Tips for Building Teamwork

By Linda Henman, Ph.D.

  1. Have a shared sense of purpose—a reason to be a team instead of a collection of individual contributors.
  2. Engage in shared leadership, but have a designated or appointed leader.
  3. Establish goals with a timeline for each, and agree about how to prioritize the goals.
  4. Establish areas of accountability, including expectations for notifying or consulting each other, when necessary.
  5. Clarify roles that are critical to the achievement of the team’s mission so that team members know exactly what the others expect.
  6. Before making important decisions, agree on the decision making method: authority, majority, minority, consensus, or unanimity.
  7. Push for full, relevant participation from each person.
  8. Clarify and talk about implicit and explicit team norms. (These cannot be imposed from outside the group).
  9. Encourage active, empathic listening, especially during conflict or heated debate.
  10. Embrace tension and realize it is both healthy and desirable.  Contention, however, is not productive. Engage in robust discussion and confront disagreements.

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