10 July 2014

The Formula To Actually Get Things Done As A Team


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


Leadership and management


Meeting, discussing and planning a project or team task is all very well, but how productive are these discussions? In some cases brainstorming, mind-melding or whatever phrase is used for simply talking to each other, actually delays the tasks that are needed to complete what needs to be done. Here are 5 ways that you and your team can supercharge your project planning and get on with what’s important.

Make sure the meeting(s) aren’t a waste of everyone’s time

pointless-meetingMeeting to discuss your ideas, team and individual actions and milestones can’t be avoided in most cases. What can be avoided is wasting the time you’re all in a meeting.

Conducting a meeting that’s productive and worth the time of multiple employees can be achieved by following a few simple guidelines (and using a few tricks).

Ensure that you make it clear when the meeting starts and ends, and that these times are adhered to. This will help to ensure that your colleagues give the meeting their full attention, rather than worrying about the time that the meeting is eating into.

Make sure everyone invited is required and, if possible, inform attendees of your reasoning to include them. This will make it clear as to what everyone’s responsibilities are and what you expect from them, adding accountability. Inviting more than 10 attendees should be avoided as this will reduce the productivity of the meeting. We all know the saying ‘too many cooks spoil the broth”, this is especially true where meetings are concerned.

If a particular department or team have numerous individuals involved in the project, invite a representative rather than the whole team.

Create and share the agenda prior to the meeting. This allows everyone involved to formulate and note their contribution. It’s also a good idea to ask for any suggestions regarding content prior to the meeting, this encourages collaboration and engagement. It might also be the case that an attendee suggests a topic that you forgot about!

Set clear, defined actions for those involved and schedule a review date. If everyone knows and understands what their next steps are then they can get on with them.
Standing while meeting – Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, reported that groups working together on a project while standing are measurably more engaged and less territorial than while seated – source Reuters

 Collaboration and teamwork

collaboration-and-teamworkOnce everyone has their actions and the project begins it’s time to ensure that the productivity is optimised and the project is conducted in the most effective way possible:

The right people for the job – those involved should possess certain qualities that you can capitalise on to make the most of the resources available. Traits you should look for include reliability, communication, a good listener, willingness to contribute and the ability to be flexible if the project direction changes or an issue is discovered that requires a workaround or alternate solution.

It’s important that everyone feels part of their particular team, as well as the project team as a whole. Everyone’s suggestions and/or concerns should be listened to and responded to without prejudice.
Individuals that may be introverted should be encouraged to contribute and partake in ongoing discussions.

Making use of individual strengths will ensure that you get the most from everyone involved. If someone is good as certain tasks then they’ll find it a lot easier to complete these tasks and remain focused and motivated.

Giving responsibilities to someone that will struggle to complete them will usually lead to an unhappy team member if they’re constantly stuck or having to ask to assistance.

Providing the tools to make collaboration easy is key to successful teamwork. There are various online collaboration tools available that will allow all team members to share, contribute and comment on the work being conducted by all members.

Although review meetings should be arranged, continual sharing of  knowledge and progress is key when encouraging engagement and collaborating with different areas of the business.

Online collaboration tools include:

Reviewing and improving

Scheduling reviews of progress is important not only to evaluate how each contributor is performing against the project milestones, but also to assess whether any improvements can be made in any area.
Working in different offices, or even locations, can throw up hurdles regarding communication, having the right tools in place to allow for easy and efficient communication should be a priority.

Reviewing and making sure that these tools are performing at 100% is key.


Another area to cover in reviews is whether additional or alternate resources are required to complete the project. Different skill sets or competencies may be required for unforeseen actions or tasks.

A review is also an opportunity to celebrate what’s working well and the positive progress made by individuals and the project team as a whole. Celebrating successes will increase team spirit and cohesiveness, as well as motivating all those concerned to continue working hard to achieve the milestones.