— 35 min read

When thinking about the importance of teamwork, several questions have probably floated through your head. How do you create more successful teams? What are the key components of a high-performance team? Which strategies should you implement to improve teamwork in the workplace? What do employees want or expect from you?

Asking these questions is the first step to implementing successful changes to the way you approach team communication. As a leader, it is of utmost importance to educate yourself on promoting effective teamwork in the workplace so you can spot problems and make smart decisions on how to move forward to better optimize teams through working together.

We believe in setting high standards and hard goals as part of our business model. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about the importance of teamwork in your team or company.

Table of Contents

The Unique Traits of High-Performance Teams

HPTs (or High-Performance Teams) are the groups and organizations that are highly focused on their goals and achieve superior business results through excellent teamwork in the workplace.

Not knowing what makes a High-Performance Team can ruin your business and even cost your job. After all, at the end of the day, results are really all that matters. Low performers are a common issue in the workplace, as they are the ones who prevent your teams from reaching their full potential. The most crucial side effect from having a low performer in your team is that they drag down the high performers and prevent effective teamwork in the workplace. Whether they are carrying the low performers on their back or trying to improve them, low performers prevent the efforts their peers make on improving themselves and their work, destroying the importance of teamwork throughout the whole company.

Fortunately, there is quite a bit that a leader or a manager can do to choose the right individuals for the job and create an environment focused on growth. The secret is knowing the unique traits of a high-performance team and using that knowledge to your advantage to avoid common teamwork in the workplace pitfalls. After going through several case studies and research articles, we came up with 9 key traits that separate high performers from low performers. By educating yourself, you can craft the ideal team that draws in great performers and fosters environments that cut down on low motivation and low output group work.

9 unique traits of high-performing teams

Guide to Motivate People at Work

The greatest, most valuable resource in any organization are the people who make up its interior. The importance of teamwork should not be undervalued. Individuals are the ones who create, innovate, achieve business results, and drive the organization forward with their input and ideas. As a leader, it's your job to help everyone unlock their best selves.

Motivation leads to higher performance, morale, and productivity. Despite this, 30% of executives claim that motivating their employees is their toughest job. We want to help you answer the following questions to make the process more approachable so you can prioritize the importance of teamwork within your organization:

  • Why motivation matters for teamwork in the workplace?
  • The cost of disengaged employees
  • What, statistically, truly motivates people?
  • Practical 6 step guide to motivating people at work
Leader's guide to motivate people at work

What Employees Want From Managers

In most situations, offering higher salaries is not the key to the hearts of your employees. The big thing is job satisfaction, and job satisfaction creates more effective teamwork. Employees want to find deeper meaning in their work, and it's largely your job as a leader to deliver it and to continuously gauge employee satisfaction.

Work culture is shifting, after all. Millennials are dominating the job market, and they are focusing much more on the importance of teamwork working smarter instead of working harder.

Having a higher engagement rate than competitors helps you attract and keep better talent. This, in turn, makes sure that you do not have to pay to train new staff members.

The best way to engage with your employees to increase effective teamwork in the workplace is to actually communicate with them. But if you are still stuck, we've compiled some key, statistics-based information to help you.

Teamwork in the workplace

10 Ways to Build Stronger Teams

In our modern, digital age, we are constantly bombarded by an excess of information. Advice for building teams is no different, as it is such a broad topic that even an overzealous camp counselor or your grandma probably has opinions about it.

Looking at some of the best practical tips about teamwork in the workplace, we compiled them into one infographic for convenience.

These suggestions are based on real-life usage, not abstract theory. The goal is to make implementation as easy as possible. Though some of them may seem obvious, little reminders can greatly improve team communication.

Effective teamwork

Managing Remote Teams

Remote employment has become one of the fastest growing trends in the business world. This is likely not going to change as technology makes working remotely even more attractive. Likewise, organizations are turning to employees that work off-site as a means to widen their network and cut labor costs. After all, as of 2018, 70% of the global work market works remotely at least once a week.

The ten commandments of managing remote teams

Delivering Results as as Leader

As a leader or a manager, it is your job to create an environment where everyone can meet their potential. Furthermore, it is your responsibility to keep the team heading in the right direction. Most managers have people above them as well. So, what matters most to them is their ability to deliver results and being able to meet goals. Basically, setting goals is not enough to actually achieve them. You have to remember the importance of teamwork. So, if we consider that, how can a leader or manager do everything they must without compromising the work environment in a team?

We've compiled 7 steps you can take that will aid you in creating a successful team that not only delivers, but exceeds expectations.

7 step guide for a leader to deliver results as a team

Improving Internal Communication

It should be common sense how essential it is for you to improve internal communication in your organization. Communication contributes directly to the importance of teamwork, after all!

