It’s challenging to get any initiative off the ground or project completed without some degree of team effort. Compared to the past, employees are now on more teams than ever and spend more of their day-to-day life at work engaged in collaborative work of some form.
The Definition of Team Effort
In the workplace, team effort happens when a group of people willingly contribute their time, energy, and resources to collaborate to achieve a common goal, task, or project.
Why is Team Effort Important?
It may go without saying, but teams that demonstrate a high level of effort are the ones that are more likely to achieve their targets, develop innovative solutions, and add value to their department and organization. For this reason, many team leaders ponder ways in which they can increase their team’s effort.
In this blog, we share our nine secrets on how anyone tasked with leading a team can accelerate their team’s effort and reap the benefits of increased morale, productivity, engagement, and team performance.
9 Ways to Boost Team Effort
- Strengthen team alignment
- Create psychological safety
- Breakdown internal silos
- Show appreciation
- Ensure role clarity
- Encourage team empowerment
- Set team accountabilities
- Provide informal communication tools
- Lead productive team meetings
Strengthen Team Alignment
A study by Salesforce uncovered that 97% of professionals agreed that a lack of team alignment directly impacted the outcome or project. So it’s no surprise that their effort becomes diluted when team members go off in different directions.
To overcome a lack of alignment, kick off the first team meeting by discussing the team goals, milestones, strengths, barriers, values, and how you plan on staying aligned. We’ve even created an alignment worksheet you can use with your team.
Create Psychological Safety
As defined by Harvard, psychological safety is “the belief that one can speak up without the risk of punishment or humiliation,” which can be the linchpin to how much effort an individual is willing to give to a team.
Leaders are the ones who can create a team environment that promotes psychological safety. They do this by role modeling the behaviors such as promoting open communication, demonstrating emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, empathy, and humility, deploying mindful listening, recognizing their own unconscious biases, and encouraging diversity of thought. In addition to role-modeling these behaviors, team leaders must reinforce and require their team members to do the same.
Breakdown Internal Silos
No team lives on an island of its own. Organizations, more than ever, are interconnected, and teams across an organization are interdependent. That’s why team leaders should actively break down internal silos so their teams can progress by quickly getting the answers and resources they need from others in the organization without stalling team effort due to internal bureaucracy.
A simple “good job, team,” to show your appreciation for the team’s effort goes a long way in motivating and encouraging a team to keep going. In fact, Harvard found that 40% of employees would give more energy at work if they were recognized more. Therefore, show your appreciation frequently if you want to accelerate your team's effort.
Ensure Role Clarity
Role clarity, knowing your responsibilities, and how your role fits into the greater organization is just as important when you’re on a team as when you’re working on your own. In a survey by Effectory, they found that when individuals have high role clarity, they report having high levels of effectiveness (86%), productivity (83%), and satisfaction with leadership (75%), all of which are essential factors to amplifying team effort.
To ensure role clarity on your team, work together as a group to define:
- The unique focus of each role on the team and what success looks like for each individual
- How each role contributes to the success of the team
- How the team will coordinate and work together to stay aligned, communicate what is being worked on, and any setbacks that will have implications on other team members
Encourage Team Empowerment
When teams are empowered, they’re given the authority and control to make decisions and use their judgment to achieve the team’s goal. Empowered teams have autonomy over their activities, and leaders who grant this experience heighten team productivity and engagement, two essential factors impacting team effort.
However, team empowerment without team accountability can be a recipe for disaster as each team member will have the autonomy to make their own decisions without a tie to delivering on their commitments. That’s why our sixth and seventh recommendations must go hand-in-hand.
Set Team Accountabilities
Accountability, as we define it,” is when an employee or team accepts responsibility for their actions and choices that lead to an outcome, whether good or bad.” So, by definition, it’s clear to see why empowered teams must also be accountable.
However, given the importance of team accountability, one survey uncovered that 25% of leaders said an absence of accountability is the biggest hurdle for them in leading their teams. So how can you ensure individual and team accountability? The Niagara Institute guide, How to Hold Employees Accountable, lists six ways to create a culture of accountability in your team.
- Demonstrate accountability yourself: If you want your team to be accountable, you must also be.
- Define clear expectations: Team members must know and understand their accountabilities and those of their teammates.
- Get commitment: Accountability cannot be forced. Instead, each team member must commit to achieving their personal and team accountabilities.
- Grant freedom: As mentioned above, empowerment and autonomy must be granted for an individual or team to commit to accountability.
- Overcome failures: For accountability to thrive, individuals should feel supported and not ostracized for asking for help or falling short of accountability.
- Provide feedback: Delivering frequent and timely constructive feedback on direction and progress will help the team feel supported in achieving their accountabilities.
Provide Informal Communication Tools
Informal communication tools such as Slack or Teams, where teammates can share quick updates, collaborate on a task, troubleshoot roadblocks, and celebrate wins, can increase team communication, cohesion, and effort. In addition, it was found that 75% of employees prefer to interact with colleagues as they would a friend, making these tools essential for teamwork.
Lead Productive Team Meetings
When done well, team meetings can be a catalyst for accelerating team effort. From getting aligned to motivating each other, and sharing updates, the time together in team meetings can be invaluable. However, team meetings can become a check-the-box activity and lose effectiveness over time. If you find that your meetings could use a tune-up, steal one (or all) of these team meeting ideas. They may help move your team in the right direction to boost their effort.
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