No man is an island: Five top tips on project teamwork
“In union there is strength.” (Aesop)
When applying for a job and writing your cover the letter you’re sure to include one sentence that explains how well you work in a team. That sentence could go along the lines of (and I cringe as I write this because the sentence is from my cover letter) “I believe that I have what it takes to make the role a success as I have learned how to contribute to a team environment, and am comfortable in both leadership and supporter roles.” Yikes!.
‘No man is an island,’ wrote the metaphysical poet, John Donne. He was right too, despite Hugh Grant’s protests in About a Boy that some people can be an island and if he were he’d be “fucking Ibiza!” (Forgive me, I was given a Hugh Grant DVD box set for Christmas. Just thank your lucky stars I’m not quoting Love Actually).
At Verve Search teamwork is essential and plays a great part in making us a successful company. Verve Search is small and, unlike big corporate companies, everyone who works here knows and has an opportunity to work with each other. During my time working here I’ve become aware that teamwork plays a big part in making Verve Search such a fantastic place to work. Over the past few months I’ve gained a profound sense of what’s needed in order to make a team successful, especially when working on a big project. So with that in mind, here are a few top tips on how to become an effective team member and be part of a team that rocks!
Top Tip No. 1 – Communication is key
In my opinion, this tip is the mother of all top tips for any team. Good communication encourages productive work within a team while excellent communication creates successful teamwork. When people communicate effectively within a team everyone is placed on the same page and is up to date with the work in progress. As a result, goals and deadlines are much easier to reach. A weekly (even daily) meeting really helps to raise interaction levels and encourages people to exchange ideas and stay in contact. Members of a group should always feel comfortable to speak up and offer ideas or talk about any issues they come across during any project. If they don’t, that’s the start of a communication breakdown which will inevitably result in a doomed task.
Top Tip No. 2 – Know your roles and responsibilities
Defining the roles and responsibilities of those on your team is essential. Roles are the positions people assume or the parts that they play in a particular project or process. For example, as Campaigns manager my role is to oversee any projects Verve Search develops. Responsibilities are the specific tasks or duties that members are expected to complete. Some of my job include making sure campaigns are planned and moving on smoothly and attending brainstorming sessions. Everybody has a part to play. Always be aware of your roles and responsibilities.
Top Tip No. 3 – Acknowledge everyone’s strengths
Praise is a powerful thing. Admit it, without it we’d all become disheartened. Now I’m not saying everyone is a narcissist looking for approval, but acknowledging someone for their strengths and achievements has major benefits. They get to see that the work they do does matter, that their actions have been helpful in saving time and energy and they feel amazing for fulfilling their duties. Some companies like to create a bit of competition to make others up their game. I’m not completely sold on the idea of ramping up the pressure on other individuals, but if you do want to add a bit of competition in the office make sure it’s fun and light-hearted and always make sure everyone feels valued at some point.
Top Tip No. 4 – Be open-minded and welcome feedback
Feedback is key to assuring any team is staying on track. It goes hand in hand with communication. Feedback provides information on what goals have been reached, what points have been ticked off the ‘To Do List’, and what’s still left to do. Responses should be critical but also proactive and constant. Many team leaders wait until a problem occurs before they provide any pointers. It’s difficult to master at first but keep the comments coming and make it part of your natural dialogue.
Top Tip No. 5 – Celebrate success like the champions you are!
Always celebrate the success your team achieves. At Verve Search we’re pros at this. Our successes are celebrated by shouting, “WAHEY!”, ringing bells, a ‘Yoda’ employee of the week and (of course) the team pub lunch. Celebration is a short-lived activity. Don’t ignore it. Take the time to celebrate those milestones and review what got you all to the finish line. Congratulate yourselves with a pat on the back, throw a mini party, enjoy a team lunch.
When the project you and your team have been working on is completed the time for celebration is also a time for contemplation. Review what got you all to the end, analyse the success, and plan what worked and what went well (don’t dwell too much on the negative stuff because it’ll only drag you down). Explore what you could do differently next time. Once you’ve done that you’ll all be set for the next big project. I know I am!