I’ve been spending quite a lot of time thinking about this. What makes a good team? What helps the members better communicate and work together. What causes the conflicts they might have to sort out in the future? I have not reached all the possible conclusions, but I think what keeps things going is basic common sense.

Most teams are actually collections of smaller teams. And the leaders of each team are highly important. They have to know how to manage their own team, motivate them, try their best to be impartial and fair, and make sure the collaboration model they promote when it comes to other teams is a functional one.

I strongly believe that the team leader’s actions and attitude are subsequently reflected by the actions of the people they manage. For example, if a Sales manager has the bad habit of treating a marketing department as if they were a joke, no good and highly incompetent, it’s most likely the sales people they manage will act the same way.

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And now we come to the common sense aspect. I believe companies who know what they want and have a pretty good HR department are not about to go and hire all the incompetents in the world. Therefore, most team members are good at what they are doing. They bring a certain value to the company and in most cases there are nothing close to being crazy or antisocial. So what everyone (from the top down) should do to make things work is pretty simple:

1. Try to be as clear as possible when saying/writing something and make sure everyone understands you.

2. Give everyone the benefit of doubt. If something does not happen as you’ve planned it, don’t go making accusations when you have no idea what the others have been doing.

3. Agree on a means of communications and stick to it. Don’t go asking why you weren’t emailed the details of the project if you’ve agreed it’s better to use an online system to update task progress.

4. If you go crazy one day and publicly make false statements and accusations, apologize publicly. Private apologies will never compensate the damage you have caused.

5. Review all facts carefully and bare in mind you are human and could be missing important details.

6. Give everyone a second chance, including yourself, and try again.

As you see, nothing complicated. You can have all the training you want to make your team better professionals, to get them to be more efficient, to help them improve. But to have a team that gets along, has common goals and stays open minded, all it takes is common sense.

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