From time to time, a lone teleworker finds herself working with a team. This could be at the request of the client, or simply because a certain project demands it. In these cases, a strong team dynamic is needed to make the project a success. The ideal team would be highly skilled, efficient, and have complementary working styles. But what are the odds of that? Team members might even have contradictory work processes. At the worst, you might be the only one who is meeting deadlines and sticking to your assigned tasks. What do you do to encourage the same or better efficiency in the other members of your team?
Spend some time discussing the tools and process. Before you get to work, be sure to lay out the process as well as the tools that you will be using. This sets up everyone’s expectations from the outset. Without this discussion, your team might have different ideas about how to tackle the collaborative process.
Illustrate the benefits. What could happen if everyone finished their work on time, or even earlier? While there are obvious benefits such as client satisfaction, this isn’t motivation enough for some people. You should point out how finishing a job early benefits team members. Will you be able to take a few days off? Will everyone get paid earlier? Is there an early completion bonus?
Always explain the “why.” Some members might disregard the tools or process you’ve recommended. Although they may just be more comfortable with their own system, it might be at odds with the way the rest of the team is working.
For example, a designer I work with didn’t use the Google (s goog) Group I set up for the team. He sent e-mails to individual members, even if the content of the message affected everyone. It wasn’t because he was hardheaded, but rather that he’d never used it before and didn’t see the reasoning behind it. After I showed him a tutorial and explained that the Google Group was for transparency, he got on board.
Everything has to be justified — from your collaboration tools to the division of labor. This is a good way for you to ensure that there are no superfluous tools or steps.
Public accountability. Being publicly accountable for your goals makes it easier for you to achieve them. If you and the members of your team announce your daily or weekly goals to one another, this makes all of you feel more motivated. By sharing this way, each member commits to specific tasks. This makes it easier to tell which members are really working and which ones are merely talking about it.
Accountability can be made even easier with the use of project management and collaboration software. We’ve covered several of these here at WWD. Alternatively, you can use an internal project milestone sheet.
Encouraging increased productivity within a team doesn’t have to be difficult. By establishing expectations, justifying the process, and maintaining individual accountability, you might be surprised at how efficient your team can be.
Have you ever found difficulty working within a team? What do you do when the other members aren’t as productive as they should be?