By Annie Pettit

Every Monday morning, after weekends full of family, friends, chores, and fun activities, as the coffee is slowing being consumed, we meet as a company. The goals of this meeting vary from week to week but they regularly include discussing lessons learned from recently completed projects, getting business and strategy updates, learning about new research and strategy tools, and learning ways to encourage leadership, positive culture, and personal growth.

This Monday, we spend some time talking and learning more about what it means and how to work as a unified team. We can all use a reminder once in a while so I hope you find these four tips for building a unified team as helpful as I did.

  1. Collaborate
    • Work together to build the best solutions for clients. To achieve the best business outcome and the best return on your investment, the focus must always be on what is best for the client, not simply what is easier or quicker or cheaper.
    • Value and respect each other strengths and roles in the process. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I love writing, whether that’s questionnaires, research reports, blog posts, or website copy. Other people love designing marketing strategies and working directly with clients to solve tough business challenges. It’s only by working together, collaborating, that we can deliver a clear and comprehensive report that clearly outlines the best business strategy.
    • Transparency in all things is key. Make sure clients know who they will be working with, and who is responsible for which components as early as possible. It can be by email, phone, or in person, as long as it’s early on in the relationship so there is no confusion going forward.
  2. Communicate
    • Always keep team members informed of not just your big, bold ideas, but also of changes that could affect other pieces of the project including research design, timing, and cost. When everyone has the full picture, clients will always gather the same relevant and current information no matter who they speak with.
    • Communication is always better when it is direct. Rather than playing the telephone game or telephone tag, make sure everyone is in the room when clients or colleagues share feedback. Nothing can get lost in translation when everyone hears the original words.
    • Remember to CC your entire team in emails that refer to processes like research design, and data collection instruments like discussion guides, and questionnaires. Seemingly small edits can make huge differences so it’s best to ensure everyone has the opportunity to consider changes before unexpected problems arise.
  3. Cover
    • Teams that collaborate effectively will rarely suffer when calamity occurs. In one recent example, a colleague was stranded on the side of the highway with a flat tire and consequently late for a major client meeting. While he was making alternative arrangements, the rest of the team carried on the presentation without a glitch because they were informed and prepared. When the colleague eventually arrived, he was able to continue the meeting where the rest of the team had finished. Being able to cover for a colleague is essential in times of emergencies, but also when project work is unexpectedly heavy or when it’s holiday season.
  4. Celebrate Contributions
    • And last but not least, give credit where it is due. When it comes time to prepare the credit slide or the signoff page, remember to include all of the teams not just the main team. We are always better together.
    • Celebrate everyone’s contributions. Once you’ve closed the books on one stage of a project (we know projects never really end!), take a bit of time to celebrate internally. Give heartfelt thank yous to the contributors and tell them why you appreciated their contribution. Go beyond the generic “Thanks all” and offer specific reasons to specific people so they know without a doubt that you’re grateful for them. Take a few minutes to celebrate the success, something we know a little bit about having been named the 2017 Best Workplace for Celebrating Success by the Great Place to Work Institute.