New Year’s Resolution: Improve Your Teamwork

Posted by Kristin Arnold on January 1, 2009

Just when you get used to writing 2008 on checks, you have to retrain yourself.  So it is with work.  As soon as we get comfortable with “the new way of doing business,” we find ourselves having to change again.  Here are a few resolutions for improving your teamwork:

Come Prepared.  Whether you are working with a teammate, going to a meeting, or making a presentation, do your homework.  Know what motivates the people you meet, and establish reasonable objectives and a mutually beneficial agenda.  Right before you meet, take a breath and clear your head.

Be Gracious.  The best team players ask others for their opinions before offering their own.  They listen for meaning and ask for clarification.  They patiently clarify the issues and are willing to change or modify their views.  Pick one “gracious” trait you would like to improve and think about that as you take that breath before meetings.

Just Pay the Five Bucks.  When it comes to the sunshine-birthday-anniversary-funeral fund, ante up.  What goes around comes around, and someday you will have a birthday, too.

Have Fun.  Don’t forget that all work and no play makes teamwork dull.  Having fun means there is a balance between getting results and working with one another.  Go out to lunch, take a coffee break together, or stay after the team meeting for awhile.  You will be surprised how much you can learn from one another.

Avoid Meeting Mania.  Not everything has to be done in a team setting.  If you find your team doing work that would better be done by a single person or group, speak up.  For example, nothing is more painful than a team trying to draft a document.

Don’t be a Dilbert.  Most teams enjoy passing around the latest Dilbert cartoon.  We laugh because we see bits of the management “them” in Dilbert characters.  But watch out.  In many teams, especially self-directed teams, “them” is us.  You should worry if 1) you know all the characters and 2) someone starts posting cartoons in you cubicle.

Question:  Can you think of any other New Year’s resolutions to improve your team?

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