At some point, we’re all going to have to work on a team. From family, to friend groups, to project teams at work, we inevitably need to cooperate with others. By being a more productive, collaborative, and positive member of the group, you can touch on and improve almost every part of your life.
So, why not take a moment or two and reflect on how you behave within your team at work, with your family, and even your friends. Nobody is perfect, and no matter how many group projects you did in college, these tips could help you deliver a better end product, whatever team you’re on.
Quality collaboration comes from active and engaged communication. If it sounds simple, it’s because it is. All members of the team should feel free to speak their mind, share ideas, and work with others to find solutions to issues, or get on the same page about logistics.
But there’s more to active communication than regular emails, though that’s a big part of it, according to Nat Measley.
Nat, the founder of Your Culture Story, is both an adjunct professor and a Culture Consultant at Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware, and when he’s not teaching or finding new, better ways to collaborate, he’s helping others publish books to solidify their branding and messaging through his venture.
Nat says “Active communication is obvious to many people, especially in today’s digital age. It can be regular texts or emails, or maybe even communication in something like Slack, but more importantly than just actively communicating, is setting up ground rules for expectations. For instance, after the meeting, it might be wise for someone to draft up some notes to share with everyone about what was covered. Another good practice is to set boundaries for when an email can be expected – if you aren’t on email after 8 p.m., make it known so others can adapt and adjust accordingly.”
Add some boundaries and rules to your communication to help everyone stay on the same page and share the same expectations. But simple communication isn’t always, well, simple, even with ground rules.
It’s about your attitude, too
So you’ve set some rules for your team and started following them. But, committing to communication, even with some ground rules, isn’t enough to guarantee productivity or positivity. It’s important to consider your own attitude and to constantly reflect on how it’s impacting those you work closest with.
“Nothing drags a group down more than someone who doesn’t want to be there,” explained Nat. “A dud team member can definitely get the tempers flaring, but remember to keep it out of email and limit it to face-to-face communication to maintain professionalism in your disagreement.”
The digital age has given us all the power to instantly rebuff any potential attack, over email or otherwise, but doing so forgets the human element of our channels of communication. Can you really say for certain what that person’s tone was, and do you know the ins and outs of their day? A positive attitude and willingness to be flexible in your communication make working with a less-than-stellar teammate more doable, and hopefully in the long run, more positive and productive.
“When I was at the Fun Dept., we had a policy that any snippy emails would immediately require a conversation,” shared Nat. “Rather than fire back over email, we had a small enough team that we could sit down face-to-face and work through whatever it was, safe from the danger of ruffling feathers over digital communication.”
Invest in other’s work (and success)
Another best practice for improving your group’s collaboration is to buy into what your teammates are doing. Learn the intricacies of their daily tasks and share your own as well! If you create a high-level understanding of what’s required from each team member, you’ll also create an environment of understanding and gratitude.
“It’s easy to get caught up in your own tasks and forget what others have on their plate,” noted Nat. “So while you’re setting your boundaries, give an assessment of your tasks so others can not only understand your pain, but positively collaborate to help you improve.”
Caring about your team goes a long way in maintaining healthy and positive working relationships, and these ideas apply to families and friend groups as well. Set your boundaries and share your struggles to transcend unnecessary negativity, and focus on positivity and productivity.