1. Create opportunities for different team members to do different jobs
We use the term 'emotional empathy' to describe this - it’s the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and it’s essential to a productive team.
However, it is something we often see lacking in digital teams.
Because we’re not very cross-skilled. Developers, develop. Designers, design. Project managers, manage.
But we often don’t get a clear appreciation for what the rest of the team does.
Fortunately, this can be easy to fix by creating opportunities for people to shadow and cross-train with other members of the team. It’s a lot easier to appreciate a developer’s workload when you know what a developer does all day. This goes for all the roles in the digital team.
2. Establish clear goals
It’s easier to work as a team if there’s a clear objective that everyone is working towards. This shouldn't be a vague idea of business success like ‘we want the client to be happy with our work’, but rather a specific, measurable idea that has a clear timeframe.
Agile teams in particular need this. Each sprint should have its own goal, and each goal should be clear to the whole team — both in what you’re goals is and how you know you are going to reach it.
3. Bond socially
This is probably the hardest habit to form on this entire list — but also the most important.
Teams that are more acquainted outside the office trust each other more, are freer with giving and accepting advice and help, and will generally work better together.
All of which is great. The only question is, how do you get a group of people to bond?
It’s not easy. Some of it is time — shared successes and failures will help build a team as effectively as any team bonding experience. Another big part is socializing outside of the office. Whether it’s a weekly lunch or a monthly night out, a different setting is an excellent way to get teams off work and onto what makes them valuable individuals.
There’s no playbook for how to bond a team socially. It depends on each team and what works for them.
But a good habit to form is to figure out what works for you and then stick with it. It gets easier with time.
4. Foster a culture of asking for help
It’s important for team members to (a) recognize their weaknesses and (b) be comfortable asking for help.
When these things are both in play, a team will naturally evolve so that each job is handled by the person who’s best at it.
This type of culture will also foster personal growth as the team learns from itself, which makes team members both happier and more productive.
So how do you cultivate this?
There are many different ways. One way is to have one meeting a week and go over one particular problem that one member is having – then the whole team works together to talk about how to solve the problem, and each person gets to see what everyone else is good at. This setting also makes it more comfortable for people to admit that they’re struggling, since presenting a problem isn’t about failure but rather, is a requirement for the meeting.
It is a bit like an internal whiteboard Wednesday – look at a problem, and work together to solve it.
How can we write a post about an effective team and not mention the Big C?
Communication is essential to a good, working team. It’s what makes the rest of this stuff happen and it’s the puzzle piece that’s going to facilitate a fun, positive, and productive work environment and team.
If your team isn’t communicating, no amount if habit forming behaviour is going to help.
So here’s how you facilitate communication between team members:
- Walk over to their desk – don’t send an email
- Use some communication tools – Basecamp, Asana – whatever works for you. You want to make sure that you capture everything your team needs quickly and easily.
- Talk about stuff other than work: You don’t need to be best friends. But the more you get to know someone by sharing aspects of your life, and the easier it is to communicate with them and the better off the whole team will be.
Whether you’re part of a team you want to make better or the leader of a team who wants to make 2018 the best year yet, the start of a New Year is a great time to from positive, productive habits that will keep your team in tip top shape.
These habits will help your team produce great work and be happy while they do it.