According to this Towers Watson study, companies with highly effective communication practices enjoy 47% higher total returns to shareholders compared to organizations with poor communication.

Improved internal communication doesn't only affect your returns to shareholders, it can also increase employee engagement, build stronger teams, and enhance the competitiveness of your company. Effective internal communication practices help you increase productivity, build a better workplace, and reduce day-to-day conflict between team members.

10 ways to improve internal communication

How Companies to Get More Growth in Revenue

According to Gallup, from their article, State of the American Manager – Analytics and Advice for Leaders, there are four human capital strategies which combined can add up to 59% more growth in revenue per employee. We've summarized that information below for you in a way that's easy to digest.

How companies can get 59% more growth in revenue

Boosting Team Motivation and Performance

A happy team is also a productive team. So, when team members don't work well together, you should probably be concerned. The collapse of team motivation often leads to other issues with performance and output. And, when your teams aren't getting work done, it's the manager who will take the fall.

To avoid this, you should take preventive measures to improve workplace teamwork. Although it's important to make sure the office runs smoothly without any distractions and internal communications flow both ways, it's also essential to reflect and acknowledge the behaviors that might drive your team performance down.

By drawing from research conducted by ourselves and others, we've put together an infographic that shows the top 10 mistakes team leaders tend to make. We also provide easy fixes to help overcome individual challenges:

10 team motivation killers and how to fix them

Planning Your Week

All efforts made to progress the importance of teamwork ultimately come down to what's done on a weekly basis. Having big goals really means nothing if you don't remember to dot your i's and cross your t's. Having everyone plan their weeks in advance cuts back on wasted time and helps to improve team and company communication.

Making sure to share your weekly Plans and Progress with your team and managers helps to improve communication as a whole and helps to make a habit of it. It's incredibly wise to use Weekly Planning software with an entire team to form a culture around sharing activities with everyone. When plans are public, everyone knows what you are working on can ask for your assistance (or vice versa) if necessary. Google uses a system of public goal setting with Objectives and Key Results. The idea is that when everyone knows what everyone is working towards, individuals are able to understand the goals of their company. What makes this important is that it increases everyone's engagement and desire to collaborate, making both things much easier.

Teaching the Importance of Teamwork

There's a few typical archetypes that stop the progress of workplace teamwork. Keep in mind, this is when the problem is with them, not you and how to deal with difficult circumstances that emerge because of this. Obviously, there are significant exceptions to perfect teamwork even if you do everything well in theory. Humans just don't act like you want them to, but there are still ways to handle the situation without having to fire capable individuals.

difficult team members
difficult team members

The general consensus (if you don't feel like reading much of this section) is that poor team players often just lack the social skills necessary to function well with a team. They can usually be taught how to perform better in a team. And if they never adapt to the team player lifestyle, they shouldn't be able to influence collaboration within the rest of the team or organization.

The One Who Promises Too Much

People tend to make promises they can't keep, and actions are always much stronger than words. Many who are guilty of this do not really intend to be harmful (I was like this with my old college roommates and I didn't notice I was doing anything wrong until they approached me). You see, the most likely story is that big promises are made (especially in team meetings) but you find out later that the person involved is never actually going to finish those three video scripts in a week. This can be frustrating if you believe them, as that task could have been delegated to multiple people and accomplished much faster.

The safest way to deal with this problem is to make backup plans if they fall through or ask the promiser to collaborate instead. This will cut back on disappointment and prevents you from having to straight up not trust the promiser.

The One Who Just Sits There

So, you're working on something together. Chances are, with the project, there might be someone who's just along for the ride and rarely contributes. You've seen this person as far back as grade school with assigned group work and they're always annoying and always make collaboration a chore.

bad team member
bad team member

Having these people lead can sometimes be a motivating factor as it gives meaning and purpose to their work. That way, also, there are many more repercussions if the individual fails to deliver.

However, if they're just known for being lazy, it's best to monitor their activities and introduce a public, weekly reporting system. That way, they'll be measured by the work they do and not by the fact that they are merely present. One-on-one communication is also a must to deal with this type, as there may be underlying sources to their supposed laziness like insecurity or job dissatisfaction.

The One Who Takes All the Credit for More Successful Teams

It's normal to want praise. However, some crave it so much that they'll seek it out at the expense of their fellow team members. These folks are the ones who will claim the most credit when a project is done, but also, are the last ones to tell you when something goes wrong or address problems when they arise.

Encouraging a culture of honesty is the best strategy for dealing with these types and improving teamwork in the workplace overall. Likewise, encourage a culture of praise surrounding problems or questions so that the credit-taker might no longer fear them. If this doesn't work, have a meeting with the entire team and emphasize the importance of work honesty and integrity. The shame of getting publicly called out should hopefully remedy the attitude.

