How to make the dream work

Mar 08, 2020

To achieve high performance in business, teams need to learn how to work together. Maeve Hunt outlines how to ensure challenges stop standing in the way of good collaboration.

After a period of a lot of uncertainty, the Northern Ireland government is back up and running in Stormont and we have seen the need for parties with very different views and strategies to work together in order to achieve results.

In every walk of life, the need for good collaborative skills is required in order to achieve high performance. It is true in sport, the arts and it is especially true in business.

It is well known that people and businesses thrive and grow when they are free to communicate and work together, but this does bring its own challenges. Effective teamwork is hard to get right.

In most organisations, it is difficult to pinpoint a team that is a shining example of excellent teamwork. The lack of a goal to work towards, role uncertainty, personality conflicts and having optimal working conditions can all lead to ineffective teams. How do we ensure these challenges stop standing in the way of good collaboration?


Increased flexibility with remote working is a fantastic benefit for employees, but research shows it can lead to lack of communication within teams. In my experience, regular video calls instead of phone calls work well in remote working environments and richly benefit overall team communication.

Collaborative goal setting

Team leaders should ensure that strategies and end goals are constantly reviewed and communicated, and make goal-setting a two-way process to achieve buy-in from all parties.

Define roles

The larger the team, the more potential there is for confusion of roles and responsibilities. Time spent defining and communicating roles, especially at the start of a project, can help mitigate this issue.

Celebrate the differences

Collaboration of different personalities and skillsets can help foster a sense of teamwork in an organisation but it can also lead to conflict if not properly managed. Self-awareness is important for all team members, and the leader’s role is to ensure that team members respect each other and are prepared to collaborate to succeed. Promote and celebrate team members with differing views and strengths by sharing their ideas. This leads to a more insightful, creative and effective team.

Work environments are complex. If you focus on the connections between team members, building trust, communicating purpose, and encouraging collaboration, the team can achieve high performance. After all, teamwork makes the dream work.

Maeve Hunt is an Associate Director of Audit and Assurance in Grant Thornton Northern Ireland.