How to improve teamwork in times of Corona

Improving collaboration in a team is a challenge - admittedly not an easy one - but one that is worth taking on. As a project manager, in particular, one of the core tasks is to sustainably consolidate a sense of togetherness in the project team - from which the entire organization benefits.

It is the nature of project management that teamwork plays a special role. Projects are always unique in some way and they all come to an end after a few days, weeks, or even years. This means that teams have to be set up and dismissed over and over again. Especially at the beginning of the project, this can present the project manager with special challenges, as there are 1000 other more important things than worrying about good teamwork. Good project managers manage to combine the completion of upcoming tasks and team building. The after-work gathering is certainly an important element of team building, but everyday occurences such as brainstorming and the like can also contribute.

What makes good and successful teamwork?

A good team requires one thing above all: solidarity and teamwork. Knowledge, transparent communication, appropriate appreciation, and sufficient room for creativity are the foundation of successful teamwork. If employees are slowed down, they perform accordingly less, which affects the entire team.

At the latest due to the Corona crisis, teamwork has become more important, as teammates are often left to their own devices in the home office. Other team members are met virtually, business trips are replaced by calls, and the canteen meal at the best is converted into a digital lunch. But it is still important to support your team in everyday office life.

How can you contribute to the success of the team?

In the following article, I will look at how you as a manager can improve teamwork. Which tricks and tools you can use to strengthen the team culture and overcome barriers in teamwork.

Define structures and processes

Structures within the team provide orientation

Even “flat hierarchies” need clear rules: who has what authorities and whom can I turn to when making certain decisions? As a manager, you should make it clear who the right contact person is in which area of ​​responsibility.

A clear division of roles and responsibilities is important here. Team members often don't know who to turn to with questions or problems. Errors occur more quickly, decisions are "delayed" or the answers to questions in your team are unsatisfactory.

Process flows between departments create clarity

When processes between individual teams or departments do not work, it is often because the individual workflows are not coordinated with one another. The responsibility for mistakes is passed on to the other team. This creates conflicts that could be resolved through process optimization or process management.

Formulate common goals

The development and formulation of goals and visions strengthen the feeling of togetherness beyond team boundaries. Team goals should be formulated so that every member of the team knows what is expected of them. Motivation and enthusiasm arise from common ideas.

Promote equitable communication

Successful teamwork in a company requires successful communication. On the one hand, the work between the individual employees should be coordinated through good communication and, on the other hand, the strengths of each team member should be used.

It is always important to know who is responsible for which task and that, if possible, everyone is at the same level. The reduced communication with superiors and the team during remote work is a challenge that should not be underestimated. Access to relevant information for everyone involved is critical to success.

Transparency creates a perspective

Transparent communication is the starting point for improving teamwork over the long term. The keyword here is equality in all its facets instead of top-down management. Above all, you should listen. Take on the suggestions and ideas of your team and involve your employees in the distribution of tasks, but also the visions of the organization, so that the strengths of each team member are used. Everyone should have the same opportunity to express themselves.

Constructive criticism is appreciation

Constructive criticism is important for good communication. It is essential to note that personal criticism of team members has no place in corporate communication. Being criticized is not nice for anyone, but constructive criticism is an important part of conflict resolution within the team.

Team building for a more sense of unity

Team-building measures can help to ensure that teamwork functions smoothly and a team spirit develops. Why team building is an important aspect of the sense of togetherness is particularly clear from the 5 phase model according to Bruce Tuckman.

  • Forming - Coordinating behaviors:
    • Purposefully picking the team
    • Facilitating team to identify goals
    • Ensuring the team development of a shared mental model
  • Storming - Coaching behaviors:
    • Act as a resource person to the team
    • Develop mutual trust
    • Calm the work environment
  • Norming - Empowering behaviors:
    • Get feedback from staff
    • Allow for the transfer of leadership
    • Set aside time for planning and engaging the team
  • Performing - Supporting behaviors:
    • Allow for flexibility in team roles
    • Assist in the timing and selection of new members
    • Create future leadership opportunities
  • Adjourning - The resolution:
    The team's goal has been achieved. It is now being dissolved or divided into new teams.

Especially at times when many employees work from the home office and contact with colleagues is reduced, team building can promote solidarity. The aim is to set up a team of employees who complement each other in terms of their skills. So there are specialists for every area. To make the division of tasks clear, digital tools can be used to structure the tasks and deliverables.

Improved collaboration with digital tools

The use of digital solutions supports you in everyday work in the office as well as in the home office. These include online collaboration tools and various types of messenger and video conference tools. It is understood that we may have limited network possibilities in our home and do not want to give everyone an insight into our privacy. Nevertheless, encourage team members to set up an undisturbed corner and as often as possible turn on the camera during meetings and discussions. This can have a positive influence on team building and removes some anonymity. With collaboration tools, you stay structured and on top of progress, colleagues can access the latest data at any time and always know exactly what you are talking about.

All information in one cloud

Who does not know it: You are in a meeting with your team and want to go through the latest figures that you have previously emailed to your employees. Since this is not the only e-mail that landed in your colleagues' mailboxes that day, some are faced with the problem of finding it at all. This is where cloud services can be very helpful. Set up a good online filing system that is accessible to every team member if knowledge is required.

These solutions have many advantages. Data backup, reduced emails, elimination of forgotten emails and overlooked emails, changes being immediately available for everyone and everyone on your team always being up to date, are just a few of the advantages.

Conclusion: regularly address collaboration

Cooperation in a team is not improved by just a single point. Become aware of the areas in which you can improve teamwork. Digital tools are not a solution for all problems that arise in the company.

Good cooperation is mainly achieved through the regular application of the previous tips. Standards and structures should be reviewed from time to time. It is then decided whether the set rules are still relevant for your team or whether new team rules should be drawn up.

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