Tips and Tricks

July 20, 2017 By Jen Mathews

Who’s On Your Team? Hint: More People Than You’d Think

July 20, 2017

By Jen Mathews

Read More from Jen Mathews

July 20, 2017

Who’s On Your Team? Hint: More People Than You’d Think

By Jen Mathews
Senior Public Relations Manager

Teamwork is a fact of everyone’s professional life, one that can’t be avoided. Humans on teams are like bees, says the director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory, Alex Pentland. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Pentland says communication is the key to a hyper-effective team of worker bees: when teams of humans are communicating at their best, they are buzzing together on great teams to do great work. “How we communicate turns out to be the most important predictor of team success, and as important as all other factors combined, including intelligence, personality, skill, and content of discussions,” Petland writes.

So we hate to break it to you, but your winning personality and endless talent will only get your so far. It’s vital to know who’s on your team and how to communicate with them in the most effective ways possible. In our recent survey on teamwork, we found that 30 percent of people have multiple definitions of their “team” – which is a sign of how matrixed and complex today’s working world can be.

So Who Is On Your Team?

To understand how to communicate effectively and be the best worker bee you can “be(e)”, you need to first understand who you should consider a teammate. Write down the people who jump into your mind when considering these questions to see exactly how vast your team really is.

  • Who are you required to work with? Think outside your department. Who’s in charge? Who are the decision makers?
  • Who are you accountable to? Are they clients, customers? Or someone internally?
  • Who is accountable to you? Do you work with vendors, or direct reports?
  • Who makes you excel and push yourself? Who’s your best competition? Who are you always learning from?
  • Who do you seek advice from? Who are your cheerleaders, your reviewers?

With your extended team list written down, you have a more complete picture of who’s on your team. These are the people you should actively work on communication with.

Now that you know who you need to work with, next follow these guidelines to help keep your extended team buzzing:

More Communication is Key.

Teamwork isn’t teamwork unless you are collaborating with others. Our survey found that only 10 percent of respondents say they would prefer to communicate less often, so meet more to get more done. Focus on regular communication with your team to foster long-term effectiveness. These meetings can be as simple as popping over to a team member’s desk to chat, or more formal scheduled reoccurring meetings.

Use a tool they prefer.

Different people prefer different types of communication, so don’t be afraid to ask each person, or the group, how they want to communicate. Chat, email, voice calls, screen sharingvideo conferencing, and in-person meet-ups offer variety of options. Understanding everyone’s preferences can be key to moving teams forward. Be careful of texting – 30% of workers say they would eliminate as an option for their teams.

Think outside the team for ideas and inspiration.

You want to be sure you’re not operating in a silo. Different teams around you – whether it’s your peers or other coworkers – may have some tactics to share. Pentland says, “The best teams periodically connect with many different outside sources and bring what they learn back to the team.”