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Secrets to highly effective teamwork

Collaboration at work

Want to know the secret to creating an effective business team — one that is all about teamwork?

The most effective teams tap into what makes each member unique and what motivates them, according to Cathy Rodgers, a corporate consultant on teamwork in business and area chair of the University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences at the Jersey City Campus.

Here are her suggestions on how to improve your results when working in a group:

Make an effort to communicate better.

The most productive members of an effective team do a lot of listening. “Really listening,” Rodgers says, “so you are really hearing what [people] are saying as opposed to thinking of a thousand other things and not fully paying attention.”

Improved communication is helpful when conflicts arise and need to be resolved among team members.

Look for what motivates each person.

When delegating or discussing work one-on-one, it’s important to find connections between tasks and team members’ personal goals. “The mistake that we make as human beings is assuming that what drives us drives everybody else,” Rodgers says, “and it’s not true.”

One team member’s motivation, for example, could be to complete a project under budget. Another team member may want to make a difference in the company or for a client.

Tap into individual assets.

If you assign tasks according to personality and strengths, you’ll end up with better results than if you assign based on other factors. Think about each team member’s “strong points as far as personality and how their minds work, not necessarily how good they are at say, programming or some other skill,” Rodgers advises.

Some people are visionaries and full of ideas but not good at focusing on the details to make things happen. Others are good at putting one foot in front of the other until a job is done. You need both types, Rodgers explains, and they need to be assigned tasks that play to their strengths.

Do your part to raise morale.

Rodgers believes that team members work better when they are acknowledged, especially by the leader. However, it is also good if co-workers are generous with compliments, since just about everyone works harder when they feel their efforts are noticed and appreciated.