If you run a business of any size, and have so much as a couple of people working for you, you are bound to have to spend a significant amount of your time figuring out the best ways in which to get your team members working together productively, without anyone stepping on anyone else’s toes.
Of course, this is always going to be a more pressing issue when it comes to larger companies, with more employees. But even on a micro scale, this issue can completely blindside and ruin the prospects of many optimistic start-ups who haven’t taken the time to address these issues.
When a team works together effectively, and productively, a business can achieve truly remarkable things. On the other hand, when your team – or teams – are constantly at loggerheads, and can’t get on the same wavelength, all the work that is achieved in a given period of time may be susceptible to being corrupted and overwritten in the ensuing chaos.
It doesn’t seem like an exaggeration to state that getting your team working together, without anyone stepping on anyone else’s toes, is one of the most essential things for any business leader to achieve.
So, here are some tips for making it happen.
Follow a certain methodology, philosophy, or process, that everyone can understand
There are a significant number of what might be called “productivity philosophies”, that apply differently to different job roles, in different industries.
Developers, for example, frequently subscribe to the “Agile” software development methodology, which includes the tracking of Agile metrics, and the use of various subsystems and techniques, such as Kanban, and Scrum.
The point of this methodology – and the components that make it up – is to create a system in which members of a team can work together collaboratively, and effectively, to get their targets met, and to maintain an optimal flow of work.
Of course, different industries, and different areas of business will potentially benefit from different methodologies. Nonetheless, if you are able to get everyone on your team – or teams – on the same page, in terms of the overall “system” and lexicon that they are subscribing to, all the better.
If, on the other hand, your team members are each “reading from a different hymn sheet”, and attempting to apply different systems at their own discretion, it is inevitable that there will be conflict and confusion.
Use tools and systems that allow you to coordinate effectively
Productivity methodologies and philosophies are one thing – but the specific tools that allow for work to be done according to those systems and philosophies, is no less important.
If your team fails to communicate properly, and frequently end up stepping on each other’s toes, part of the reason might be not so much that they are “reading off different hymn sheets”, but simply that the business infrastructure, and tools, that they’re working with, inevitably result in people working at cross purposes.
Sometimes, simply introducing a particular tool can radically change the entire landscape of your business. Trello, for example, is a digital form of the Kanban system, and allows your team to work via “boards” that display which tasks have yet to be tackled, which tasks are in progress, which tasks have been completed, and so on.
Unlike conventional Kanban boards, however, Trello allows you many options for specifically “locking” certain tasks and projects to certain people, and also includes various other features which might be useful – such as chat functionality, the ability to attach documents to “cards”, and so on.
A relatively new program, with comparative functionality (arguably in a more “streamlined” format), is Monday – a service that helps businesses to stay on top of various tasks, projects, and responsibilities that must be met by certain deadlines.
Aim for simplicity – avoid the temptation to overcomplicate
As a smart, savvy, entrepreneur – the temptation is ever present to try and “finesse” things in your favour, by creating complex systems and techniques that seem to account for all possible variables.
As is ever the case in business, however, simplicity rules the roost. Companies who needlessly complicate things – be they projects, or even incentive programs – inevitably cause confusion among their staff and team members, and ensure at the very least that there is a fairly high amount of chaos prevailing in the workplace.
If not everyone on your team understands how things are meant to be run, and how certain systems are supposed to operate, there is no realistic prospect that they will be able to work together harmoniously, without confusion and dispute.
On the other hand, adopting simple systems that everyone can wrap their heads around quickly, ensures that the greatest possible number of people are going to be “on the same page” at any given time.
Keep in mind, if you have any reservations about this, that “simple” doesn’t mean “easy”, or “unsophisticated”. Many of the most successful initiatives in business stem from simple methodologies and approaches, which team members are highly motivated to adhere to.
Set realistic workflow targets – focus on “small victories”, rather than being constantly “snowed under”
Every so often, a business will be plagued by an overseer, or executive, who insists on piling work upon his underlings, in such an overwhelming quantity that they will never be able to keep up.
Of course, it is important to ensure that any team is operating effectively, and is not slacking off. But, setting unrealistic workflow targets is not a good way of motivating your team to increase productivity. In fact, it is more likely to ensure that your teams remain in a constantly dysfunctional state, as they are never able to adequately resolve things.
This, in turn, creates a general culture of panic, hostility, and defensiveness – not exactly the kind of environment where high performance is the norm.
It may seem paradoxical, but by setting more “realistic” workflow targets, your team are likely to get significantly more done on a weekly, monthly, even daily basis.
Focus on “small victories”, instead of on ensuring that your team understand the importance of the never-ending grind.
Opt for “work sprints” followed by reviews, praise, and commendations for productivity. It’s a much better way of doing things.