Work is a team sport at heart — no matter how much Morgan grates on your nerves or how much Blake continues to have a total power trip. It can be tough, but these six books about teamwork in the workplace can help.
Need to brush up on your own skills? Passive aggressively share with the office? Whatever the case, we hope this list of the best books on teamwork, collaboration, and team leadership serves you well.
The Productive Team Blueprint by Trello
Project Management for Non-Project Managers by Teamwork
Voice of Support: 10 Support Leaders Weigh in on How to Be Heard by Prodsight
Set OKRs the Right Way by Asana
How to Build a Custom Content Marketing Strategy by Airtable
Mastering Prioritization: the Ultimate Guide for Product Managers by Airfocus
We think this is one of the best books on team building because of the way it highlights the importance of understanding one another. When team members “get” each other, everyone feels like they’re on common ground.
“A tried-and-tested plan for sustainable, successful team collaboration.”
Then you can use things like goal-setting — and collaboration itself — to build a sense of empowerment and belonging.
Many other books on team building tend to focus on skills-building. You’re learning different strategies for effective teamwork, how to implement them, how you can improve your own skillset to get better results. (And occasionally you find a team-building book at the other end of the spectrum, just full of suggestions for icebreakers and work retreats.)
Blueprint stands apart by focusing on a subtler, human-centric “Why?” before moving toward the “How.”
It starts by breaking down the concept of Makers vs. Managers, which is a question of how your team gels on very basic levels:
A team built from mutual understanding is going to be more flexible. More resilient. They’ll work better together and be more likely to explore different perspectives and new ways of getting things done.
There’s no shortage of books on leading a team. But most of them provide an answer to “How do I do this?” This 101-level Teamwork book, sort of like our first pick, is more interested in “How come?”
When the ebook begins by explaining Waterfall and Agile styles of management, it takes a step back from a purely technical description. Yes, it does show you how a project should progress from A to B. But then picks apart the reasons these methodologies are effective, and examine what makes one or the other a better choice for your team.
“No matter what your LinkedIn byline says, we’re willing to bet that you’re a project manager. Maybe not a Project Manager in the official sense, but almost definitely someone who needs to manage projects on a daily basis.”
Next the ebook lays out characteristics you should personally bring to the table as a leader. The explanations are brief, but they still dive into specifics. You’ll learn why each trait will serve both you and the team, and look at different ways the trait might be expressed.
Overall, Project Management for Non-Project Managers is a great introductory text that you can use as a starting point for additional reading.
Don’t let the whole support angle throw you. With a little context switching, this is secretly a great read for learning how to work effectively with others. And it’s one of our best books on building trust at work, too.
“Ultimately we’re all aiming for the same goal, but everyone approaches it from very different perspectives. So different teams have different priorities, and different takes on what the problem actually is.”
Establishing (and maintaining) trust between colleagues is difficult without mutual respect and sincere validation. That’s what “being heard” boils down to. Some of the lessons translate perfectly for general teamwork and leadership:
Customer support pros handle problems nonstop, for an incredibly diverse assortment of people, and somehow stay polite and assertive during each of those interactions. They also encounter disrespect constantly.
So if anyone would understand the power of being heard and the value of playing nice with others, it’s a CS professional. Take notes.
Read these to learn how to work effectively with others in the workplace using logical, repeatable processes. There aren’t many soft skills to be found here. Instead, each book offers specific strategies for working well with others.
For the uninitiated, OKRs are objectives and key results. You work through them in a group setting to establish clear, measurable goals for everyone. That makes them perfect for working effectively with others in the workplace.
“It’s a simple but immensely flexible template that bends and bows to fit nearly every purpose. For instance, OKRs have become just as effective at guiding public policy as they are at directing specific projects for a tech startup.”
When you implement the framework from this book, two things will happen:
Similar to what The Productive Team Blueprint preaches, OKRs provide a baseline for understanding and flexibility. It’s a shared language to define success. But it works without boxing in your team’s potential.
OKRs, as dry as they seem, can both unify and motivate any group. They give people one mission to work toward, and leave little room for working together unproductively.
Honestly, this is first and foremost a content strategy book. But there’s a huge secondary focus on team collaboration. Because for all the ways content is a creative endeavor, it’s also very process-oriented. There need to be plenty of neatly laid out rules once you’re getting a whole team involved in a process.
“But as a team grows, it runs into constraints that didn’t exist before. Knowing who is working on what, when, is much more difficult when more people are working on more things.”
That’s where this Airtable ebook excels. It goes in-depth on:
They make sure to stress the importance of clarity and transparency. For teams to succeed, documentation needs to be done. Team members need to understand their roles. Any smaller units within a big team (like an editorial unit inside of a marketing team!) need to be clear on the details of handing off and getting back work.
It might feel like minutiae, but basic team collaboration skills — like communication and organization — are the backbone of good teamwork.
Prioritization frameworks are traditionally used to figure out what takes precedence for a product team. But learning to prioritize as a group is invaluable for any team, product or not.
“A powerful prioritization process always includes and iterates on four pillars: Managing feedback, defining a framework, executing prioritization (“what to build”) and building a roadmap (“when to build it”).”
So this a great guide for managers (and teams) in general. Like Voice of Support, the ebook still makes plenty of sense even if you take it a little out of context.
The book explains several ways to handle prioritization (from a weighted decision matrix to RICE scores to story mapping). Each method’s goal is to ensure everyone on the team feels heard, while understanding there’s got to be one way forward.
It turns team decision-making into less of a free-for-all and more of an inexact science. Logical rules every team member can follow along with.
Thus concludes our roundup of the best books about teamwork in the workplace that you can start reading right now, for free.
But there’s always another skill or lesson to learn when it comes to working well together. You’re never done improving on your teamwork — just still practicing.
Do you agree with our best teamwork book picks? Did we miss any? You can check them out and browse other free leadership books, or our collection of sales and marketing books, in the nonfik library.
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