Working in a team

Many companies hire now new people, who can improve the joint atmosphere and assist in employee development. A team is a group of individuals with divergent characters and abilities that are motivated and inspired by different things. Knowing what drives individuals is the base for more efficient and productive relationships.

Connections and their quality

The number of connections and their quality in a team is important. The following graph show how the number of connections grows with the number of people.

dependency between the number of people and the number of communication channels on a team
Figure 1: The number of connections/communication channels in a team grows exponentially with the number of team members

In a team of five people, there are ten different connections; in a team of six—fifteen. One additional person has increased the connections with 50%. Bigger teams rarely function well—there are unused connections and unexpressed opinions. Proper communication still remains a big problem within companies; it is essential for successful project completion and for initial customer impressions. For a team to be cohesive, individual members must feel like they are part of something bigger that themselves—a cause that doesn't finish with themselves. The development of a "team spirit" in such a group doesn't happen in a day—it's the result of long collaboration, clear processes and responsibilities. People with complementary skills work more efficiently in a team than people with the same skill set. But this can also complicate the understanding of how their roles fit into the big picture and decrease the chance that they develop each other. An overlap of some of their skills can facilitate a more constructive communication. There are three types of people within a team: (1) self-oriented, (2) task-oriented and (3) interaction-oriented. Women naturally fit in the last category, which is why they can more easily eliminate tension within a group. But these types aren't static—a person can change its type with the time.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere in a company strongly affects our quality of work, but is often overlooked. Noise, dirt, absence of light, stale air, bad surrounding moods, deadline rush, meetings, calls, email, chat and others adversely influence productivity. They can take us constantly out of our state of flow and lower our morale. Motivation drops, concentration takes longer and results decline. Other team members often infect us with their feelings—it everyone is happy and thrilled to be there and contribute, we are much more likely to be happy too. If they are sad, angry or fearful, that feeling will transfer to us too.

It's best to have two workplaces for every individual—one, where he can work alone and one, where she can participate openly in discussions with other team members. Such separation allows for a psychological division of the level of involvement and for a full utilization of people's capabilities. Although such organization can be beneficial to many companies, they are slow to adopt it. The reason for this might be the disadvantages of the model—a private office space for every employee is expensive and when only few people have it, this could lead the rest with the feeling of unfair treatment.

Develop individual team members, if possible

In small teams it's also important to develop the people around you. You should be aware of their problems, eventually helping and pushing them and the whole team forward. They'll push you in some way too, contributing to your continuous progress. Don't hesitate to develop other people if you have the chance. Think about them as your clients—if you help them, they'll learn to value you as a person and will keep coming back. This leaves you—the small negligible mosaic piece— and your colleagues—the whole mosaic without the one small piece— better prepared for hard challenges. You develop your self-consciousness and contribute on the large scale. Teams are more important than ever, but they consist of members—trainees, juniors, seniors, team leaders— that need individual, dedicated development plans that consider their wants and the company's needs. Only so can the company evolve successfully in the long term.

Work synchronization

The more people on a team, the better the synchronization of their efforts needs to be. A lack of synchronization methods increases communication costs. A version control system can solve some of the arising issues bound with them, but it's not always problem-free. This way work can easily be shared—files that were committed, can then be checked out by individual team members. There are possibilities for conflicts if two people work on the same file with different data. It's best that everyone is informed what changes were made and which people's work was affected by them, so they can check out the most current version locally.

Events

Events are great to bring the team member's relationships on an entirely new level. The socialization process allows everyone to learn more about everyone. But it can be hard to engage people with very different characters or interests in the same activity. Events provide a great opportunity for more "discussion points", which improves further the communication between people. They are also a way to learn from industry experts, their unique viewpoints and valuable experience. They can help us "adjust our watches and inspire us with a burning desire to get things done immediately. They aid us in aligning with our goals when we are off-track and nurture our curiosity to find out, who we really are. Unfortunately, going to events is rarely tolerated in most companies, when important clients need more attention and deadlines are looming. Nevertheless, they remain a useful pillar for team development.

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