How to best manage a team: 8 rules for effective teamwork

The value of teamwork is both vastly underestimated and dramatically overstated. That people should be working in teams is taken for granted. Working in teams is constantly promoted, yet it is one of the most hated forms of working among employees.

The reason people hate teamwork is because neither managers nor team members know how to work effectively in teams. Unfortunately, great team management is a rare skill.

Do you want to know how to best manage a team?

Here are 8 rules for effective teamwork:

1. Should you be working in teams?

Ask yourselves if teamwork is the best approach to the problem at hand. Working in teams is not optimal for all types of projects or tasks – in some cases individuals should be working on their own. Teamwork is suitable when the value the team delivers is greater than the sum of its parts. If this is not the case, you should not be working in teams. In teams, you are supposed to leverage the fact that you are several people.

2. Make sure everyone knows who is on the team

You need to clearly define who is on the team and who is not. This might almost seem too obvious, but the truth is that even most executives cannot correctly identify who is on their team. If you don’t know who is on the team then you cannot possibly know what to expect from whom, let alone work well together. 

3. Define a team purpose

Every team needs a purpose. There must be a reason why you are working together in a team. This purpose should be shared by everyone on the team and the members should help define it. Partaking in shaping the common purpose gives each team member a sense of ownership, fuelling their motivation and their will to perform.

4. Set specific and explicit performance goals

You need to set specific and explicit performance goals that derive from, and are aligned with, the team’s common purpose. Otherwise you have no way of knowing whether or not the team has achieved what it set out to do. You need to set both team goals and individual goals. Remember, what gets measured gets done. If the goals are not specific and explicit, you are making it easier for team members to avoid accountability.

5. Team members with complementary skill sets

In great teams, members’ skills complement each other. If you need a specific set of skills for your team, everyone on the team does not need to possess all those skills. Remember, teams are supposed to leverage the strengths of the individual team members, and by doing so also overcome individual weaknesses.

6. Agreement on how the work gets done

There needs to be an agreement on how team members are expected to work. This concerns practicalities such as work schedules, expected deliverables and rules for decision-making.

 7. Provide favourable conditions

Facing challenges is inherent to teamwork. As a leader you need to rid your team of unnecessary hindrances and provide the best possible conditions for overcoming these challenges. You need to put structures in place that ensure effective and efficient teamwork. For teams, this typically means creating structures and processes for great communication and coordination.

8. Assign clear roles and responsibilites

There should be no confusion about where one person’s responsibility ends and another’s begin. If there are areas or situations in which you need greater flexibility, this should be clearly decided on. If your team members are flexible enough to cover for each other – that’s great. But don’t let that be an excuse for a poor assignment of roles and responsibilities

Make use of these 8 rules for effective teamwork and witness the improved performance of your team and the increased happiness of your team members.