Four Tips for Tackling Team Optimization

August 25, 2017

Drive your team to success by applying one or more of these teamwork tips.


  1. Tackle team structure first. First and foremost, it’s critical to assemble an ideal team.  In Jim Collins’ best-selling book, Good to Great, the author implores, “If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”  Start by taking stock of who is on the bus and consider reassigning employees later should you deem they are not a good fit or worse yet, are detrimental to overall team performance.
  2. Empower teammates with responsibility. Empowering employees with the responsibility to make decisions is logical because they are typically closest to the problem.  As opposed to teams who have little or no input regarding ultimate decision making, teams charged with problem-solving are more apt to connect with knowledge experts for their opinions and conduct research before making a recommendation.  Dale Carnegie’s 16th Human Relations principle, ‘Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers,’ underscores the importance of delegating decision-making.  Managers can still require official sign-off on the ultimate decision, however entrusting the team to problem-solve fosters trust, collaboration and growth.
  3. Assign different types of tasks. Dale Carnegie’s 3rd principle, ‘Arouse in the other person an eager want,’ reminds us that no one wants to do the same thing, all day, every day, no matter how much they regard and respect their teammates.  Unlike with multitasking or doing many things simultaneously, the brain actually benefits from doing different kinds of tasks.  David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, reveals the following positive results of team members being assigned diverse sets of tasks daily:
  • A decrease in stress and anxiety:“Bring your dopamine or adrenaline level down by activating other regions of the brain other than the prefrontal cortex.”
  • An increase in mental capability by batching communication:“A study done at the University of London found that constant emailing and text-messaging reduces mental capability by an average of ten points on an IQ test.”
  1. Master appreciation. Sadly, only one third of U.S. employees strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work according to Gallup.  Dale Carnegie’s 9th principle, ‘Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely,’ is one surefire way to recognize stellar teamwork.  It costs very little yet pays huge dividends in terms of team recognition and development.

Consider honoring a team member weekly or monthly by creating an ‘MVP’ award for which the prize could be nominal, such as use of a special parking spot, or as costly as a free lunch or gift card.  It only takes a few minutes to announce who the winner is, and then be sure to ask how they accomplished so much in such little time.  The answer may reveal a new and improved method of approaching and/or completing a task.

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