Teamwork is crucial in any organization, regardless of size or what business you’re in. Everyone should be working towards a common goal, and you can always do more to strengthen your team.
Team bonding, communication, and creative problem-solving are obvious essentials to a corporate culture of collaboration. Aside from traditional team-building exercises, there are elements that can be implemented on a regular basis. Here are some tips to help figure out what will make your team work better.
Set Team Goals
Use timelines and structured visual outlines that clearly show current and future goals. The goal must be specific, otherwise team members may pull in different directions, and it must be measurable (for example, indicate how much sales should increase by a specific date). Put this on display in the office where everyone can see. Then, break up tasks to reach the goal, but don’t refer to those handling different tasks as “divisions”; instead, refer to them as “departments” to build a sense of accountability to one another rather than creating separation. The point is for all members to move in one direction.
Create individual plans for every team member. People have different skills, so get to know each person. Hone in on their strengths as well as weaknesses. Use this to delegate tasks that best suit the individual. Recognizing an employee’s individuality and feeding their strengths keeps them engaged.
Foster a Creative Environment
Create a space with an open, non-judgemental framework in which people can brainstorm and pitch ideas. Create teams with diverse strengths and weaknesses. Make sure your employees feel that their ideas are valued. If team members feel supported, they’re more likely to take risks and think outside the box.
Implement Recognition Programs
Rewards and incentives for good teamwork instill a sense of value into the nature of the job. Give the team publicity for its work and recognize individuals who may have gone the extra mile. Celebrate as a team when you meet or exceed the goal. Decide if a finished project calls for a team party. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but enough to give people an incentive to put in effort and be proud of what they accomplish.
Actively Listen to Your Employees
Build trust and openness with your employees by speaking to them often. Schedule one-on-one meetings and listen actively. This means acting on the feedback you receive. Showing this kind of consideration goes a long way towards creating rapport and building a good relationship. Don’t shut yourself in your office; be visible to your employees.
Create an Inviting Work Environment
Open the windows so everyone is working in a bright space. Be wary of visual clutter. Even air and water quality are important to having a productive work environment. Also, remember that everyone is different. Some work well at a cubicle, others at a communal desk, and some are their most productive on a beanbag chair. As much as is permitted, try to cater to individual needs. Something as simple as a desk plant can make your employee feel like they’re cared for, and that, in turn, contributes to overall productivity.
Encourage Social Activities
Teamwork runs smoothly when team members know each other and are comfortable discussing a variety of issues. Leave the office and have an informal meeting over coffee or schedule a day over the weekend for a picnic and team-building activities. Building team relationships outside the office can only be beneficial. After all, a nine-to-five job entails spending a majority of the day with your coworkers.
Address Issues as They Arise
Where there is teamwork, conflict is inevitable; it’s an integral part of learning to work well together. Whether interpersonal or a group issue, the team needs to be able to resolve it professionally. Be responsive as quickly as possible and learn how to deal with conflict as a team. Well-thought-out team-building exercises are an effective way to motivate employees to work together and inspire collaboration. There may be those who consider it a waste of time, so watch out for resistant individuals and encourage them.
Consider team-building a daily priority, rather than a once-in-a-while requirement. An atmosphere where all parties are working toward a common goal and feel valued sets the foundation for effective teamwork, and instills purpose.
Helen Jacob | Staff Writer