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10 keys for effective teamwork

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Effective teamwork is crucial for any enterprise to succeed. It’s not limited to businesses either. Sports teams, music bands, and even families need effective teamwork to get things done. Business leaders are always interested in the secret to effective teamwork. After all, you don’t want to hope that you’ll get lucky with the team you’ve assembled for a project. 

Great teams – the ones that deliver phenomenal results – have certain characteristics. And businesses can learn and apply them when creating teams to achieve their goals. For example, if you know that a successful team relies on effective collaboration, you can equip your teams with tools to help them collaborate better. It’s a far better strategy than trusting that a randomly assembled group of people will somehow be successful.

10 keys for effective teamwork

Businesses may create teams for various reasons, both long-term and short-term. Some teams are temporary, created for a specific project, and disbanded afterward. Others are more long-term, often spanning years implementing crucial projects for the organization. 

1- Every team should have clearly defined goals

Effective teamwork needs several things but perhaps the most important is to have clearly defined goals. Quite often, business leaders create teams for a task that’s ill-defined or vague. If the team does not know their goals, how will they achieve them?

Consider two teams. One has the mandate of reducing costs by 30% in 5 years. The other team is simply told to improve profitability for the business. The first team will be more likely to succeed than the second.

Why? The second team has no numbers or clear directives. Should they focus on cutting costs or boosting sales? How much improvement can they hope to achieve? 

The first team, however, has a head start. They already know:

  • What they need to achieve – cut costs
  • By how much – 30%
  • When – in 5 years

2-  A successful team has clear communication

Communication between teams is a crucial factor for success. Open, honest, and clear communication plays an important role throughout a project. How you communicate and how often it happens influences effectiveness. If you trust your colleagues, you are more likely to share insights and ideas. Communication encompasses more than just talking, listening is an important component as well. 

It’s no wonder businesses invest so much in communication tools. A successful team needs the ability to communicate across channels at any time. You don’t want staff to be playing phone tag every time they need to update someone or discuss something. Between phone calls, email, text messaging, instant messaging, video chat, group calls, virtual meetings, and even voicemail, there is no dearth of options.

So how can you make sure your teams communicate effectively and get work done? Invest in a platform that allows you to integrate multiple channels into a cohesive system. In today’s world, that often means unified communication suites that use VoIP as the foundation. VoIP allows businesses to use their existing data network for voice calls, video calls, group audio and video calls, instant messaging, visual voicemail, and even faxing. 

Ensure your teams have access to the best communication tools and see their effectiveness skyrocket.

3-  Effective teamwork requires collaboration

If you look at successful teams, you often see a particular trait stand out. It’s the ability to collaborate closely with each other to create solutions. Whether it’s the launch of a new product or addressing quality assurance issues, close collaboration is necessary for effective teamwork. 

There was a time when collaboration meant everyone showing up in a meeting room and brainstorming/working together. Teams used collaborative tools like whiteboards, pens, and paper, meetings, etc. In 2021, that model is pretty limiting for teams that may be scattered across the world.

Today’s collaborative tools are almost always online and accessible from anywhere. Meetings are virtual, document sharing happens in the cloud and the team may not even meet face to face even once. But the mere existence of such tools doesn’t mean your teams will use them. You need to make it as easy as possible for everyone to access them. Your business needs dictate the exact apps you use but you should cover the basics.

4- Unique roles and identities

Teamwork requires everyone to work towards a common goal but every member should have a clearly defined role. Your staff has unique identities shaped by their experiences and skillsets, so use them to your advantage when assembling the team. Some managers try to minimize conflict within the team by bringing people who already work well together. But their skill set or roles may not be suitable for the project.

Generally speaking, teams need members who can fulfill specific roles such as:

  • Creatives and explorers who can look at the big picture
  • Methodical and logical people to work out the details, keep the team on task, etc
  • Financial experts to crunch numbers and to keep track of metrics
  • Operational staff to set up logistics, distribution, supplies, and so on

Naturally, roles will be fluid until the team settles in and you may need more or fewer roles depending on the project. But it’s critical to consider them before staffing. 

5-  Establish processes from the start

Effective teamwork is not all about individuals, it’s also about processes. Every project has milestones, deadlines, schedules, and work tasks that need completion. These should be documented and easily accessible. It’s not just filing them away after the project, teams can and should use them to complete tasks.

It’s important to establish and use these processes from the outset. Consider how the team will:

  • Distribute the work: who does what, when, and how
  • Dependencies: what tasks need to be completed first and what can wait
  • Milestones: what deadlines should be met and how to schedule work accordingly
  • Status updates: who should be informed of progress and how will these be sent out

The team should agree on processes so there is no doubt about what tools to use for which purpose. This will make it easier to focus on work, instead of the minutiae like should you use email to talk to management or schedule a meeting.

6- Trust and commitment

Successful teams rely on deep bonds between the people involved. Some team members may even develop personal friendships outside work. But the important thing is that everyone respects and trusts one another. There should mutual trust to encourage idea sharing and no one should be afraid of voicing their opinions.

Effective teamwork only happens when everyone is strongly committed to the outcomes. Team members should support one another and rely on teammates to work on obstacles together. 

7- Encourage risk-taking 

There is a fundamental misconception about teams and that is the fact that everyone assumes teamwork discourages risk-taking. It’s not surprising since the news is dominated by charismatic leaders spearheading changes in the business, almost reading a crusade against established practices.

But the reality is that most successful teams encourage risk-taking. The members are able to bring their unique experiences and perspectives to the table. This enables individuals to take risks when it comes to making tough decisions. They know their colleagues will have their backs and also rectify any mistakes if and when they happen. Team members are not ridiculed for taking risks, rather they are encouraged to do so.

8- Creativity and innovation

Similar to risk-taking, creativity and innovation are necessary for teamwork to yield results. Whether you’re talking about brainstorming sessions to generate unique ideas or evaluating wild strategies to launch a new product, creativity is essential. So is a focus on continuous improvement and innovation. 

The attitude towards risks, creativity, and innovation is what separates great teams from mediocre ones. A close examination of successful teamwork – whether it’s for a business project, a sports team, or band – will show the same nexus of creative and innovative thought.

9- Conflict resolution

Effective teamwork does not mean members will never clash or have opposing viewpoints. A successful team, however, will have a proper means of resolving such conflicts. Members are thoughtful and show respect to each other even when they have differing opinions. There are no personal attacks or unprofessional behavior. 

A successful team consists of unique individuals with diverse opinions. Occasionally there will be a conflict between individuals but it will never spiral out of control to threaten effective teamwork. Another avenue of conflict is when the team is facing failure. When that happens, team members do not blame one another. Everyone is accountable for their actions and participates by contributing to the overall goals.

10- Decision making and leadership

Almost everyone assumes that a strong leader is necessary for effective teamwork. However, the most successful teams use a form of participatory leadership. This means rather than one person leading the rest, everyone participates in leading the team to success. This includes tasks like taking meeting notes, assigning tasks, making decisions, and recording outcomes. This leadership style allows everyone to contribute to successful outcomes, instead of centering all responsibilities on one person.

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Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?

Start a free 30 day trial now, no credit card details are needed!

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