by Godfrey Madanhire

TEAM-BUILDING

Pooling project people

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Teamwork is what drives any successful company, and managing that process is key to reaping the rewards of any business endeavour. Here are five things to consider before your next team effort goes awry.

Credit where credit is due

The great benefit of working in a team is that it offers extra opinions, insight and knowledge. It also brings a whole lot of different individuals with different levels of input together, which can create a powerful unit. While it’s important that team members are happy to share credit for their success, it’s equally vital that certain key individuals get acknowledged for any extra special contributions they make. This “division of praise” will ensure that certain individuals don’t slack off if they think they can get a free ride, as well as preventing the achievers from becoming irritated after making the greatest contribution without any sense of appreciation.

Don’t be afraid of the impact players

There will never be a completely equal division of labour in a team, but that shouldn’t affect your chances of success. The 2014 Fifa World Cup was a chance for the bench-warmers to shine, as this year substitutes scored more goals than in any previous World Cup (32!). Just because you don’t get all the screen time or have the spotlight on you all the time doesn’t mean you aren’t important for a team or that you can’t make a really valuable, winning contribution. Sometimes the impact of a carefully thought out idea from one of the team’s daydreamers can be as valuable as the contribution of the team’s workhorse.

Choose the right captain

Someone needs to lead a team on any project, but it doesn’t have to be The Big Boss. This project appointee should not be a dictatorial position that affords the leader the chance to empire-build, but rather it should be part of the collaborative nature of the team. Picture a ship’s captain steering his boat along a pre-determined route—there is great power and control in that position (as well as the opportunity to survey the horizon from a unique vantage point), but the captain has to stay faithful to his crew and their shared vision. Otherwise… mutiny!

Someone to watch over us

It’s vital that all your team members fit into the puzzle, regardless of what their roles are and what impact each has. One member of the team needs to be charged with keeping an eye on everyone else to ensure that they are all participating in their own way, as well as helping to draw a performance out of anyone who has gone quiet or who is showing a reluctance to make a contribution. An unused resource is potentially costly, not only because you lose out on their input, but also because their attitude could filter through to other members of the team.

How to trouble-shoot

When things get heated within a team then productivity plummets. Firstly, create some space and let everyone cool down away from each other, after which you can get them all talking again. steer the discussion towards positive solutions or opportunities. The first rule of selling is to get the buyer saying “yes” to each question, and the same applies when trying to mediate in conflict situations. The former combatants need to search for common ground so that they can move forward together. After all, the project doesn’t care who’s right or wrong, the project just wants to succeed—and that’s the very spirit you need to instil in your team.

Godfrey Madanhire

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