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Working Better As a Team

Working Better as a Team

  For years, there has been a shift towards employees working at times and in places that allow them to work most effectively.  Recently, organizations that had not yet begun that shift experienced more of a struggle but managed to make it work.  The COVID-19 closures created even more of a challenge with some working from home for the first time without the proper tools, team training, or environment along with the heroic task of fulltime childcare.

It is widely believed and likely that remote work will take a much bigger role in our futures.  Finding ways to make it work when you have to may lead to a better way to operate as the pandemic dust settles.  But most importantly, exploring new ideas of how to work together effectively regardless of the work environment will create stronger organizations. 

working together

Harvard Business Review: three kinds of distance in remote collaboration: physical (place and time), operational (team size, bandwidth, and skill levels), and affinity (values, trust, and interdependency).  The best way, they say to drive team performance is by reducing affinity distance.

Read the full article here.

Here are a couple of highly effective tactics you can implement today.

Create clear agendas: Set meetings with clear purposes and clear timeframes.  Someone should be leading the conversation and ensuring that the group stays on topic.  If important concerns off-topic are brought to light, acknowledging and saving for another discussion is best.

Prepare participants ahead of time: If there is information needed ahead of time, provide it.  Make the most out of time together by only discussing the things that need to be discussed TOGETHER.  Work done alone can be requested to be done before the meeting or assigned afterward with a deadline.

Set rules of engagement: What challenges do you commonly have with team members and in doing work together?   Do some people lack buy-in of the ideas because the “group” decided and they don’t feel ownership?  Ask everyone to commit and provide input because the decision is theirs to own. Consider setting your own group norm agreement.  Ask me how.

Ask for participation: If someone doesn’t participate is their attendance necessary?  Do some people only pay attention when they are being spoken to?  Let’s be honest, it’s easy not to pay attention when we can get by without it.  Require video or ask frequent questions to get everyone’s input.  If they know it is coming they may have more reason to be ready.  And if this is a common theme, what could be done outside of meetings to respect everyone’s time?  

Provide a summary: Recap action items or clear decisions from the meeting.  As the leader of a meeting, by doing a quick recap of what was decided or who needs to do what by when you not only bring closure to the topic but also provide a sense of accomplishment.  This also ensures that the time spent doesn’t go to waste with unfulfilled action items. Many times, busy people go from one meeting to the next.  So, if follow ups are not loaded into our work schedules it is very easy to move on to the next to-do list item and forget the new one.

Over-communicate:  Don’t let people guess what you’re asking or telling them.  Take the time to properly communicate.  Refrain from shorthand and abbreviations.  

Set clear priorities for yourself every week: Everyone has their own priorities and may need to vie for each other’s time.  How do you decide when to do what, when to say no, and when to drop what you’re doing to support someone else?  This starts with an understanding of the big objective of your organization, how your accountabilities fit in, and what your top weekly tasks to get that done may look like.  If you can only get one thing done every day, what is going to move the dial the most?

Set aside time for priorities:  For many busy people, not having enough time is a top excuse.  If you’re setting aside the time for your important things they will get done.  Once you know what the important things are to do, what is the best way to make ensure you get them done?  Some people like to “swallow the frog” and get the most important things done first. For others, time blocking helps.

Take time to ask genuine personal questions: When you’re busy, it’s easy to jump right into the task on hand.  Learning and sharing personal stories create a quick break in the workday and helps team members to understand each others mindset and even perspective.

Do what you say you’re going to do.  Period.

Set expectations: if people know you use time blocking and look at your emails only twice per day, they may find better ways to reach you with urgent questions.  They may better assess what the meaning of urgent is if they have to call.  They may even pick up on some of your time management techniques by following them as well!  Establish a way to get in touch if a response is needed within a certain time-frame that you will stick to.


With my efforts to work more effectively over the years, I have magically been able to get more done with little effort. ????!!!!!!

Oh, wait…it isn’t magic and I’m still putting in the effort.  What has changed?

  • I know what my priorities are so I get them done first.  The things I don’t get done, get added to the next list and if they never become a priority, they are removed.
  • Everyone sees my progress and wants to be just as successful.  They want to know all the tricks and try for themselves.  
  • I track what gets done and what doesn’t.  Nothing falls is forgotten – because I don’t actually have to remember it when it’s on a list.


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