Success is impossible without communication and collaboration. While your business idea might begin in your head, in order to scale your company you’re going to need other people to help realize and execute your vision. But even if you’re still in the corporate world, working on your side hustle, teamwork is an essential skill.
Here are seven ways to get better at working with others.
1. Provide clear and constructive feedback.
Group working situations can be fraught, especially when it comes to deadline pressure. But to avoid fights that will only take time away from the task at hand, use this strategy when you come up against a conflict. It’s OK to disagree with someone’s take, but rather than only emphasizing the negative, bring an actionable solution to the table that helps move things forward. That way, the person isn’t just hearing, “I hate this and this is a terrible idea,” but “I’m concerned about this for X reason, what about this instead?
2. Give credit where credit is due.
If someone has a great idea, acknowledge it, not just within the team, but when you’re talking to supervisors or investors. It will make individuals feel valued and more invested in the outcome of the project. It could be something such as a hall of fame wall or an ongoing chat where team members give shout outs about a job well done. When people feel stressed and exhausted, being able to have a concrete memory of successes can help them keep going.
3. Own up to your mistakes.
If something goes wrong and it’s your fault, be honest about it. Nothing can be fixed unless you’re up front about what happened. While you might have an impulse to underplay it or sweep it under the rug — don’t. It will only cause more problems later. And don’t try to blame someone else. It’s not a good look and worse, it will make people less likely to help you.
4. Understand your strengths.
Before launching into a project with a new team, it’s important to take inventory of your and your teammate’s strengths and weaknesses. If you try to do everything and be all things to all people, you could burn out and end up alienating team members that just want to help achieve the same goal. And it’s not just about your particular skill set. It’s important to ask yourself, How do I think about work? Do you lead with facts and figures or a gut feeling? Are you a consensus builder or someone people look to when an executive decision needs to be made? Do you need more freeform time to come up with ideas, or are you more structured? Establishing these approaches early can avoid any surprises down the road.
5. Set a schedule and stick to it.
Emergencies can throw everything out of whack, so from the start establish as a team some ground rules, such as when, where and how long you’re meeting. It is easier to carve out time to devote all your energy to the project instead of being pulled in all sorts of directions. Figure out how people like to convene and talk things out. Are you fans of short daily meetings or a longer weekly or biweekly one? Would you rather do an email or chat update at the end of the day? Just make sure that no matter what you choose, you’re all on the same page.
6. Be realistic about your timetable.
It makes sense that you’d want to do everything that is asked of you, but if someone in the group asks for a deadline that isn’t achievable, say so, and ask for some leeway or help. While at first glance it might seem like they have unreasonable expectations, they may just not know about all the moving parts and how long things take to be completed.
7. Say thank you.
Kindergarten rules still apply. Gratitude goes a long way when you’re working in a potentially stressful situation. A baseline level of courtesy helps with communication, maintaining a positive attitude and building ties among teammates.
By: Nina Zipkin