7 Highly Effective Group Work Strategies

Whatever your working environment, good teamwork is vital to ensure that the job gets done efficiently, quickly, and without too many bumps along the way. While there’s no such thing as the perfect working group, there is a formula geared towards creating one that can tackle obstacles together and implement the right solutions at the right time. This requires assembling a group of people with differing points of view, talents, and strengths, who can work together to accomplish the task at hand.

Business consultant and author of ‘The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization,’ Douglas K Smith, wrote that, “A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”

At Avansas, we’ve been studying just what it is that makes a team as effective as possible. If you’re trying to assemble the right people for a particular job, we’ve got some insights into the characteristics of an efficient working group.

The first step to effective group work strategies is asking: What’s the point of a team?
No one is an island, and while a degree of self-reliance is a laudable characteristic in any individual, the ability to work as part of a team is more likely to lead to bigger business successes.
A clear purpose is vital to any team. Without it, a group is likely to focus on tangents and the point of the project can play second fiddle to other considerations. In their book, ‘Leadership in Teams: A Functional Approach to Understanding Leadership Structures and Processes,’ authors Frederick P. Morgeson, D. Scott DeRue, and Elizabeth P. Karam write that, “The leadership function is to define the team’s mission. This involves determining and communicating the organisation’s performance expectations for the team in such a way that they are broken down into tangible, comprehensible pieces.”

In short, this means that everyone needs to be ‘singing from the same hymn sheet.’ With the purpose clearly defined, the group will disregard any diversions and focus on working towards the end result.

Can we talk?

Research by the tech-research and consulting company, Gartner, has found that a whopping 70% of any company’s mistakes can be traced back to poor communication. A working group, in effect, is a company in microcosm. To ensure that the team tackles any hurdles in the best way possible, clear, open, and honest communication is paramount.
This means the setting aside of other agendas, the ability to listen and consider other points of view, and to engage with other members of the group, clearly and considerately. In many respects, this requires a degree of selflessness from each person in the group. They are there to work together which, inevitably, will mean compromise and a level of emotional intelligence in addition to their working talents and skills. True, effective teamwork requires each individual to be aware that they are all dependent on each other.
What are we doing?

An effective working group will realise the importance of looking at the task from every available aspect. This may mean that they implement different approaches before deciding which is the most appropriate.

However, as part of that process, there will be some failures and the group may have to go ‘back to the drawing board’ on more than one occasion. A well-balanced group will support each attempt and, rather than seeing each unsuccessful attempt as a setback, use it as a learning exercise through which to find the right formula to get the job done.
Albert Einstein wrote that “failure is success in progress.” To an effective working group, ‘failure’ is a shared experience that highlights factors that might not otherwise have been considered.

What am I doing?

While a team works as a unit, it is only as effective as the sum of its parts. To ensure that the goal is tackled from every available direction, each member must have a defined role. This ensures that everyone can contribute from a specific point of view and helps to mitigate any arguments over aspects of the job that are unimportant.
In addition, with each member having a clear focus, the bigger picture can be broken down into bite-sized chunks, making even the most daunting of projects seem much less intimidating. On top of that, with roles properly defined, there’s less room for the finer points and details to be overlooked.

How am I doing?

As the project progresses, there is the likelihood that members of the working group will evaluate each other, either in the form of constructive criticism or praise. This requires everyone to be open and receptive to both positive and negative evaluations by the other team members.
However, what is equally important is that team members are open to the idea of self-assessment. The psychologist and philosopher, John Dewey, said that, “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” A working group that reviews itself as a unit and as individuals will learn which parts of the goal need the most attention and be able to determine if any members of the group need help in carrying out their roles and specific aims.

Can we work together?

When setting up a team, it’s important to understand the difference between communication and collaboration. Anthony Bradley, Group Vice President of Gartner believes there are some distinct contrasts between the two. He writes that communication is, “The exchange of information to achieve a better understanding,” while collaboration is best defined as, “The exchange of information, and things, to advance the state of a collaborative product.” This helps to clarify the working process. An effective working group will communicate with each other to ensure that everyone understands what they are trying to do and the part they play in that process. As the project unfolds, it may be that individuals find that ‘teaming up’ with others within the team might be a more resourceful way of moving closer towards the final goal.

Do we have what we need?

Aside from the required skills, talents, and characteristics required to create effective group work strategies within the office, the team will need the right tools for the job.
At Avansas, we supply individuals and businesses, large and small, with all the equipment, accessories, and facilities they need to approach projects successfully. Just as your team won’t leave any detail overlooked, neither do we. From paper and ink supplies to presentation boards and wrist rests, give your team every possible chance to complete their task as quickly and as efficiently as possible.



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