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How to Promote Effective Teamwork in the Workplace

To remain competitive, people must work closely together and collaborate effectively across the company to get tasks accomplished quickly enough. So, how to build an effective team?
By Anna Doan | EnvZone Staff
on October 15, 2019 | 9 min read
Image Credit: CYPCCoalition

Effective teamwork is an important aspect of any small business’s success. There are many benefits of teamwork, most notably, an increase in motivation from your employees. A recent study showed that when people are treated as partners or team members – even when physically apart – their motivation increases. Motivation from your employees means more success for your company.

Developing an effective team in your small businesses can seem like a simple and straightforward task, however it can be difficult to execute and put into practice. Members of your small business want to be able to believe in the process and realize the wonderful outcomes that come from working together as opposed to individually. Here are 9 teamwork benefits in the workplace.

Top 9 Benefits of Teamwork

1. It Encourages Innovation

Two heads are better than one, and this is especially true in the workplace. Teams are better able to produce more creative, innovative and practical solutions to problems than someone working alone.

When bouncing ideas off one another in a brainstorming session, employees tend to feel more confident about coming up with unique and more outside-the-box ideas. On the other hand, someone working alone will usually present the safer option to their manager. 

2. It Provides a Support Network

A strong team environment is essential for the success of any small business, especially during difficult and challenging times when team members will help and rely on each other for support and guidance. This allows them to remain focused on the goal and they can complete projects more efficiently. Conversely, a stressed-out individual with a heavy workload working alone is at risk of becoming overwhelmed and making bad and costly decisions. 

3. It Allows Flexibility

Collaboration in the workplace may mean the added benefit of a more flexible work schedule, as members are generally cross-trained to cover for each other’s skills and strengths. In fact, this allows employees to plan their personal obligations with little disruption to projects while ensuring that important and fast-approaching deadlines are met. It’s also important to note that flexible working can help to improve productivity and develop a better work-life balance for employees.

4. It Improves Morale

When the workload is shared and members of a team collaborate, they can feel a greater sense of accomplishment when they complete a task and reach a goal that they would not have been able to achieve had they been working alone. This, combined with a sense of belonging, appreciation and recognition, can drastically improve employee self-esteem and morale. In turn, when employees find joy in their work and experience job satisfaction and less stress, companies see a drastically lowered turnover rate.

5. It Boosts Productivity

First things first, working within a team allows for the workload to be shared equally among members and distributed according to each member’s skills and strengths. With more hands on deck, tasks are completed faster and more efficiently, thereby increasing productivity.

6. It Improves Service

The importance of teamwork is not limited to the workplace but also to the service provided to customers. Generally speaking, people tend to shy away from companies with unhappy employees and prefer doing business with small businesses whose employees demonstrate a strong work ethic and team spirit. Teams that work well together are, therefore, essential in improving service and meeting the needs of customers. 

7. It Teaches Conflict Resolution Skills

No two employees are the same and polar-opposite personalities will clash in the workplace. They often have different habits and work styles, and this can frustrate one another. However, because each member of a team collectively works toward a common goal, they learn to resolve disagreements on their own for the sake of the project and their team. This is especially important in healthcare roles, for instance, as it increases patient safety.

8. It Establishes Strong Relationships

Another huge benefit of teamwork is the establishment and development of strong relationships among co-workers. This helps them communicate more freely and openly, as well as encourage and motivate each other to work to their strengths and talents, which is key to the success of any small business.

Generally speaking, being part of a team allows members to build trust and share a strong bond with each other, creating an environment where they feel comfortable trying new ways of doing things and asking questions about things they don’t understand. Without trust, the team is destined to fail and will inevitably crumble. 

9. It Advances Your Career

Finally, working as part of a team can help you advance your career. By collaborating with others at work, you’re exposed to their skill sets, can learn from them and expand your own skill set. Not only that but it also provides you with the prospect of building your professional network with alliances that can potentially lead to bigger and better opportunities further down the road.

It can also be an excellent opportunity to lead, which can help you present yourself in a positive light in your next performance review. It will also give your CV a boost and, consequently, give you a huge advantage over the competition.

Besides, there are ten common team challenges that you are likely to encounter when you work in, or lead, a team.

The Teamwork Challenges You Face

1. Lack of trust

Trust is crucial to teamwork, and it starts with team members knowing each other. Team members absolutely need to know each other, both professionally and personally. Otherwise they won’t understand each other and they won’t want to engage because they haven’t made that human connection – and they won’t fully trust each other.

2. Not sharing information

Knowledge is not power. Teams members all bring their unique set of skills, knowledge, experience and wisdom to the table. Effective teams fearlessly share regularly and generously for the benefit of everyone. This makes the capability of the whole team grow and gives the team more power.

3. Lack of transparency

Without transparency, trust will suffer. Transparency is becoming the expected norm in business and expectations are growing. It starts at the top, the more senior you are the more responsibility you have to be a role model for this. Employees will follow the leader’s behaviours, good or bad. When this is done well it can have a positive cascade effect throughout the small business.

4. Low engagement

Team engagement is crucial to small business success. Team members who are engaged are interested in what they do, committed to the team mission, willing to going the extra mile. They are there in body as well as mentally and emotionally. The key to engagement is involvement; by involving others you make it impossible to stay detached.

5. Conflict and tension

Conflict, a difference of opinion, can be healthy and if carefully managed it can trigger useful debates. It can make people think differently, expanding knowledge and insight, and innovation can happen and results flourish. Different opinions are not a bad thing. It’s how we handle the conflict that makes a difference.

6. Badly perceived, not delivering

A team has a team brand, an image and a reputation, created by the actions and behaviours of the team members. A large part of the perception is driven by how well the team delivers on expectations and promises made. As a team you need to make sure that everyone understands and takes responsibility for their role in creating the perception of the team. This includes both what is delivered and how it is delivered.

