Every successful team that I have ever been a part of has one thing in common, and it’s not experience or exclusively high performance. It’s teamwork, or more specifically, the ability to get along with one another and have a good time.
When you are on a team, you see your teammates during work, evenings, and even the weekends on occasion. They become part of your life for the time that the team is together, and between weekly meetings and deadlines, you have to spend a lot of time with your teammates. If you don’t get along with even one member of the team, it can make that time frustrating and unproductive, and you can get tired of your team pretty quickly.
Although certain conflict in a team is productive and essential (i.e. respectful conflict over ideas for the team or project), conflict that stems from not getting along with your team is not healthy or effective. It is counterproductive and makes everyone on the team less excited about the project. In fact, it likely makes all the team meetings frustrating and hard to get through.
But when the team gets along, something exciting happens: the project becomes much more than meeting deadlines and accomplishing tasks. The project becomes something that the team wants to do and be a part of. Teammates look forward to the meetings and time spent on the project. The team becomes a place for productivity and fun all at once, and you see the results. You can have all the smartest people in the room, but if they don’t get along or incorporate strong teamwork into their project, their results will not be as effective as they could be.
If you are part of a new team, there are plenty of ways to encourage this behavior among your teammates. One way is to build a unique team identity. When the team has an identity that is their own, the team has something to latch onto as an anchor for collaboration. It creates a commonality and spearheads productivity. To create a team identity, you can develop mottos, rituals, and team names together to get started.
In addition, team building should take place outside of project meetings and work. Take the whole team out for a night of bonding or go out to dinner every other week. Doing so can further solidify the team identity and help the team become more comfortable with one another. The team should be able to get along with each other even outside of work.
Teams that know how to get along can achieve maximum results and put meaning into their work. It makes the project more fun, more productive, and more worthwhile for all involved.