Getting things done with teammates

By Tom Dowd | Apr 07, 2016

To use a sports analogy, if you run with a ball on your own from point A to point B, it will take you longer than simply kicking it or throwing it to another person already at point B. We try to do too much on our own. Whether we want all the glory, think we can do it better, or simply just want it done, there is value in getting others involved. This chapter isn’t about dumping, or even delegating. It’s about teamwork. Depending on your position, you may still have to supervise, validate the work, or make sure it gets done, but you should find opportunities to avoid doing everything on your own.

Think about the expertise you have surrounding you. Do you have the right people working on the right tasks? Start to keep a list of contacts with their specific expertise so that you can quickly reference it. If you are part of a team effort, schedule time with your peers or co-workers, particularly if you’re all depending on each other’s contributions. The benefit of a routine get-together is that it allows people to obtain consolidated information in one sitting as opposed to communications going back and forth with “reply all” emails that can take up valuable time.

It’s important to have a meaningful and added-value manner for people to get updates. If it’s not a meeting, at least create a consistent time each week for a progress summary with everyone’s contributions. The goal is to create a routine in which people know when and where updates and answers will be given, which reduces surprises and questions like, “Where do we stand on project A?” If you do set up a progress report email, be sensitive to the amount of time it’s taking everyone. You want meaningful content, but not time wasted for emails that go unread or administrative tasks that take away from actually completing the real work.

Once a routine meeting or progress report is established, clearly define roles and responsibilities. This will hold people, including you, accountable to meeting the deadlines and keeping people informed of status updates. Knowing who is doing what and when is a critical component of time management.

When dealing in team situations, it’s also important to divide and conquer. Not everyone needs to be at every meeting. Have someone who attended the meeting provide an update and any key deliverables to the collective group. Also, it’s important for you to schedule actual work time for yourself and/or sub-group to ensure time is not all spent in meetings relating to what is being asked of you. As for meetings taking up all of your day, you have the right and obligation, whether you are the organizer or not, to question when meetings have run their course and are no longer valuable. Don’t have meetings to set up meetings. Look to get rid of time-wasting tasks.

Understand the importance of working as a team. A group of people can get more done in less time than one person if the process and roles are managed well. It is obvious, but is not always done effectively.

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