7. Working in silos

Silo working is a reality for many teams. Team members may sit side by side but not really working together. A great team can be like the three musketeers, all for one and one for all. If you are in a team you may as well be really in it. Working together in earnest is about making the most of the fact that you are a team. Honour your time and efforts by seeing yourself as a full time member of the team, not just an individual contributor. Imagine how great it would feel to be part of a team where everyone is thinking of the team and not just themselves.

8. Poor change management

Change is constant, and unless carefully managed it can be detrimental to teamwork and results. Change starts and ends with communication. Whenever you think you’ve communicated enough, you need to communicate some more –and it needs to be interactive; listen, talk and involve. Be aware of the change curve, the four predictable stages of change; Denial/resistance, Emotional, Hopeful, Commitment. Each stage is needed but how long someone stays at each stage can be managed and kept to a minimum.

9. No long-term thinking

Businesses have to get beyond day-to-day urgencies, be able to take a holistic view, see the big picture and how all the parts fit together. For a team this means being able to think beyond your own area; how you fit into the wider small business and how you impact the customer experience and value proposition. This is about business sustainability, long-term success. Everyone is busy but just being busy is not enough. Long-term success requires long-term thinking.

10. Not going in the same direction

To walk in the same direction, a team needs to know where they are going or what they are contributing to (vision) and why (purpose). Spend time on this with your team. This clarity provides a framework and “reason to be” that can rally a team to work together. Keep in mind that visions need to be compelling and purposes meaningful. People respond to the importance of both.

If you want to create a great team, pay particular attention to behaviours. How we behave has an impact on others and affects how they behave. It’s when we change our behaviours that we can achieve transformational change.

However, how to build an effective team. To remain competitive, people must work closely together and collaborate effectively across the small business to get tasks accomplished quickly enough.

Here we combine 11 characteristics of high-performing and effective teams:

Top 11 Secrets to Effective Teamwork

1. Clear direction

Your team needs a specific, measurable goal to help them prioritize what’s important, drive them towards a definitive result, and give them a sense of achievement when they reach it. A clear goal is a fuel which drives each member’s effort.

First, you need to realize and communicate the team goals and desired outcomes. Use them for clear direction for the team you select and leave the team flexibility to develop the best way to get there.

2. Open doors and clear communication

Communication is crucial for building a sense of camaraderie between team members.

Clear and transparent communication is when the team is able to communicate effectively and there is a feeling of open communicative relations between all members of the group. All the issues are handled by face-to-face communication and team members do not talk behind each other’s back.

Keep your door open to let your coworkers be with you. The more freely you talk to your team members, the more comfortable you are in sharing ideas and insights. This is one of the reasons why modern businesses emphasize communication and collaboration tools.

Here, it’s a relevant thing to add a couple of words about listening. It is not just a way to find things out but also a sign of respect. Listen like you mean it and demonstrate that you’re listening.

3. Collaboration spirit

The more you collaborate and communicate, the more you create and the better products you get. Thorough and close collaboration is a trait shared by every high-performing team.

It can be difficult, especially if some members possess strong personalities. Successful teams tend to have strong leaders that are able to keep everybody on the same page while keeping the petty bickering to a minimum.

4. Playing by the rules

Any team should have a set of rules that determines its operating procedures and acts. This set helps to keep the team on track and eliminate any ambiguity. It means that everyone has to agree to the rules beforehand.

5. Defined roles

Skill sets, specific roles, and thinking styles are required for teams.
If it’s needed to develop a new product, the team will need a detail-oriented person who can keep the team on track.
An explorer is also an important role because he/she can be more of a big-picture thinker who can help the team see what is possible. There is also a need for a person who will be responsible for measurement and metrics.
Of course, your team may have other roles, but you should have a good handle on those roles before you begin managing the team.

6. Encouraging differences in opinions

Common goals and their agreeing are essential. However, it’s not about suppressing alternative ideas and opinions. Divergent opinions within a team may enhance team performance.

7. Mutual accountability

High-performing teams accept responsibility as individuals and as a team. Team members should not blame one another for mistakes and failures. And no one should spend time in personal justifications.
Any success should be celebrated together.

8. Team trust

The truth is – team members who cannot trust one other or and do not believe in the defined team goals seldom get success.

Focusing on solving problems is a natural thing for effective teams. There can be trust between team members only if they can translate their views freely.

That’s why managers and team leaders often undertake team building exercises and problem-solving activities that put everyone in positions of trust.

9. Decision making

There are a built-in decision-making system and a hierarchy in any effective team. They help teams to react quickly and effectively to all situations. Each member is respected for the various areas of expertise, and the leader obtains the members’ opinion to formulate the group’s response.

10. Efficient use of ideas

Generating ideas is the crucial skill for all teams. Brainstorming is one of the ways to come up with the solution to a problem. Every team member should be able to propose information and formulate that information into a response.

11. Having fun

Permanent work can lead to burnout and lack of productivity, so it’s important for any team to have time for fun and relax. It shouldn’t be just work and no play.

Collaborative groups that work particularly well together should enjoy each others small business and get together outside of the office sometimes to socialize and have fun.

Creative such positive relationships with colleagues can make for a much more relaxed environment and reduce conflicts.

Conclusion

A powerful team is the foundation of high-performing small business and a good team ethic may lead to the success and smooth running of a company. If employees do not feel each other’s support and do not work well together, problems, conflicts, and risks can arise.

The characteristics mentioned above are definitely required for the teams’ great performing and the total small business’s success.

This article is also credited to Chron, SUSAN M. HEATHFIELD and Pavel Kukhnavets

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