Regular viewers of Lord Sugar and his devoted apprentices will know that team working skills are essential. Working as a team to make money and build a business is tough. When different personalities, tastes and methods of working come together it can either be a joy or a recipe for disaster. In many situations, at the end of the day someone is going to get fired.
At school and university we were told that group work was a good ‘learning experience’ and that we would ‘develop essential skills’ that we could use ‘in the real world.’ And it would appear that those teachers weren’t lying – the business world is all about working in teams and drawing upon the skills of individuals to perform a task efficiently. These teamwork rules are particularly relevant to startups as being able to function in a proficient and professional manner will make you stand out from the crowd and might secure you that high paying work or funding opportunity.
So what skills does your startup need to focus on to ensure you work together like a well-oiled machine? It’s time for Team Building 101.
1. Communication and learning how to listen
We have all been at that dinner party where the loud guy on the end dominates all of the conversation. It’s just ‘Me, me, me, me, me.’ without any consideration for the opinions or interests of other people and at some point everyone just stops listening. The same often applies in the business world and it makes for a very frustrating work place.
Keeping communication channels open for all members of your startup is vital for ensuring everyone feels like they’re part of the team. You’re choosing to work together for a reason and you should value the opinions and ideas of everyone involved in your business.
In meetings this may require bringing out the ‘Speaking Stick’ (have stick, can speak) or setting time limits for when people are allowed to present their ideas and then when others can provide feedback. It also goes down to the basics – responding to emails from your work mates and not dismissing their ideas and comments.
Of course, there are bound to be moments of conflict. Perhaps Tom and Joe just can’t agree on a colour scheme for the new website or Samantha is getting really sick of Jon leaving his dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Whatever it is, an open and honest discussion is the best solution. Communication is a two way road, people. Let’s talk it through and we’ll find a compromise.
2. Trust your fellow teammates
As startups tend to be relatively small businesses, it is critical that you can rely on your fellow teammates. Trusting your co-workers’ talents and ability to do their jobs properly (and them trusting you to do yours) is vital in maintaining efficiency, creativity and sanity in the workplace.
Remember that you have chosen to work with your teammates for a reason – everyone is bringing their own special set of knowledge, skills and contacts to their job. When your various powers combine you can achieve anything.
3. Be organised
Organisation in a business doesn’t just mean having pretty folders with clear labels (although that is always nice). You must also consider the structure of your business, how you function on a daily basis and your methods of recording. Being organised also includes:
Have set roles and responsibilities
Setting roles and responsibilities for each member of your team will help keep your business running smoothly. Deciding who can make final decisions, who is in charge of finances, and who ensures the tea bags are fully stocked will make your work life far more efficient. Everyone will understand what their role is and jobs won’t be forgotten or completed by multiple people unnecessarily.
Set clear goals
Have regular discussions with your co-workers to make sure you’re all working towards the same goal. Everyone should then know what their tasks are in order for the business to achieve its aims.
Create internal procedures
While manuals and procedures for everyday tasks such as ‘How to invoice clients’ and ‘How to save files so that everyone can access them’ may seem mundane and boring, they can and will save you a lot of time in the future.
Stick to timelines
There’s nothing worse than not delivering projects on time to your clients – make sure everyone is working to the same schedule by using project management apps or tools such as Asana, Pivotal Tracker and Basecamp. These apps allow you to set tasks to be performed by members of your team, completion dates and send files to clients. Very, very useful.
4. Keep things creative
No matter what sort of business you run, ensuring work remains interesting will ensure everyone in the team is energised and excited about coming to the office every day. How you do this is up to you, but attending workshops, networking events, having internal brainstorming sessions and listening to the ideas of your workmates will help keep things moving forward.
5. Take time out
Team bonding sessions outside of the office are one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. A team that drinks together, stays together. Ok, maybe we’re just looking for an excuse for a cheeky pint or two, but getting along with your workmates is very important to maintaining a happy office space. Getting to know each other outside of the walls of the office can provide you with new perspectives on how people think and the values they’re bringing to their work.
Organising team building days are also a great way to build up trust within the team and are a great excuse to get out of the office for the day. Try rock climbing or a cooking class to test whether or not you really can work together well!
A happy workplace is a productive workplace and developing your teamwork skills will ensure that your startup succeeds in the tough world of business.