and professional when discussing differences, and choose the appropriate way to manage and resolve conflicting ideas or viewpoints. This might include backing down when another team member is especially passionate about an idea. Complementary skills usually benefit a team by providing a broader range of abilities. It is important that each member recognize the value of each team member's skills.
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