7 Easy Tips for Successful Teamwork in the Workplace
Teamwork. The buzzword to end all buzzwords. Successful teamwork fosters better communication and leads to more completed projects, which leads to happier clients, which leads to happier managers, which…you get the picture. Or so everyone says. Here are 7 easy ways to get teams working as, well, a team! Just better.
Teamwork is like the Force: it’s everywhere and anywhere and controls everything, but you can’t see or touch it. And only a select few actually know how to use it properly (for better or worse!).
Which begs the question: if it’s so important, why are we so bad at it? Queens University found that 39% of employees believe their organizations did not collaborate enough. Moreover, a study by Rypple found that 86% of employees and execs think workplace failures are directly related to poor communication within teams.
These tips will pay immediate dividends and help you avoid these workplace catastrophes.
1)Encourage Active Listening
Rule #1 to achieve successful teamwork is by encouraging open and active communication. Whether you are brainstorming before a meeting or shooting emails back and forth, everyone’s thoughts must be heard (no matter how dumb Steve’s ideas might be). But it goes beyond that.
You must encourage everyone in the group to actively listen. That means making sure the other team members let the speaker know they are being listened to. We found the best tip is to encourage everyone to ask questions for clarification. Instead of forming rebuttals, make sure your team members are encouraged to understand the viewpoint first.
2) Establish a Framework for Decision-Making
Although teams must have free and open communication, every hierarchical structure must have a framework for making decisions. Everyone must know to whom they must report when a problem arises. When disagreements arise, there must be someone to call the shots fairly. It’s on you to decide where that responsibility lies. Make sure there is a framework for:
- Meeting Calling
- The Final Decision
3) Reward Successful Teamwork
People are animals (in the literal sense!) and animals respond to incentives. And everyone loves recognition for their hard work. Why not create a reward like “Teammate of the Month” or hand out a “Game Ball” after every meeting? If you allow these rewards to be turned in for a free beer or dinner after work with the team, then people will be even more motivated! Of course, let everyone know from the beginning that they’re being watched (or evaluated, however you want to phrase it).
4) Set Clear Goals
It’s on you to let the team know where the company expects things to go. You must set clear goals and ensure everyone knows their responsibilities. This includes:
- Employee Tasks
- Standards of Communication
They must be agreed upon, reinforced, and maintained, especially by leadership. Clear goals lead to easy accountability, which in turn leads to higher standard of performance.
5) Understand the Natural Life Cycle of a Group
Psychologist Brian Tuckman first came up with his group theory in 1965. It lays out the framework for the natural life cycle of every group and how it forms, falls into place, and eventually completes a goal. Knowing each cycle, which one you are currently in, and how it affects group behavior will help you tackle issues:
- Forming: The initial stage where everyone is polite and maybe even a bit anxious. This is where the leader plays the biggest role.
- Storming: People start to push against boundaries and explore how much territory they can take. They’ll even push back against the leader and question goals. Don’t let your team fail here.
- Norming: If the group survives the storming phase, things will return to normal with the goal reaffirmed in everyone’s minds. People now know each other better and will socialize more.
- Performing: The group has survived friction and coalesced with enough strength to achieve its goal. Congrats, you’ve done it!
6) Get to Know Each Member and Play to their Strengths
The modern workplace is agile, fast paced, and diverse. You only have a short time to get to know people of all different personality types and backgrounds. Not only should you celebrate each other’s differences, you should adapt to each employee’s personality. If you know someone is extroverted, don’t be afraid to put them in charge of social events. If someone is introverted, it’s on you to encourage them to share their thoughts but also feel comfortable in a group.
7) Establish Firm Rules
Rules are usually not very fun. But business is business, and as a leader you must set firm rules and make sure they are followed. We don’t mean you should rule with a dictator’s heavy hand, but you should set rules that guide the work flow of each day. Set them early and stick to them. Some ideas are:
- Cell phone use policy at meetings (AKA NONE!)
- Being honest about feelings
- You must either ask a clarification question or support the other’s opinion before forming a rebuttal
- Setting communication hours and keeping extra-office communication to events or emergency requests
When a team is actually working as a team and not just doing tasks in a group, everyone benefits. Projects are done more efficiently, budgets and deadlines are met, managers are happy, and the world is generally a good place. Use these 7 tips for successful teamwork and you’ll start seeing groups become teams in no time.
Soda PDF is a collaborative software that’s perfect for encouraging successful teamwork! Easily send and view documents to and from team members, and save documents in SharePoint to ensure team members are always working on the latest version. Try it out for yourself!