The One Who Whines

Nothing brings group morale down faster than someone finding fault in every little thing. These are the types who will complain about little details in meetings, arguing with everyone and making the meetings go way over time. They will equally be found whining about work instead of actually working, possibly dragging others into their world of pessimism.

The simplest way to deal with these types is to give them a greater sense of responsibility. Not only does this cut down on the time given to whining, but it means that the whiner is held accountable for their own actions. If they continue whining about the increased responsibility, then you simply have a lazy worker and should look above on how to deal with that.

The One Who Listens to No-One

There are individuals who are so productive, or smart but just don't work well in a team setting. They don't listen to anyone else's ideas, preferring their own, and dismiss any recommendations from others. They don't seem to even understand the importance of teamwork.

Letting them do their own thing and delegating tasks to them where they can work in private is the simplest solution. Cutting back on meetings and using reporting tools equally help this loner participate without really realizing that they're participating. This is a compromise that lets the loner check what others are doing at their own pace while working towards a unified goal.

Everyone in a team must understand that they are working towards the same end goal. Emphasizing this point through everyday communication is the only way to get everyone behind one, unifying idea.

How Excessive Meetings Destroy the Importance of Teamwork

Think about the fastest way to waste 10 hours of work. If you read the title of this article, you probably figured that it has something to do with meetings. And it's true. While it may just sound like an exaggeration, $37 billion is spent every year on unproductive meetings. This is not just lost income: a big part of it is wasted money. Still, the number of meetings is increasing every year. In 1974, there were 11 million meetings held every year in the US, and by 2014, this number rose to 55 million.

To make the most out of meetings, the idea isn't to focus on quantity, but quality. Cutting down on meetings so you have as few as possible is the best way to optimize both time and money.

How excessive meetings destroy teamwork

Bringing Status Update Meetings Online for More Successful Teams

One of the most common reasons for meetings is the "status update." This is where team members share what they've done over the week. And while these meetings were necessary 30 years ago, there's hardly any information shared in these meetings that couldn't be communicated online.

The thing that comes with technological advancements is new work culture. Millennials are taking over the jobs of their predecessors and they have different expectations for their work environment. Social media is an integral part of their lives, and finding a tool that saves time motivates them further. If your system doesn't make sense, they're more likely to either leave or tell you. So, take that advice.

Bringing status update meetings online
Bringing status update meetings online

Reporting tools like Weekdone allow you to achieve all the benefits that are usually ascribed to meetings. Weekdone promotes socializing without unnecessary, time-wasting banter. It allows everyone to share ideas without sitting in the same room, which is incredibly beneficial for a growing group of remote workers. It also encourages the importance of teamwork daily without the need to set aside time to focus on team-building events.

When You Do Need to Have Meetings

There are some meeting you must have. And there are some meetings that have real value to your company. However, unless you plan your meetings, focus on the result and solve some problems online, they'll become distractions that just waste your precious time.

The Importance of Teamwork Without Meetings

It is increasingly possible with modern technology to limit the number of meetings held. How it works is that, instead of calling a meeting to find out what the team has been up to, everyone has easy access to a tool that is accessible from their browser or mobile device. This cloud-based tool helps everyone check what their coworkers are working on in real-time. Not only does this better optimize time, but it creates a transparent view of company going-ons that is recorded in a space that everyone has access to. So, for example, you no longer really need to disturb the sales team with questions in the weekly meeting when the answer is right there in the digital report.

workplace teamwork

Remember, an efficient, justified meeting is a good one. If the team does not know how to conduct meetings that run smoothly and focus on what matters, then the meeting will likely be unproductive. Just remember: unproductive meetings waste both time and money.

For more evidence on how meetings could actually be pulling you down, look to researchers Alexandra Luong and Steven Rogelberg. Their analysis shows that the more meetings employees attend, the more exhausted they feel and the higher they perceive their workload to be. What is more, did you know that:

  • On average, professionals lose 31 hours per month to ineffective meetings (that is almost four work-days).
  • 91% of meeting attendees admit to daydreaming during meetings.
  • Unnecessary meetings cost around $37 billion to US businesses alone.
  • Most professionals (a whopping 89%) believe that technology will make meetings easier in the future. And, considering the date of that source, this is already true.

Case Studies

Luis Goncalves and Maintaining Agile, More Successful Teams

A great example of effective teamwork in the workplace is how Luis Gonçalves approaches agile teams. Luis is the leadership coach and author of "Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives," and while talking about general, modern management and organizational strategies, he also addresses how he gets his "agile" teams to be at their most effective.

