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How does teamwork management work?

You gathered the best talents in the company. The first big project together is challenging, but feasible. Everybody is full of energy and enthusiasm. But a few weeks in, not a single milestone has been reached, the schedule is falling behind, the pressure is mounting, the sentiment is shifting … A good teamwork management setup is an absolute must before you start a project.

A project lives and dies by how well the team works together.

In the words of basketball legend Michael Jordan:

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.

So the big question is: How does teamwork management work? Let’s go through it step by step.

Table of Contents

Teamwork Definition

The word team originally referred to a couple of oxen that acted as draught animals of carts. If a single ox did not have the pulling force, a “team of oxen” was harnessed. Sometime later, the concept of the team found its way into team sports before it was also integrated into the world of work.

So what is teamwork management? Teamwork management can be seen as organising the joint efforts to advance something that the individual can no longer achieve.

Advantages of Teamwork 

More can be achieved together, but why does teamwork really play such an important role in the modern world of work?

5 good reasons for collaborative work:

  • Project-based work. Projects with narrow time frames are becoming more common and can only be finished by an organized team.
  • Performance. Teamwork strengthens the personal responsibility, self-organization, and coordination of employees.
  • Synergies. Synergies at work are increased and involvement is enhanced.
  • Higher Motivation. Employees have higher motivation through their participation in decision-making processes.
  • Personal needs. Employees desire to exchange with colleagues.

Disadvantages of Teamwork

Teamwork is inexorably on the rise. For some time now, more than half of all Fortune 500 companies have organized 80 percent of their employees into teams. However, the risks of teamwork should not be overlooked.

5 reasons against teamwork:

  • Time expenditure. The need for ongoing coordination and consultation is high.
  • Average instead of excellence. Willingness to compromise and need for harmony can promote the “lowest common denominator”.
  • Less freedom. Individualists can only develop to a limited extent, which increases individual passivity.
  • Difficulties in adjusting. The paradigm shift from being a recipient of orders to being a self-responsible team member can be difficult for both employees and managers.
  • The Ringelmann Effect. There is a tendency to make less effort in a group than when working alone. French agricultural engineer Ringelmann discovered that as more and more people are added to a group, the group often becomes increasingly inefficient. You can read more about the Ringelmann effect on Wikipedia.

Teamwork without appropriate frameworks can therefore quickly lead to frustration and disinterest.

What makes for good teamwork management?

Good teamwork management comprises four elementary factors:

Relationships: How does a team become a team?

A pronounced team spirit can give the company important advantages over its competitors and on the job market. It has been proven that it is easier to retain efficient employees than to recruit new talents.

Even simple measures can have a great influence. An example of this would be if team members also support each other in private matters, such as when moving to a new house, and are given time off from work to do so. A second example is classic teambuilding measures in preparation for large projects. For this purpose, several consecutive days should be planned, during which the common tasks and goals are defined. Trivial but proven to be helpful is also to organize and promote meals together in the team.

Guidelines: What are the characteristics of successful communication in a team?

Successful cooperation requires systematic communication. Work discussions between superiors and employees are replaced by team meetings. Studies have shown that one to two hours per week is a good benchmark.

In doing so, four objectives should be pursued:

  •  The collective view of tasks and problems
  •  Developed ideas should make sense for the team and the individual
  •  Forming the will to implement the ideas developed
  •  The meeting should be efficient and conflict-free

Successful communication in a team is characterized by open and uncomplicated conversations with each other. Everyone can express his or her opinion. Feedback rules are followed. Hard on the subject and appreciative of the person. Feelings and emotions should always be expressed in the first form. Generalizations must be avoided. Everybody shows a willingness to listen.

Functional roles and tasks: How to create a clear task distribution within the team?

Task distribution is probably one of the trickiest tasks in managing teamwork.

A successful implementation generally requires three steps:

  • Clear communication. The team leader must clearly communicate the goal, timeframe, and expectations of each team member.

  • Highlighting of consequences. Positive and negative consequences should be introduced. Rewards may include attendance of professional events or other representative tasks. Negative consequences could be, for example, addressing the team member and explaining the effects of the lack of performance.

  • Ongoing discussions. The manager should base his argumentation on concrete examples and facts, in which case feedback is usually considered fair.

Digital tools can also be very helpful in the planning of tasks and workflows. There are countless solutions on the market. CELUM WorkRooms, for example, focuses on combining process, task and file management in one place and thus supporting teams that have to work collaboratively with a wide range of content.

Objectives: How can collaborative work goals be formulated?

Objectives must be clearly formulated, be agreed upon, be connectable at all hierarchical levels and also be meaningful for the organization itself.

The “Objectives and Key Results” management system, or OKRs for short, is a good way to implement these requirements. Originally developed by Andy Grove at Intel, objectives are broken down into:

Objectives = What is to be achieved?
Key Result = How do we reach the goal and how can we measure it?

Each key result must be operationalizable via a number. The OKRs are redefined on a quarterly basis, first at the company level, then each part of the company derives its goals from this and, finally, the individual teams determine their OKRs.

Conclusion about Teamwork Management

Collaborative work is a prerequisite for corporate success. For successful cooperation, relationships must be established among team members, clear guidelines, distribution of tasks and objectives are needed.

Tools can also provide very good support in this, for example, CELUM WorkRooms helps to manage responsibilities and tasks in a clear and transparent manner.

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