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"I Like it Here:" Effective Teamwork

"I Like it Here:" Effective Teamwork

According to studies, teamwork makes your, believe it or not, dreams work

July 22, 2022

9 min read

Learnables

Michael Sullivan

Michael Sullivan

Content Marketing Manager

If a marketing agency lacks teamwork and version 4.1 instead of 4.2 of a photoshopped donut is used in an Instagram post ("This personified donut was supposed to be smirking, not smiling, Emily!"), it’s not the end of the world. On the other hand, if there’s a lack of teamwork in the construction industry the results could be deadly. Don't worry OSHA, we mean "deadly" metaphorically. This is a family-friendly blog.

Put the trust ball away, Ted; effective teamwork doesn’t always have to include a convoluted bonding team exercise.

Like building any habit so that it becomes ingrained, the most effective teamwork strategies will be implemented gradually each day, compared to some companies that have the annual "Let's Think Really Hard About and Emulate Quality Teamwork Day" before rushing back to their cozy silos. Once-every-so-often team outings are still quite valuable and encouraged—as long as that happy hour or mini-golf night is paired with daily communication and teamwork efforts from all levels of management. 

Why is effective teamwork important?

Increasingly, the construction industry is looking to hire the next generation with a large number of current employees retiring, creating an age gap in the industry. With a much publicized shrinking skilled workforce, general contractors must prioritize hiring as much as retaining quality team members.

When looking to hire Millennials and Gen Z, it’s important to acknowledge that money is far and away the number one factor (it's admittedly silly that it needs to be specified that livable wage is important, but not long ago a barely livable wage for most people was the norm). Higher salary just makes the next priorities forgivable should they be "mailed in," ie., folks may put up with a poor work-life balance or a terrible company culture if they're paid enough (though trust that burnout is inevitable). Work-life balance should be just as "required" as a livable wage but is so often cast to the wayside because of its supposed effort.

Work-life balance isn't just a buzz-phrase, it's the key to retaining long-term employment as the fuse of patience before burnout has never been shorter. According to surveys from Deloitte and Robin, Millennials and Gen Z desire work-life balance, improved learning and development opportunities, mental health support, and an emphasis on their employment striving for positive societal impact.

From Robin, the answers to the question "What what it take to stay in your job?" are as follows:

45% higher salary

21% better benefits and perks

18% better leadership or a change in leadership

9% flexible work hours

5% a stronger company culture

2% a promotion

1% 1:1 mentorship from an executive

It's one thing to say your organization values teamwork and another to actually instill good teamwork. Effective teamwork is an implicit piece of several of these answers and is directly controllable by management. Better leadership being the third most popular answer implies, in part, faulty teamwork. For work hours to be flexible, effective teamwork is also implicit. And we don't have to explain why a stronger company culture is connected to effective teamwork.

Potential hires will inquire about teamwork strategies and be cautious if there are red flags 

TalentQ talks about the main three reasons a team fails: 

  1. Mistrust

  2. Misfunction (TalentQ valued alliteration over correct spelling here, but we digress)

  3. Misalignment 

If there are signs of these traits within a company, it’s going to be even more difficult to hire loyal employees. 

Signs of a solid team

The Harvard Business Review highlights the secrets of great teamwork. The secret's out— below are some of the highlights from their study. 

A clear sense of direction

Most employees don’t thrive when tasks involve vague communication. 

For example, “This task needs to be done soon,” could mean different due dates, whereas “This task needs to be done and shared with the team by this Friday at 2pm,” is much easier to grasp. This sort of communication obviously isn't scalable if it's done every time which is why an overarching agreed upon timeline for certain to-do's makes sense for this scenario. Communicating is an important tool to utilize in all fields, verbally or through collaborative technology such as CRM.  

CRM has become a must-have piece of the tech stack in the last two decades. Most industries have embraced them; according to estimates 91% of organizations with 10 or more employees use a CRM and 82% use them for sales reporting and process automation. A CRM can help your team find a clear sense of direction because: 

  • All the minutia of your client data is in one place (ie., last touchpoints and personal attributes to remember about them if you deem them worthy of noting)

  • Pursuits can be collaborated on so no one's stepping on anyone's toes. "When's the last time anyone's called Joe?"

  • You have the ability to forecast your project pipeline and assign project roles based on any criteria your company sees fit, ie., seniority or accreditation.

A unified mindset sets you apart

Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” After looking over his resume, Michael has some footing to trust him.

Whether your version of winning an NBA championship is winning a bid with an existing client you weren't sure you'd retain, or a complicated project making a tight deadline (or more realistically, making it not long after a tight deadline), the principal is the same. When a team is unified on their mindset, reaching the championship is more likely. 

A similar mindset extends further than using technology to communicate. What is the mindset employees have in the morning when they first step foot into the office or worksite? If there are members of the team that are pessimistic about the day, that will spread a negative mindset to the rest of the team (although everybody has those mornings where every little thing goes wrong. This is why donuts are so valuable). 

Mindset can shift within a company quickly, and it just takes one person to bring motivational (and not suffocating) energy; think of it as “positive peer pressure.” 

"What do you need from me?"

So, why do some teams work well together and others don’t?

The truth is, sometimes a leader can try their best to implement the strategies listed above, but there is still something missing. There are tangible ways to create an environment for effective teamwork to thrive.

Quantum Workplace advocates for the benefits of one-on-one meetings between higher-ups and employees. They believe that when done well these meetings can “foster productive, ongoing performance conversations that actually boost performance.” Managers should often ask their team, "what do you need from me?" This is not only because it'll improve team productivity, it'll instill a supportive atmosphere that quells anxiety and assures employees.

During meetings of any size (but especially smaller meetings) it’s important to display active listening as both a manager and employee. This looks like listening to the employees and responding well to questions, instead of shutting them down. 

Open and constructive (see what we did there?) dialogue between colleagues will build trust within the team, one of the core ingredients of effective teamwork. Affirmation is never unwanted; if the feeling strikes or even if it doesn't you should vocally and publicly give credit where credit is due.

Keep in mind that effective teamwork takes time to build, and putting even a couple of these steps into action will help the team.

For more tips on instilling an attractive work environment that will help you hire and retain high-quality talent, check out the greatest hits from the Buildr blog:

Evidence of a toxic workplace: 7 things to look out for

Bizdev for General Contractors: Developing a Strong Reputation Internally

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