Luis Goncalves

After all, one of the biggest ideas that Luis deals with is: "one of the crucial aspects of being a leader is being comfortable with and open to transparency." It's no coincidence that the importance of transparency is universally recognized in the modern working world.

Maintaining Agile Teams

Luis talks quite a lot about his "agile teams." But what does that mean?

Luis tells us that while leadership teams are responsible for setting strategic goals and deciding what actions are needed, agile teams are actually responsible for delivering on these goals.

In Luis' words, agile teams are crucial for driving the completion of deliverables within an organization. These teams can take different forms but are often critical for the overall success of various departments and the company as a whole.

When dealing with the absolutely essential issue of transparency, Luis expresses that he, "…believe(s) that one of the crucial aspects of being a leader is being comfortable with and open to transparency. You need to inform employees what's going on and what you want to achieve. This is because the people you're working with want to understand where the company is going and what they need to do to along the way."

This makes sense. After all, from the view of a leader, you need to communicate more than just your expectations for your employee's daily sprint activities.  You really need to express how their work factors into the bigger picture and long-term company vision.

This is especially an issue in older teams and organizations. In these circumstances, everyone's a lot more specialized. Everyone has specific skills and capabilities and want tasks to go with them. Agile team structures involve more teamwork in the workplace. It's an absolute necessity. It's not important 'who' exactly gets the job done, but rather that it gets done and that the team accomplishes its goals.

Luis emphasizes that not everyone needs to have a hand in all tasks, but everyone should have a basic knowledge of the different skills necessary that go into completing them.

Connect with Luis on his blog or on Twitter.

Mariano Suarez-Battan, CEO of Mural: Setting Up a More Successful Team You Can Trust

Mariano Suarez-Battan has worked with many teams and organizations. In addition to building MURAL from a successful startup, he has designed games and helped build Idea.me, one of the most successful crowdfunding companies in Latin America. In our interview with Mariano, he discussed his workplace teamwork and management strategies.

Mariano Suarez-Battan

When discussing delegation and the importance of teamwork from the manager perspective as a company grows, Mariano offers this advice:

"The founder's role is reinforcing the 'Why'. Remind people why we are doing what we are doing… what's the customer problem we are solving and why it's important. This will drive people and make them overachieve."

"With my team, I make sure that we aim for the sky, push the limits to the impossible and celebrate accomplishments."

"I also need to get oxygen for the company. Fundraising is a pain in the back but a much-needed job to be done by the CEO."

"Ideally then, you delegate the rest, provided that you've found the right people."

MURAL is designed to help remote teams. So, naturally, we also asked Mariano about the role remote teams play in the modern world and how to get remote teams to collaborate:

"If they can be together, then make it so. Even for remote teams, I would still advise them to get together as there is rapport and trust building that needs to happen before creative remote collaboration can go full speed."

The issue is that there are a lot of advantages to having people work from wherever. The main advantage being you can get the best people wherever they might be. In our case, we have a great product team in Argentina and we have our client-facing team in the US."

Video Resources

1. Tom Wujec's TED Talk on "Build a Tower, Build a Team"

Investing deep research into team-building exercises, Tom Wujec discusses why certain groups beat the average when focusing on the importance of teamwork.

There's a simple team-building exercise featuring spaghetti, some tape, and a marshmallow that can help you with your team. The worst performers of this exercise are actually recent graduates of business schools. On the other hand, some of the best are in kindergarten! We can learn a lot from children when working on teamwork in the workplace. Watch yourself:

2. Simon Sinek's TED Talk on "How Great Leaders Inspire Action"

Teamwork is all about working together with a group of people to achieve a goal. This can be referred to as turning Objectives into results. In order to understand the importance of teamwork, you need to inspire people to act by starting with the golden question, "why?".

In this TED Talk, Simon Sinek introduces a simple, yet immensely powerful model for inspirational leadership. After having watched and analyzed successful leaders and politicians, he discovered a remarkable pattern in the way these people think, act, and communicate. He sums up his discoveries in the Golden Circle, which he defines as a naturally occurring pattern on why we are inspired by some people over others.

What is your why?

3. Dan Pink's TED Talk on "The Puzzle of Motivation"

It's no secret that the importance of teamwork includes motivating your team. This is an important task that falls on the shoulders of team leaders. Here's where Dan Pink jumps in and offers some great insights into the puzzle of motivation. He states that there is a considerable distance between what science knows and what business leaders can do.

What are these differences? Are traditional rewards as effective as we think? Find out:

These TED Talks are great reminders on the importance of workplace teamwork. But in order to find the exact routes to success, you need to know how your team is performing. You should keep up with their Progress, Plans, and Problems. These enable you to jump in and motivate those around you when things go off-road. The best way to do that is to take advantage of modern technology.