The Secret Sauce for Building Cohesive Teams

Though it may seem paradoxical since many of us work independently, teamwork is a critical component of a freelance translator or interpreter’s professional life. Introverts and extroverts alike need collaboration and interaction in order to thrive, and oftentimes quality necessitates working together to resolve questions and agree on solutions. Whether you’re volunteering on a committee, working with a team of translators and editors on a big project, or joining forces in the interpreting booth, cohesive teamwork enhances and enriches your efforts.

Here at The Savvy Newcomer, we have learned the value of cooperation and collaboration time and time again as we work together to bring you content on a weekly basis. No team is perfect, but we’ve worked out quite the recipe for cohesiveness as we have been growing and stretching as a team since 2013. Starting with a team of three translators who barely knew each other and had no idea what platform we would be creating, Savvy has grown to include eight members that coordinate both a weekly blog and two conference sessions. Read on to learn more about what we’ve concocted!

Ingredients

1 core team of 2-3 dedicated individuals who share a common goal

  • Each teammate should have a role to play. Know your strengths but also be willing to back each other up when needed.
  • Add more people to the mix as you need additional support; integrate slowly, making sure they know they are valuable to the team and have an important role to play in your group’s success.
  • Sometimes teammates don’t work out; be willing to have frank conversations with teammates who can’t commit to working with you or whose work doesn’t line up with your team’s objectives.

2 people trained and prepared to take on each task

  • It’s inevitable that teammates will need breaks or go on vacation or take leaves of absence, because life happens. Make sure that no one person on your team holds all the knowledge about critical processes.
  • Keep SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) so that it’s easier for someone else to take over when one person needs a break. Update these on a regular basis, or every time your process changes.

1 communication method that suits your team

  • Agree on a platform that everyone can communicate through, whether it be email, Slack, or a listserv. Keep communication clear and concise but friendly; business colleagues can talk about everyday stuff, not just business!
  • Share ideas openly; make it clear that your team is a safe place to springboard ideas and build confidence.

1 file sharing method that suits your team

  • Whether it’s Dropbox or Google Drive, make sure everyone on the team can access the documents they need in order to pull their own weight. If one person can’t get to the SOPs, they can’t be helpful even if they want to!
  • It’s also important for your file structure to be well-organized; when new members join the team they shouldn’t have to take a crash course in how your folder system works. It should be intuitive and logical so that people can get up to speed quickly when they pick up tasks for other team members.

Instructions

These ingredients aren’t foolproof, but hard work and good camaraderie are a good combination so we believe you’ll find that this mix will make for a viable team. Keeping commitments is critical to any team effort; make sure your teammates can count on you and vice versa. Be open to improvement and adaptation; your process may need some tweaking over time, and in particular you may need to do some adjusting as you get started. Lastly, be aware that sometimes you put together the perfect dream team and it just doesn’t work out—the timing might not be right, it might not be what your audience wants, or your dream team might not mix the way you thought it would. That’s okay! Take note of lessons learned and try again.

What types of teams are you a part of, readers? What is your team chemistry like? What unexpectedly worked or didn’t work?

About Jamie Hartz

Jamie Hartz is an ATA-certified Spanish to English translator, transcriber, and editor. She is a full-time freelancer and specializes in business and legal translations. She had her first taste of translation while studying abroad in Seville, Spain. The university she was studying at offered an Introduction to Translation course, and since then, she hasn’t looked back! In May 2015, Jamie completed an M.A. in Translation (Spanish) at Kent State University. During the two-year degree, she worked part-time as a freelancer and part-time as a project manager at a language services provider. In June 2015, Jamie launched full-time as a freelancer. She currently serves as Secretary of her local ATA chapter, the Delaware Valley Translators Association. Jamie has been part of The Savvy Newcomer team since its inception in 2013. To learn more about Jamie, please visit her website at http://tildelanguage.com/

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