7 Habits of Highly Effective Teams

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No matter what business or organization you are in, making sure that your team’s habits support efficiency and productivity is the key to success. Although the internal values of your business or organization may shape your team in its own unique way, there are a number of habits that we found work well across the board no matter what industry or business you are in.

Effective & Clear Communication

Clear communication is the key to efficiency not only within your team but also with your clients and customers. Being concise is a time-saver for all parties involved, however, conciseness should not interfere with the clarity and understanding or miscommunication of the task. Task assignment is an art that we are proud to say works extremely well within our company.

A common suggestion by some of the biggest entrepreneurs of all time (Elon Musk uses this at Tesla) is having an open-door policy. At Dunham, we find this method to be very helpful which helps save valuable time while streamlining some important decisions which are urgent and should not run down the chain of command.

A good communication strategy involves planning, organization and a proper schedule. It also incorporates both; team-wide and one-on-one communication. Some common practices of implementing this in your workplace include:

  • Monday morning stand-ups — Reviews from last week, focus on goals for this week
  • Weekly Wins newsletter — Send an email with company success every week
  • Bi-Weekly All Team Meetings — Check in on how everyone is feeling
  • Monthly One-on-Ones — Individual meetings to get feedback
  • Quarterly Meetings — Setting and reviewing quarterly objectives

Some companies may also implement proper communication training based on internal procedures or industry standards. There is no one-fit-all solution for this, but there are a large number of techniques and methodologies that may help improve your team’s communication.

Decision Making

Everyone Takes Initiative

This often begins with trust and ends with a feeling of support and safety. By empowering everyone within your organization to make their own decisions, you reduce the time it takes to deploy potentially crucial changes to your company that may reduce costs, eliminate urgent problems and help you sell more products or services.

Jeff Bezos strongly believes in this and has broken all decisions down into two main types:

Type 1: Almost impossible to reverse. Bezos calls them “one-way doors.” Examples of this include selling your company, quitting or firing etc. Once you make a Type 1 decision, there’s no going back.

Type 2: Easy to reverse. Bezos calls these decisions “two-way doors.” This could include offering a new service or introducing new pricing schemes. While Type 2 decisions might feel momentous, with a little time and effort (often a lot less than you think) they can be reversed.

Jeff Bezos makes sure that as many people as possible are able to make Type 2 decisions on their own, without his consent. He also adapts this same methodology and structure to the decision making down his chain of command. This allows even low-positioned managers to make their decisions without having to run it up to Amazon’s lengthy chain of command to department heads and chief officers. Jeff Bezos has often stated that this is one of the reasons behind Amazon’s tremendous success and ability to capture such large market shares across so many industries.

Toyota also has a similar methodology that it uses in its production system that before Tesla made them the most valuable carmaker in the world. If an employee in the production assembly line notices a defect, they have the permission to (and are encouraged to) right away stop the production line. This method along with the “Five Whys” has proven to save valuable time and material costs on outputting faulty cars by reducing the number of cars in the production that incorporate the aforementioned defect.

Knowledge Process

Knowledge Sharing/Repeatable Process

High-functioning and experienced individuals are usually capable of getting a job done on their own. While it’s great having team members that don’t need to ask questions, it is important that their knowledge is passed on efficiently to those who do.

Translating this knowledge into the documentation that is accessible to all new people that join the team is the key to fast and effective collaboration and a scalable hiring process. Some of these could include:

  • Create project templates with key elements that are similar for each project
  • Design themes and templates that use best practices which can be re-used for similar projects
  • Create storing and management procedures that allow every new employee to know where things should be stored

How you share knowledge and create a repeatable process within your organization will determine how easy it is to integrate a new workforce and collaborate dynamically. In the web development world, we are accustomed to using frameworks and templates that save us time on development while harnessing the power of best practices.

Refining your internal systems is an endless task, but it’s better to start sooner than later and reduce the frustration and miscommunication that it will cause if you fail to do so. Implementing these in our company has helped us improve our efficiency to unprecedented levels, and we are always looking for more opportunities to improve and refine these processes.

Motivating Through External Impact

We all strive to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Many companies have a mission statement or vision defined on their webpage, however, that is not enough. To stay motivated each team member must remember why they are doing what they are doing, beyond their pay or salary. The highest-ranked factor contributing to workplace happiness is actually not how much money you make or how much free time you have at work, but feeling connected to a purpose.

