In nowadays workplaces, it is difficult – yet not impossible – to create a collaborative and trustworthy team spirit, due to virtual work. It is challenging to form a high performance team with fluent group dynamics when interaction is not fully transparent. Still, team spirit has a significant influence to the work efficiency and especially creativity in the long run. Without trust and collaboration, high performance teams are not getting to the high performing phase.

Successful business means people working towards the same goal, vision, in a trustworthy environment. This requires open communications culture. When everybody knows each other’s roles & responsibilities, everyone can focus on the own work and doing it well. Trusting, that others will do the same, ending up to an excellent teamwork and deliverables. I have had the luxury of working in that kind of a team in my past, in a local newspaper. And I would like to share my learning with you.

The small local newspaper was done in two shifts. Schedules were tight and hectic, but yet the overall team spirit was inspired and everyone were working towards the same goal – to publish the newspaper on time with quality content to customers. There were no timecards for the employees; they were not needed. We all knew that the shift was over when newspaper was done and printing house has proved a green light. It worked like an oiled machine. And it was one of my best workplaces ever.

Clear roles and communication

The secret for the well working team and good deliverables was simple: clear roles and responsibilities among the teams and individuals. Everyone knew what was my role and what was expected from me – and what is the most important thing – what was expected from others and what were their roles & tasks. Ground rules and decision-making processes were clearly communicated. All of us knew when we were able to make the decisions by ourselves, and when to rise up the issues to the editor-in-chief. That work experience was my lessons learnt of a true teamwork and outstanding team performance. The question is, what made the success?

The answer is simple: trust & communication. Now, 20 years later, I am able to reflect the ingredients of the good teamwork. It was all about trusting people. Trusting that everyone will do their best in their roles with the responsibilities given – without controlling how they will do it. That required good communication about the goals, roles and responsibilities of the teams and individuals. As also well defined and communicated decision-making process. When everybody – and literally everybody – in the organization know what to do and with what power – everyone can focus on essentials on their work. Without knowing the common goal and an own role in achieving that, individuals are working alone doing what is essential for their work, not for the team or company.

I still remember the feeling of working in that local newspaper, especially the moments when there were system problems or what ever that caused a risk of delaying the printing of the newspaper. I remember the feeling when the team managed to solve the problems together, supporting each other and sharing the knowledge to overcome the challenge. We all were striving towards the same goal and achieved that goal.

And what was the role of editor-in-chief in this? She was supporting us in our work, making sure we had all what it took to be successful as a team – delegating and trusting to our ability to do our best with our own way. Whilst being available for support & advice when needed. Nowadays that leadership style is known as coaching.

Mervi Lamberg
Consultant & Business Coach
noname Consulting, Finland