In almost every industry, people at the workplace will have to work together on a project at some point. Being good at your job is extremely important. However, you also need to know how to effectively work with others in order to be a well-rounded employee. If you aren’t able to work well with others, this can be a reason for you to be passed up for a promotion or a new position. For some people, working with others is an innate skill.
They may even prefer working with others better than working alone. Others prefer to work alone. Working with others can be frustrating or intimidating to them. If working with others isn’t a natural skill, it’s something you need to develop to be successful in your career. Here are tips on essential team dynamics and methods of handling conflict in the workplace.
Managing a Workplace Team
Leadership outside of the group is just as important as any leadership inside of the group. You need to create the group and set expectations of what the end goal should be. You also have to create expectations of how people should work together.
Putting Together a Team
Creating a team is extremely important. Putting together the wrong team can cause a waste of time and money. It may even prolong the completion of an important project.
In order to create an effective team, you need to know the people who work for you. Everyone under you has specific strengths and weaknesses. One employee might have great communication skills while another team member might have great research skills.
A good leader knows this. Keep your eyes open before you need to build a team to learn this information. If you don’t have a lot of face-to-face interaction with your team, ask them to take surveys periodically to help learn about them. You also need to put the right people together.
Each team requires a number of different people. It’s important to look at personal relationships in the workplace to avoid putting people together who don’t get along. Alternatively, you may use the project as a way for people who don’t get along to learn how to work together professionally. Of course, that’s a big risk that you might not want to take with a crucial project. Of course, that risk could result in a much better work environment for everyone.
You also need a good combination of people. It’s not a good idea to put all similar people into one group. Different personalities bring different things to the table. When too many strong-minded people come together, it can cause people to butt heads. When too many mild people come together, it can create a team that doesn’t get as much done as you’d like. Get to know the personalities of the people who work for you so you can mix up the different personalities. Try putting social people with introverts, hard workers with people who aren’t quite ambitious, experienced employees with newbies, and serious people with the clowns.
While not ideal, if you really don’t know how to create teams, you can make the decision to create teams randomly. Once you see how the different teams work together, you can use this information to more effectively create teams in the future.
No matter how effective the teams were, things at the workplace can always be better. Ask people to tell you about their experience with a unanimous survey. You can use this information to help teams be happier or more productive.
When you organize a team at the workplace, you need to establish expectations. Clarify exactly what needs to be done and when you expect it to be done. Be thorough about your expectations so that the end results are what you need it to be. Set challenging expectations to encourage team members to work at a fast pace. When you notice one team is moving much quicker than other teams, you know that it’s possible to move at that pace.
Manage the progress of groups at work by having them work on an internal software that allows you to monitor their progress. Otherwise, you can ask for an update from the group every day before they leave. When you monitor progress, you can tell people if they aren’t at the place they should be.
You also need to set expectations about how things should work in the group. Everyone needs to contribute. To be sure of this, explain that you expect every member of the team to discuss who did what when they present the final project. Everyone also needs to be able to work together in a respectful manner.
Handling a Slacker
In any job, there are the slackers who don’t want to do the work they are being paid to do. This becomes especially apparent when they are forced to work with other people on a project. It can be difficult to pinpoint the people who aren’t pulling their weight unless people step up. However, when you do learn of a problem, you need to handle the situation appropriately.
First, if the job isn’t done, everyone on the team is responsible. End of story. If there is a problem along the way and no one came to you, they are still in charge of turning in a completed end project. If you aren’t aware of a problem until it’s too late, you can’t help them.
If someone does come up to you to express a problem with a member of their team, take the appropriate action. Talk to the person who isn’t contributing. Many times, people won’t contribute if their peers tell them to do something. Hearing the work given to them by an authority figure may cause them to do the job. If they still don’t do the work on time, you may have to hand down consequences.
The cycle of a Team
When you put a team together, there is a life cycle of that team. These are the five steps of the cycle of a team.
As the first steps suggest, the first step consists of forming a team. The formation of the team can be random in some cases, but, a majority of the time, it will require a good amount of thought. You need to consider who works well together and who has skills that complement each other.
Once a team is formed, it’s time to get down to business. Everyone will start brainstorming on how to get the job done. Since there are multiple people, there may be a number of different ideas. The different ideas make this the most likely time for conflict. This is especially true if there are multiple people with leadership qualities in the group.
Once people present different ideas in the group, the people who agree will typically join together, causing a division in the team.
At this stage of the lifecycle of a team, the members are invested. They identify as part of the group and realize they are an essential part of the success. This does not necessarily mean that everyone is pleased. However, at this stage, people understand they are part of the group whether they want to be or not.
After all members of the team come to an agreement (willingly or unwillingly), this is when people start to work toward their goal. They understand their role and how to move forward. This is when people are working the hardest.
After the task is complete, it’s time for the group to go their separate ways and work on their next task.
Essential Team Dynamics in the Workplace
Every team should rely on specific tools to help them work successfully. When the team has mastered these tools, they will not have any problems turning in a final project that will please the boss and help move them forward in their current position or their next position. Here are just some of the things that can help produce amazing final results.
One of the most important parts of a successful team is communication. The team needs to be able to speak to each other in order to ask each other questions, talk about progress, and advise other team members of any problems.
It’s a good idea to establish a line of communication right away. Make sure at the first meeting of your group that everyone shares phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Be sure to save the information in your phone right then so you don’t lose it. Don’t be afraid to use this contact information.
If you have something you need to share with the group, don’t be too shy to do so.
You should also establish regular meetings to keep each other updated. Have clear explanations of what you want to talk about during each meeting and what should be done at that point. During these meetings, people should bring their progress with them so people in the group can give constructive criticism.
