So, the manager just walked up to say that they need you on a team project and the planning meeting starts in 10. You grab your laptop and coffee, wander into the conference room with a smile plastered on your face and “please let this be a good group, please let this be a good group” on loop in the back of your head.
Working with a good team is the BEST thing on the planet. When everyone clicks, asks intelligent questions, and gets their parts in on time you see high quality work and feel proud of the output.
Unfortunately, good groups are hard to find. More than likely, your team will be made up of the following:
- The Initiator – This is the person who has their stuff together. They get the ball rolling during the initial meeting, connect with all the members, and keep the project moving forward. They’re the de-facto leader and take on all the attached responsibility.
- The Distraction – “Oh my gosh that reminds me of this one time…” “I need coffee, does anyone else need coffee?” “Oh! Hey, have you seen this video? HILARIOUS!” Needless to say, this person has a hard time keeping focus and enjoys derailing the conversation.
- The Volunteer – This is the person in the project we all love. The one who steps up and volunteers to take on the meatier parts of the assignment, side projects that no one wants, or extra tasks that pop up unexpectedly.
- The No Show – This person is so busy that they can’t even respond to team emails, slack chats, or calls much less attend any of the meetings. Their work is not done or presented sloppily. They usually have some pretty amazing excuses, and apologize often.
- The Coaster – This person is the biggest pain in the butt. They show up when it suits them, they don’t actively participate, they don’t offer input, don’t do the work assigned, and still attach their name to the project when it’s done. They benefit from their team’s hard work and cause unnecessary friction.
These teams are just painful. The unequal distribution of work leads to extra stress on the people who are actually trying to contribute. That stress quickly changes to a “screw it” mentality and quality takes a back seat to just powering through and getting it done. After all, what’s the point if no one else seems to care?
According to Gallup, only 30% of US employees strongly agree that their coworkers are committed to doing quality work. That leaves 70% feeling frustrated because of a disconnect between coworker contributions and expected output.
If we could bump the number of people who feel like their coworkers care about quality from 30% up to 60%, organizations can start to see the following:
- 29% reduction in employee turnover and absenteeism
- 11% improvement in profit
- 6% increase in engaged customers
The reasons for those benefits are simple. If your employees focus on quality output when working together, then they also need to focus on effective collaboration. They’ll need to find where they fit within the group, monitor their progress and impact, and be accountable for their work. Cross-functional teams create a chance for employees to stretch the comfort zone, learn new things and meet new people.
All of the above boosts engagement, productivity, quality of work, and allows employees to take pride in what they’ve accomplished. Clients take notice and respond positively.
So how do we make this happen?
- When forming a group or team, be sure that all members able to commit fully to the schedule and demands of the project.
- Set expectations early. What is it that needs to be done and when do you need it by? What is the ideal end state?
- Have quality checks throughout the project. This can be done through regular status meetings, review sessions, or through a more formalized company process.
- Keep a close eye on cross-functional teams. Each department works in their own mysterious ways, and that can make working together incredibly complicated. Managers can help ease tension by prepping their departments ahead of time, asking for feedback on how they can improve, and acting upon that feedback to help keep quality output the center of attention.
- Make quality a key piece of your messaging and communicate that message early and often.
Hopefully this blog will help you tackle the ninth element of engagement. Stay tuned as we count down to number 12!
If you missed the preceding articles in the Employee Engagement Series:
- How to Improve Employee Engagement: Start with Expectations
- How to Improve Employee Engagement: Focus on Productivity
- How to Improve Engagement: Allow Employees to Do their Best Work
- How to Improve Employee Engagement: Give Praise
- How to Improve Employee Engagement: Show You Care
- How to Improve Employee Engagement: Encourage Development
- How to Improve Employee Engagement: Make their Opinions Count
- How to Improve Employee Engagement: Make the Mission Clear