Effective Teamwork: The 3 C’s
The past year has been hard on our industry in many ways, and as we moved into working from home during the spring, it quickly became evident just how important effective communication and teamwork is. As we enter 2021 with new prospects and projects, we’re keeping this top of mind.
All of our people have experienced jobs that are successful and run pretty smoothly, and then there are those that pose more challenges and risks. Jobs with more obstacles naturally drive us to seek the errors of our ways so we can adjust our practices for the future. It is in this arena that we garner our “lessons learned” and look inward at what we could have done better as individuals and as a team. After all, steel sharpens steel, right?
We have much to learn from both types of projects, but too often we allow the sense of accomplishment to blind us to our micro errors along the way. For our teams to succeed under any circumstance, we must always prioritize communication, team coordination, and cooperation. Although this may seem like a fairly simple concept, sometimes the most uncomplicated plans are the ones that work best. As we begin a new year, let’s reflect on the simple things that carry a lot of weight that create successful projects and relationships.
Communication is something we do every day and yet it is often overlooked. Open and clear correspondence between each member of the project team lessens assumptions and the risk of misinterpretation, and without this, you invite the risk of expectations not being met. Not every client, owner, and team is alike. Each of our colleagues has different backgrounds, passions, ways of learning and communicating, and expects different things. The best way to build a trustworthy and transparent relationship is to understand what each team member is wanting out of the transaction to accommodate expectations. Be vocal and be honest, but most of all, listen.
If the team’s expectations are heard and understood, we can establish trust with our colleagues. Great jobs are normally the result of a team that worked well together because there was a sense of commonality, a sense that the team wants to deliver the product you have in mind and is working towards that common goal with you. When a client feels that you have tried to understand them, it shows that we want a partnership.
Another factor that contributes to the dichotomy of job outcomes is the coordination of the team’s needs. Every plan has defined coordination efforts, but not all plans are properly coordinated. Typically, this action lies solely with the general contractor and more specifically, the project leaders. With coordination, we need to manage our needs and by doing so, we manage expectations.
Although we cannot plan for unknowns, when there is buy-in from the team and follow-through, the jobs have a better chance of going smoothly. On a job with complications, it’s common to find miscoordinations. Improper coordination is a completely avoidable factor. The takeaways from this are to coordinate your efforts with your team up front but never stop coordinating and adjusting during the project and take the knowns and work them into your plan. If everyone is invested in the team’s success by investing in each team member's success, then you’ve created a formula for a successful job.
Executing a plan gives the team a feeling of accomplishment that boosts confidence and emboldens us to push forward to accomplish more. This confidence also shows your team that leadership trusts them, and progress is made. When a team completes these good jobs, they train more, trust more, and get more done. If we are always talking, evaluating the workload through the context of expectation, and fulfilling the duty assigned to you, a team will be successful.
Perspective is everything, and a team leader is not only responsible for task management, but also for managing the team's perspective. The positive outlook on a good job can be threatened by an issue that catches you off guard, and it’s how a team reacts, resets, and reengages the project that keeps us keep the initiative. This perseverance is what keeps a good team running a good job. When something doesn’t go as planned, the very first thing a team leader must do is withdraw from the issue and come to a higher altitude so that you can see the context of an issue. They can evaluate the factors that lead to the issue, but also see the possible solutions that would otherwise not be visible at the micro-level of the issue.
The past year forced us to get back to the basics, and in this, we found we can continue to unite as a team if we maintain the straightforward practices that build a solid foundation. We’re keeping these 3 C’s in mind as we step onto the jobsite so we can maintain the momentum we’ve all worked so hard to build.
- Josh Thomas
Operations Manager, MW Builders