Many times, people prefer to work on their own. This way, they don’t have to worry about someone dropping the ball. As a member of a team, you have to put trust into your other team members. Allow them to work and try not to breathe down their necks the entire time.
If people feel like they aren’t trusted in the group, it can cause them to back away.
It can be hard to trust people if they don’t show you what you want to see. Don’t start to distrust people until they meet specific deadlines or meetings. At that point, it’s appropriate to start looking for a new way to do things.
Division of Work
When you work with a team, everyone has to have a job. In some cases, your boss may assign the work for you. More often, you will have to divvy up the work yourself. Unfortunately, not all of the work is equal. Some jobs are more difficult or more time-consuming than others. This can make it difficult to assign tasks.
Depending on the group, some people will fight over the most strenuous tasks or the easiest tasks. Whenever people are arguing overwork, you need to determine a way to solve the problem. Try taking turns being responsible for the desirable tasks, flipping a coin, or letting the other people in the group vote.
Create a Sense of Urgency
On occasion, people can use team projects as an excuse to slack off a bit. As a team, you want to work hard to show what you can do. To do this, create a sense of competition among other teams working on similar projects. You also want to explain that the quicker you get things done, the better you will look to your superiors.
Methods of Managing Conflicts Between Team Members
Conflict in a group is almost inevitable. You won’t experience it with every team, but it will happen. It’s important to be prepared when you do come across the conflict. Start by understanding that there will be a conflict to handle. Then, you need to have a plan for who to handle it when it does happen.
Teach Employees to Resolve Conflict Independently
The Bible tells us that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. However, if you teach a man to fish, they will eat for life. Consider conflict resolution like feeding your team. If you handle it for them, you’ll have to handle it for them every single time. However, if you teach them how to handle it themselves, they’ll be able to handle the problems themselves without interrupting you. They may even be able to utilize those tools in the future.
Attempt to teach people how to properly handle disagreements in the workplace. You may want to take an hour out of everyone’s day for a meeting, but there are other ways. You may decide to send out helpful e-mails with tips or put posters up in the room. You may even decide to make it a small part of training when people first come on board.
Part of teaching how to handle conflict should clarify what is not appropriate. Explain your policy clearly to avoid any confusion. When something happens, you should be able to clearly point out in your internal literature why you made the decision you made after the conflict.
Avoid Replacing People
When a team is in place, they are working on their projects from the moment they come together. While working together, they talk about their ideas and develop a game plan. If a conflict exists, it can be tempting to just switch out one of the people on the team with someone on another team. However, this is not the best idea.
Many times, a team is organized due to specific skills and knowledge. When you take a person out of the team, you are removing what they brought to the team. Even if it is random, removing the person from the team will wast a lot of time and man-hours (money). The new team member will have to get caught up. The old team member would have been paid for hours of work that you won’t be able to utilize properly. You also shouldn’t have to waste your time during the day dealing with a fight between adults. You have better things to do than replace people. It’s a waste of money for the company.
In order to resolve a conflict, you need to be able to understand the information behind the conflict. Talk to both parties and ask for as many details as possible. Keep the details pertinent to the actual conflict if possible. Sometimes, the conflict was simply a miscommunication.
Having both parties express themselves may clarify that they are actually on the same side.
If you talk to both sides and both people present different facts, it could be time to bring in other people who were present during the conflict. This should be avoided unless you truly don’t know what happened. If you can avoid bringing any additional people into the conflict, that’s better.
Recognize When Conflict Goes Too Far
When emotions get high, things can get out of control. In some cases, people can act inappropriately. This always needs to be stopped, but it’s especially important for conflicts to be stopped before they reach that point at the workplace. We all have that one coworker that we don’t necessarily like, but that doesn’t mean that we have the authority to scream at them or get physical in any situation, but especially at work. Everyone is expected to maintain a certain level of professionalism in the workplace no matter the situation.
When situations do go too far, some people in charge may still try to resolve it normally and dismiss any extremely bad behavior. This will only encourage other employees to act the same in the future. There are certain times when it’s necessary to pass the responsibility on to someone a little more qualified. Those times are when it causes a major disruption in the workplace or if the conflict turns violent. At that point, it may be necessary to call the police or another source of help. Do not try to handle these situations on your own.
Handling Slackers on Your Team
Unfortunately, there are times when someone in the team doesn’t work as hard as other people. This can be difficult to go through. When one person doesn’t do their work, it can cause the entire project to be turned in late. Otherwise, it can create extra work for other people. When you find yourself in this situation, it can make you want to act inappropriately. Here are some tips on handling those problems.
1. Talk to the offending party privately
There are a number of reasons why someone might not be completing their responsibilities. Talk to them to see what you can do to help them do what they need to do. Explain that despite whatever might be going on, it’s important to find a way to turn in their work on time. Ask them directly if there are any problems with completing the work in the future so that you can divide the workload differently if necessary.
2. Talk to your supervisor
If someone isn’t doing their work over and over again, someone in the team needs to talk to a supervisor so that they are aware of the problem. Your company needs the project completed at a certain time, and it needs to maintain certain standards. If your team might not be able to accomplish this because of one person, your supervisor needs to know this so that the work can be done.
3. Get the work done
Someone needs to do the work. Period. If someone isn’t stepping up, that doesn’t mean that you can simply turn in an incomplete project. Someone needs to step up. Try suggesting everyone else come together for an additional couple of hours to get it done on time.
Whether you like it or not, you need to work with people in the workplace. Whether you are in charge of managing the team or a part of the team, it’s essential to be able to produce an excellent finished product. When you know how to handle interoffice relations, it can teach you how to work with people in a variety of environments, professionally and personally. You will be able to interview better, have better social interactions, and take yourself to the next level in your life.