Working in teams may come easy for some, but teamwork is not always fun and easy for all.

Circa 1996 I began my long career in some sort of administrative support role. Whether I was supporting a real estate agent, a doctor, or a franchise owner, I worked independently for a large portion of my time.

My first real experience working in a team setting was in the late '90s, and it was during a time when I was a supervisor in a medical transcription office. The facility was “pulling” or requesting volunteers to roll out a new system that would be used facility-wide, but it highly focused on getting words in an electronic system, thus the background in transcription would be useful.

The first meeting nearly caused a panic attack as I looked around the room and did not know a soul. How was I going to work with people I did not know? By the end of the meeting I was wondering, “How can I work with people who don’t think like me? Who talk too much? Who don’t stay on task? Who would rather talk about the weather?”

When I changed positions, working in a team happened at least quarterly, when all our offices came together, and annually with supporting owners and managers. It was quite different when I knew most of my team members, and being in a leadership role allowed me to keep things on task when needed. There were occasional frustrations, but not an alarming number.

If you don’t particularly enjoy working in a team, most likely you will need to take a deep breath and “suck it up.” Sounds harsh, but it is reality. Working well together despite excessive meetings, lack of direction and other distractions is essential to your success.

A highly visual workflow platform for teams, monday.com, helps different teams work together to manage numerous projects at the same time. Leah Walters, head of communications at Monday.com, has three smart ways to get the most productivity and enjoyment out of working together on a project.

Plan visually

Teams are more likely to succeed when they can see their progress. Use tools that visualize deadlines, status updates and completed tasks so it’s easy for your team to stay on track.

“There are so many platforms out there that are really hard to get your team to actually use,” Walters says, but finding a tool that’s fun and helpful can make all the difference.

Prioritize transparency.

Keeping teammates in the dark can stall a project. By sharing the same information with every member of the team, it shows each person that they are essential to decision making and gives team members the ability to execute on their own.

“Transparency and trust empower your people. When team members have all the information it allows them to take their ideas and run with them,” Walters says.

Celebrate the small wins

Sometimes, large goals can seem intangible and unattainable. But breaking them up into smaller tasks can make every step of the process feel like a victory. Don’t wait until the final stages are complete to praise your team for their work, Walters says. Take time to appreciate little milestones.

“Celebrating and acknowledging when the team completes a task or hits a goal really creates a happy environment where people want to work harder,” Walters says.

Now that I am solely a virtual assistant working from home, my interaction with clients is by phone or email. Oddly, I sometimes crave sitting face-to-face with several people and tackling a project that requires time, energy and critical thinking.

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to news@postbulletin.com.

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