Our top 10 tips to make sure your teamwork’s working

If you have very different teams working together, internally or externally, it’s only natural – you want them to deliver the best possible joint performance. It’s a common challenge for marketing teams and their agency partners; it’s also a challenge that’s being faced by teams who are developing new ways of working in a post-pandemic ecosystem. How *do* you make sure the teamwork’s working?

Over the last decade we’ve worked with hundreds of teams in this situation. Usually they’re from different companies, all trying to improve their performance. Some techniques need tailoring – and GreenGrass offers programmes that work on teamwork dynamics with you – but we can also summarise the generic changes that will always have the greatest impact…

1. Measuring what matters

Often, teams simply aren’t breaking down or identifying the core components that drive or inhibit success – they can’t see how to or what will solve the problem. Take the time to work out which aspects of the relationship make a difference and lead to its success. Then ~ measure it.

Look at the clarity of direction, for example, from each team’s leadership. The quality of the briefing, the effectiveness of project management, or the effectiveness and efficiency of the day to day management structure. Measure the commitment to innovate, push the boundaries and the working relationships that both teams have developed.

2. Minimise your blind spots

Seek 180-feedback as a minimum and 360-feedback where it matters most. Measuring satisfaction isn’t enough as it drives as a one way monologue. Both teams should evaluate each other and, where it matters most – e.g. quality of briefing from the marketing team and creative response from the agency – they should use tools to run self-assessment that can be repeated, analysed, and understood. That way, you can identify gaps in self-perception that unconsciously act as barriers to improvement.

3. Measure REGULARLY

Don’t just measure the status quo. An annual check gives too much time in between for the status quo to remain. Quarterly can be tedious and there isn’t enough time to implement the changes. The sweet spot is between every 6 and 8 months – potentially corresponding with year-end or the calendar of joint activity.

4. ENGAGE TEAMS IN THE PROCESS

Make them curious, get them involved. If you want change and improvement, both teams must be actively engaged in the process. They need to know their opinion counts and will make a difference, and that they will see the results and be involved in a dialogue around them. In our experience, this drives up response rates to 90%+.

Curiosity helps drive change, so ensure the data you gather is displayed in an interesting, easy to digest and relevant way. Balance qualitative with quantitative data. Scores out of 10 provide an instant read and feel for a situation, but it’s the comments/written feedback that provide the context and texture. Make sure you provide both.

5. INJECT OBJECTIVITY 

Work with an objective and independent team coach who can enable curiosity and courage to find the reality behind the dynamic. When two teams are working together, one often has more control and influence than the other. Neither wish to upset each other, and the understanding on what needs to change is often muddy, or unspoken.

By employing an objective and independent team coach, you’ll find the process is supported – building psychological safety-nets that enable teams to dialogue more openly, be honest, speak their truth and own their part in future solutions.

6. MAKE TIME TO MEET 

Discuss the feedback openly, align around the take outs. Don’t let all the hard work go to waste by not talking about the feedback and clarifying what has been said and what is meant by it. Rather than squeeze everything into a 45-minute break, a lunch-hour, or a ‘between meetings’ get-together – show your teams the respect they deserve. Set aside a couple of hours so that you can focus, with all the energy that’s needed, to feed reflections clearly back into the room.

7. CREATE A CLEAR PLAN OF ACTION 

Do so promptly, ideally within two weeks of collecting all the feedback. Great initiatives and ideas fade if they aren’t put into action. Commit to writing up a joint plan with clear objectives, clarity on what success looks like, who is responsible and a timeline for remedial plans. And don’t forget to circulate that plan.  If it’s only in your heads, there as many different versions of the plan as there are people in the room

8. Check in on progress 

Meet up to discuss the progress that’s being made, in between formal feedback sessions. The action plan itself won’t make change happen. To get traction, set up regular slots to re-group and evaluate the impact of the joint steps you are taking. If you diarise these in advance, you are more likely to make the time for them.

9. PROMOTE CONTINUOUS LEARNING

View this as an ongoing process, not an intervention. After  six or eight months has passed, get both teams’ perspectives again. In this fast-paced world, things shift quickly, people move in and out of teams, restructures happen, responsibilities shift and there is always a ‘new normal’ on the horizon

10. CELEBRATE THE WINS

Team work has never been more important, but your teams need to know that too. Take the time to reflect on the reasons why something was successful – decode it so you can ensure you do it again and take the time to celebrate that win. Mastering team work within the same team, is challenging enough. Nailing it between teams, often in two different companies can seem impossible – how do you see ‘over the fence’, to help that other team meet you half way? When you get it right, it’s so rewarding. If you’d like some help – give GreenGrass a call.

“We’ve worked with GreenGrass for over 18 months. They’ve given us the rigorous insights to strengthen the performance of our own marketing teams, and the analysis to improve our relationships with key agency partners. GreenGrass gets to the heart of issues – managing potentially challenging discussions with sensitivity…” Telecommunications Director