11 Tips on How to Work Well with Others. By Angela Pau.
1. Establish clear goals and ground rules
Set well defined project goals when working in a team. It is important that every member of the team is clear on what you would like to achieve as a team and how they will know if the team has succeeded. Also as a team it is important to set ground rules on how you are going to work together. What are the timelines of this project? How often will you meet? Which roles will each of you take? What is the best method to maintain communication?
2. Distribute workload fairly and track progress
It is important that the workload for a team project be distributed fairly among each member of the team. Some tasks will take longer than others and some tasks will be more complicated. Keep a record of who is doing what, the deadline for each task and do a check in during meetings to discuss progress. This will help the team stay on track to meet project timelines. It will also alert the team if timelines are off and need to be readjusted.
3. Know your strengths
Be aware of what you offer the team. The best teams are those that bring people with different strengths together. You can’t do everything yourself in a project so pay attention to your teammates’ strengths. As a team think about how can you leverage each other’s strengths to reach your project goals.
4. Be aware of your teammate’s work & communication styles
People differ in the way they work and how they work. Nowadays, with people from different generations working together there may be differing expectations. Get to know your teammate’s work styles and be open about yours. You will also need to be able to tailor your communication style based on each teammate’s personality. Always be respectful. If you make your teammate feel defensive, they will not hear what you are trying to communicate and this will have a negative effect on your project. Honesty is a good, but be tactful in the way you give feedback
5. Provide constructive feedback
It is ok to disagree with your teammates about their ideas or the direction they want to take the project. But emphasizing the negative (i.e. “that won’t work”) does not help your team move forward. Acknowledge your teammate’s input and be clear on what your concerns are. Then propose an alternate solution. Don’t immediately jump to saying ‘no’. Try using terms like “yes and…” that was discussed during the theatre sports activity during orientation.
6. Give credit
When individuals feel valued, they are more motivated. If someone has a good idea or did something above and beyond, acknowledge it. This is true not just within your team, but also when discussing your team’s work with other stakeholders in your project.
7. Take responsibility for your mistakes and do not play the blame game.
Be honest if you are responsible for something that goes wrong. This goes a long way in not jeopardizing the trust your teammates place in you, especially if your mistake will cause more problems later, if you try to hide it. Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t blame other people when things don’t go well during your project. This can alienate your teammates. In the end, you are all trying to reach the same goals and playing the blame game when something fails or goes wrong is counterproductive. Focus on coming up with solutions to move the project forward.
8. Be respectful
Respect can be defined as “due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others.” This can be demonstrated in many ways. Don’t interrupt your teammate when they are talking. You may be eager to share your ideas, but give your teammate space to share theirs too. Be aware of your communication style, especially when you are under stress. Watch your nonverbal communication (i.e. body language, tone of voice). The way you deliver a message speaks louder than the words that come out of your mouth. Sarcastic, derogatory, hurtful or insulting remarks are inappropriate. Also, being on time is a sign of respect. If you are going to be late let your teammates know so they don’t feel like you don’t respect their time.
9. Keep an open mind and be flexible
It is common to run into issues during a project and your team from time to time may have to go in a different direction with the project. Don’t get hung up on the bumps you face. Instead be adaptable in changing directions and coming up with alternative solutions. Keep an open mind to your teammates’ ideas for solutions. There is often more than one way to reach your goals.
10. Meet your deadlines and keep your commitments
In order for a team to succeed, you must be able to rely on each other to meet your deadlines and commitments. If you can’t meet a deadline or commitment, let your teammates know. It will be obvious to them when you can’t deliver on your promises anyways. Provide them with a new deadline. Also respond to your teammates’ messages in a reasonable amount of time. They may be relying on your answer or feedback to move their commitments forward.
11. Give people the benefit of the doubt
Conflicts can arise in team projects. Think about the other person’s intention. Sometimes the perceptions of another person’s behavior or communication can be different from what they intended. Don’t make assumptions and whenever possible verify facts. Don’t assume the worst in people’s intentions. If possible, pull them aside and have a one-to-one conversation to clear up any misunderstandings.