I have been privileged to work with multiple teams of greatness in my career.  From the Arts & Science College Computing (ASCC) guys at the University of Toledo to my tech support team and co-workers at the Internet service provider… from the IT department at the manufacturing firm to the teams I work with in my current position… I’ve worked in various environments, but no matter how different the environment is, the teams all had something in common.  There was a great chemistry among certain team members that made that team effective, efficient, and strong.

As I watch some teams crumble, I wonder why.  I don’t understand it all the time, but when I do see teams fall apart, it’s usually a lack in leadership or cohesion among team members. Which again.. I don’t understand why they don’t work at their relationship and just let the team fall apart.

Being on a team is much like maintaining any relationship in your life.  If the team is having issues, the team needs to recognize their problems and seek out ways to get around the problems or solve them, so that they can be a strong team.

Things I’ve found that work well with the teams I’ve worked with include:

  • Team bonding is a good thing.  When I worked with the ASCC guys, we’d do lunch together every now and then – be it at the student union cafeteria or the BW3’s just off campus.  It was a great chance for us to take a break from the chaos of the day and just chat.  Bonding as a team helps the team understand each other and helps it get stronger.
  • Be each other’s cheerleaders and support.  One of my current teams works well like this.  When someone does something that really helps out, the rest of us will offer words of praise. When someone is struggling with their part, the rest of us are saying things like “How can we help?” and “Come on!  You can do it!”  
  • Be honest with your teammates.  If you make a mistake that’s going to hurt your team, own up to it.  While it may be a stupid thing, at the same time, owning up to and fixing your mistakes can help you earn respect among your teammates.
  • Remember that it’s not personal, it’s business.  This is one thing I’ve been saying a lot when talking with friends who ask how I do what I do.  When I offer constructive criticism, if I know it won’t be taken well, I will preface it with that.  If you’re on a team at work, remember your overall project owner and that your team has to make sure it’s the best product/service for your project owner.
  • Play off each other’s strengths when times are tight, but then learn from each other’s strengths when time allows.  This way, you get the project done in ample time when times are tight, but then when you have more time, you can make your team a well-rounded team by learning from each other.
  • Keep an open line of communication among teammates.  This is essential.  A breakdown in communication can easily lead to failure.
These are just some of the things I’ve found that work with the great teams that I’ve been a part of in my career so far.
So next time you find yourself on a team that is questionable or iffy, keep these tips in mind and make the team a great one!