“Wow, I don’t even know what you all do but I’d like to work for a company like that!” said the waitress after she overheard the team recounting short stories and expressing gratitude for each other at dinner post end of year training. Well, “We sell culvert pipe” is not what she expected to hear, and everyone doubled over laughing. Not a single person talked about how great the products are, which they are and deserve their own complete discussions; all were reflecting on the effort of the team over the past year recognizing that’s the real reason for success and satisfaction for each individual’s career.
This team holds many of the top performing individuals in the company. Each of them thanked at least one other team member and leader for their achievements and continued growth. Teamwork comes in many different forms, and this team has found some best practices that can easily be replicated.
First, recognizing the strengths and experience held by the whole rather than relying solely on ones’ own abilities. There is always greater regret in not enlisting another for fear of admitting lack of knowhow than in understanding and utilizing the whole teams’ areas of expertise to gain new personal competencies, and better advance the current project concurrently.
The second key piece to leveraging teamwork is quality communication. Scheduled communications are necessary before any item becomes mission critical. Setting regular communications with known agendas, with time for accommodating urgent topic adds, will ensure all key parties stay ahead of needs as well as issues before anything becomes critical. These regular communications are an excellent way to identify key strengths and aptitudes of other team mates as well, for both current and future project items. Keep the agenda efficient, recognize when meetings vs. written formats are best for those involved, and be willing to adapt new formats when necessary.
Finally, to utilize teamwork and communication effectively for streamlining projects, all team members need visibility to project information. This requires committed use of communications tracking by the whole team. The method should be discussed and agreed upon by the team as a critical piece of individual contribution to project success. For example, pieces of information can quickly spread between meeting notes, Microsoft Teams files, Custom Relationship Management (CRM) software, shared computer drives, email history, and others. Establishing a specific location or method is critical and should be used constantly by the team to give quick visibility to needed information.
While there is no substitute for extensive knowledge, positive attitude, high drive, and significant individual contributors, some best practices can help any group of people better work together as a team, communicate, and streamline a project.
- Lean on each other’s strengths while improving one’s own
- Establish regular communication methods and schedules
- Create consistent project information visibility
Replicating these three best practices of a top performing team at Contech will certainly set a good pace for any team with a common goal.