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Five essentials of team effectiveness

Written 01 February, 2018, 2 minutes to read

Team effectiveness relies on a few core principles – whether you work in-house with a fixed team, outsource tasks to freelancers, form specialist teams for every new project, or manage a group of remote workers. We’ve broken down the five key areas you need to nail to get the most out of every team member.

Capacity

Effective teams share the workload.

You need to know who has too much work, who can take on a little more, and who is close to absolute burnout. Tracking team capacity is crucial for project management and allocating resources where they’re most needed, but it’s also essential for your employees’ wellbeing – a regularly overstuffed workload screams “help”. Constantly check your team’s capacity to see who needs support, how to break up work, when to revisit project plans, and where to fit in ad hoc tasks.

Communication

Effective teams talk to each other.

Remote teams couldn’t even exist without efficient and useful communication. Work out what too much communication looks like for your team, and find an intelligent structure which lets members dip in and out according to their work rhythm without feeling left behind. At Timely, we use a combination of dedicated project channels in Slack, information pages in Basecamp and video calling with Zoom, and almost never send emails. We keep communication as lightweight and unobtrusive as possible, but are immediately available to unblock tasks, provide support and celebrate successes.

Priorities

Effective teams focus on the important stuff.

Do you really know what your team is actually working on? Regularly check in to ensure your team is working to your business priorities. Better still, track work automatically as a group so you don’t have to interrupt your colleagues. If you have a lead project, you shouldn’t be spending more time each week on second-tier priorities. Tracking how much time your team spends on billable and unbillable tasks is also useful, and often unearths expensive inefficiencies you need to address.

Accountability

Effective teams are responsible.

Having a single person leading on a particular task or project is a great example of this. It makes communication simpler, task management clearer and deliverability all the more important. Accountability is also great for our own sense of independent worth within the team: our contribution is visible, we actively shape success and we have authority over our own work. And it’s well established – micro-management sucks.

Process

Effective teams don’t waste energy.

There are a ton of important small tasks your business depends on, like creating timesheets, sending invoicing and managing accounts. It makes sense for your team to have a shared logical approach to work, whether that involves formatting documents in a set way, saving assets in specific folders or using consistent file naming conventions. Plan your structures, test if they work and discard what’s not needed. We always aim for the leanest processes possible, and automate low-value admin tasks that stop us focusing on important work. If you feel the same way, you might want to take a look at the fully automatic timesheets we use – you never have to waste time logging what you worked on!

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