This was shown by a recent ‘Happiness Poll’, commissioned by Wrike, of 4,000 employees across the UK, Germany, France and the US. Respondents were asked what makes them happy at work, and how that impacts their productivity. Just over a third of UK respondents said their company’s mission and vision strongly resonated with them – suggesting there is plenty of room for improvement.

By ensuring that your team is focused around a higher purpose and posting that purpose everywhere you can, you will create a strong culture of motivation that will help your team get through those daunting tasks that even the most perfect of jobs will always entail.

A team collaborating

Specialization & Collaboration

Using proper collaboration software is of vital importance to reduce time wasted in your company. Did you know that according to a report from Mckinsey & Company, the average team member spends over a quarter of their day checking emails/messages? Not only that but nearly 20% of the day is spent chasing information or seeking someone to help with specific tasks.

This results in a lot of lost productivity time, which is why more companies are turning to cloud-based work collaboration software. At the Dunham Group we are harnessing the power of Microsoft Teams and Asana which has changed our world for the better.

There are also a number of techniques available to grow your productivity such as SCRUM. Having started in the world of tech product development, this powerful framework helps boost productivity exponentially and is now used by a number of industries such as:

  • Financial Services
  • Legal & Consultancy
  • Construction
  • Data Analytics
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Engineering
  • Food and Beverage
  • Hospitality
  • Travel & Tourism
  • Telecommunications
  • Government Agencies
  • Transportation
  • Medical Devices
  • Customer Support
  • Education
  • Insurance
  • Automotives
  • Manufacturing

The SCRUM framework is something that we live and breathe at the Dunham Group and it has helped us cut down our development time and deliver the satisfaction our clients deserve. We highly recommend you try it. You won’t regret it!

While it’s important that a company does not rest on a single person’s shoulders (considering the unpredictable nature of life that is simply unsafe), it is also important that employees do what they are best at. Task assignment should be based on individual workloads and experience. If a task may take someone 1 hour but another coworker can get it done in 20 minutes, it is better for them to do it if their schedule permits it.

It is important for this not to get in the way of learning, however. If you only assign the experts with the hard-to-do tasks then the new team members entering the position may never learn. The key is to ensure that you know what each team member’s strengths and passions are and to nurture them in this area allowing them to become a specialist in what they do best and want to do most. No one can be an expert in everything, but everyone can be an expert in at least a few things.

Innovation quote by Matt Ridley

Goals & Innovation

Setting clear goals and timelines keeps your team focused and on-track. Some companies (especially in the sales world) will put a large whiteboard in their “bullpen” that they use to set daily, weekly, and monthly sales goals. This creates an atmosphere of both knowledge and determination to achieve or surpass those goals.

Sometimes an incentive for reaching or surpassing goals can be a great motivator to get things done. It can also set a precedent for unprecedented efficiency. The power of motivation triggered by the incentive may drive your team to reach what seems an impossible time frame, and once they reach that goal their perception of what they can do will never be the same.

Roger Bannister proved this on May 6, 1954, by doing what was thought to be impossible – running a mile under 4 minutes. Once that record was broken, however, the world believed that this threshold was possible to surpass, and the next person beat the record only 46 days later thanks to the power of belief. You can harness this incredible effect in your team through setting goals and incentives.

A business that does not innovate dies. While there are many ways to encourage your employees to innovate, one of our favourite strategies is Google’s 20% rule which allows their employees to spend 20% of their time to work on side projects. In fact, Gmail, Google Maps, as well as Twitter, Slack, and Groupon all started as side projects implementing this very strategy.

Fun & Positivity

No matter how “well-oiled” your internal processes are and efficient your team is, your organization is still comprised of human beings. It is important to have a positive environment and to engage in various team-building events, retreats, or training and exercises.

Meeting together socially gives the team a chance to relax together without the boundaries of the work environment and to connect on a different level. You may find it effective to all go out to lunch occasionally, or have “casual Friday”. Some companies even do a weekly fitness class once a week to break the ice and improve trust within the team.

Conclusion

At the Dunham Group, we strongly believe in maintaining a good work-life balance and ensuring that culture and productivity work in parallel to move our organization forward. Over the years we have used and implemented these habits into our own work and we hope that these serve you and your organization as well. Good luck and stay efficient!

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