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  • Writer's pictureRyan Mayfield

3 Teamwork Lessons from 2021

Do you remember what 2018 was like? Me neither.

And now it is the end of 2021! When the years fly by in such a blur like the last few have, it is even more important to take notice of the lessons we learned along the way.

Here are 3 standout lessons on teamwork from 2021:

1: Intentionality Wins The Day

Much of the work world in 2020-21 was defined by remote work and, therefore, remote teams. And while zoom happy hours can be fun, it doesn’t take long to realize that they are not the antidote.

One of the greatest losses with the normalization of remote work is the proverbial “water cooler conversation” or the casual drop-in to someone’s office. Sure, these can sometimes be distractions from maximum productivity, but in the long run, relationships often sustain and motivate people to do their best work over time.

With remote work, none of these accidental conversations and interactions happen. Every single interaction between team members must be planned. That is why it is so important, as the team leader, to be intentional with your interactions with the team.

Don’t rely on simple task-list-driven meetings to get everything done. It may feel awkward at first, but regular, agendaless meetings/calls -even just 5 minutes- with each team member will go a long way towards building trust that would have otherwise naturally developed. Bonus points if you can get your team to do something similar with each other!

2: Leadership Drives Engagement

If leaders want their teams to be engaged, it has to start at the top. If a team doesn’t feel like their team leader is engaged, they won’t be either. Leaders must set the tone for everything in their teams. This includes sharing details of your personal life, areas where you may have made mistakes along with ways you are actively trying to grow and improve, and reminding everyone why their work really matters.

Again, with the normalization of remote work, engagement tends to drop naturally. But leaders can counteract this trend with a little intentionality.

Model what it looks like to be engaged with your job and invite team members to see what that looks like. They’ll follow your lead. (And if they don’t, they might find themselves in a different team that has lower standards for engagement, which will be better for everyone anyway.)

3: Money Isn’t Everything

Now more than any time in recent history, companies are struggling to find and retain talent. And when team members don’t feel valued or don’t feel like their job is meaningful, they are more willing than ever to look for greener pastures. Signing bonuses are bigger than ever, even for entry-level jobs. With all that being the case, employers have to differentiate themselves in other ways. 2021 showed us some of the things, other than pay, that employers need to offer in order to keep their top performers, things like

  • making sure team members feel valued

  • aligning people’s talents with their job description

  • giving team member’s a voice in decisions

  • opportunities for personal/professional development

  • flexibility for those juggling remote work & responsibilities at home

Team leaders who can offer these things to their teams are far more likely to retain their key players.

Looking Ahead To 2022

If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that the future is unpredictable.

So rather than trying to do that, leaders should be focusing on building a strong team and a strong foundation, so that whatever 2022 brings, their teams are able to adapt and flex to meet it.

How can you be intentional with the beginning of 2022 to set your team up for success? How can you invest in them in the first quarter of the new year? How can you model engagement? What makes each member of your team feel valued, and how will you do that for them?

Answer these questions, and your team will thrive in every season, no matter what 2022 throws at us!


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