Sorry, there is no secret . . . or magic bullet. But wait! There is good news. Teamwork is a choice, not a virtue, making it possible to achieve. In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni famously says that the ultimate competitive advantage in business is teamwork. Yet as organizations have become more global, teams have grown more dispersed, dynamic and diverse. Collaboration has become more complex. But by choosing to incorporate teamwork into your culture, you can apply the focus, discipline and accountability that make for great teamwork.
The essential building blocks of teamwork
In his book Lencioni notes that an absence of trust is the foundation for a dysfunctional team. In order to get to trust, team leaders need to foster a common identity. One that shirks “us versus them” thinking and replaces it with an atmosphere of encouragement, acceptance and constructive dialogue.
Leaders must also be genuine. They should be able to ask for help and admit to mistakes. This doesn’t mean acceptance of sloppy work. When leaders admit to mistakes, it allows the entire team to admit to them as well. In this way, mistakes are accepted as part of the process. Rather than covering them up or pointing fingers, people are able to admit mistakes and fix them.
Teams that include remote partners are particularly vulnerable to these issues. Time zone and cultural differences, language barriers and simple lack of proximity can all get in the way of trust and communication.
At Coherent Solutions, we combat these all-too-common afflictions with our own strategy for top performing teams (see below).
A foundation of transparency
In our model, clients have full access to the entire offshore team, not just leaders or a spokesperson. Team members speak for themselves and directly address issues related to their work.
Hours at Coherent’s software development center in Minsk, Belarus, are from 10 AM to 7 PM. This provides up to four hours a day of overlap time with the states. Applying Agile project management, we rely on email, live chat, and Skype to have daily communication between onshore and offshore teams to review progress, issues, and next steps.
Committed to schedules, budgets and each other
Our teams value the importance of delivering a project on time and on budget and never hesitate to put in whatever time and effort necessary to ensure a project’s success.
Accountability on a daily/weekly basis
By constantly reviewing the project and its progress, team members are always being held to account. Progress and issues are not hidden, they are discussed and addressed.
In the end, our clients don’t hire us to provide great teamwork. They hire us to create great software that makes money, saves money, or advances their business. They want to know that a good product is our ultimate goal. Promoting good teamwork is our way of getting there.