Effective teamwork is something that every organization strives for. We have all heard success stories of teams who revolutionized the world.
"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." – Babe Ruth
Unless you are running a one-man show, effective teamwork in the workplace accomplishes much more than any one individual can. As workload increases, you must rely more on inter-team communication.
For half a decade, we at Weekdone have helped thousands of teams increase their productivity by using our Weekly Planning and Quarterly Objectives software (sign up for your free trial now).
But here is the catch. This kind of workplace diversity can also create new problems that can impede progress.
There are 2 fundamental dimensions for functional teams: the team's task and the social factors that influence how members work together as a unit. On one hand, teams are created with the expectations that they are able to carry out tasks more effectively than an individual can. On the other hand, teams contain a wide variety of individual, emotional, and social needs. Ignoring one of these dimensions means failing to achieve the potential of team performance.
According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, effective teamwork in the workplace happens if people consider themselves to be similar. The greater the diversity of background and experience, the less likely team members will share knowledge or show collaborative behaviors.
Here's the disturbing controversy: it's proven that similar people work well together, but as work tasks continue to get more complex, people with diverse expertise and background are forced to collaborate.
In these conditions, how do you achieve effective teamwork in the workplace?
It's clear that putting people together with similar backgrounds and expertise is not the solution to this challenge. Promoting effective teamwork in the workplace is a much more productive approach. Here are five techniques you should try:
What's one of the easiest ways to make team members lose faith in teamwork? By restricting their autonomy to make decisions that allow them to accomplish their tasks.
When it comes to decision-making, you often rely on the knowledge of your team members. This is why collaboration is becoming an essential ingredient for success. Collaborative leadership is about skillful management of relationships. This management should enable team members to succeed individually while also accomplishing a shared objective. Giving your team the power to make decisions serves as great motivation for effective teamwork and to bring about radical change.
To move in one direction, people need to clearly understand their destination. Research shows that individual performance is improved in situations where there are clear targets to aim at. The same applies to teamwork in the workplace. When your team has clear goals to achieve and gets regular feedback, their performance and overall effectiveness improves. However, team goals only function as a motivator of effective teamwork if you provide accurate team performance feedback.
Objectives and Key Results (OKR), a technique used by Google to define and track objectives and their outcomes, is a technique you should try. Its main goal is to connect company, team, and individual Objectives with measurable results. The value in OKRs are their ability to clearly communicate leaders' expectations and connect different-level goals into one whole. Since these goals are kept public and transparent, teams can move in one direction and know what others are focusing on.
You can start quickly and easily setting goals and Objectives in Weekdone.
According to a survey conducted by Microsoft Office, professionals waste up to 3.8 hours a week on unproductive meetings. No matter what you call them—status updates or team gatherings—these meetings are a waste of time if there is no value in them. Although it's perhaps not reasonable to have teamwork without meetings, making sure these meetings are productive is a step towards effective teamwork in the workplace.
One way to promote effective teamwork through productive team meetings is by using status reports. In a recent interview with the team from Whole Foods, it appeared that using status reports has improved their meetings. It has allowed them to move straight to strategic discussions since the reports already gave a clear overview of what got done and what has been planned for the future.
To get the most out of your team meetings, try the Team Meeting Checklist. It's an easy tool that helps you plan for upcoming status meetings by providing a list of criteria to reflect on. Through proper preparation, you can save time and turn those dreaded team meetings into success stories. After all, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
To avoid social loafing, make the progress of an individual team member visible to the whole team. To promote effective teamwork in the workplace, the team needs to be aware of progress made. The more dependent team-members are on each others' plans, the more crucial it is that they keep an eye on everyones' progress.
If there is one effective process that is usable from companies like eBay and Skype, it is the Progress, Plans, Problems (PPP) process. This process is a management technique for recurring status reporting. The PPP process provides a great overview of how everyone on the team is doing. It communicates three essential parts about every team member: biggest achievements, current plans, and major challenges. Weekdone's service is also built on top of the PPP template and automates the whole process.
A little fun never killed anybody. Furthermore, working in a team should be fun and inspiring, not an annoying obligation. Business and enjoyment can be partners in crime. Integrating a little bit of fun and humor that promotes effective teamwork in the workplace is a great strategy. A positive attitude helps the team overcome many challenges and builds trust and enthusiasm.
Try ice breaker activities to boost team spirit and nurture positive attitudes. Ice breaker activities are a fun way to start a meeting, training or a team-building event. Here are some ice breakers you could try right away:
- The Not Known Fact – let everyone in the team introduce themselves by providing one surprising fact that others might not be aware of. This will help everyone build more meaningful and in-depth relationships and offer extra discussion topics.
- The Team Web – passing a ball around the room, each person needs to introduce his current role and tasks in the project. This will help the whole team come to an understanding of each others' roles and responsibilities.
- The Trust Walk – this requires everyone to pair up into teams of two, one blindfolded and the other leading. The person who isn't blindfolded gives directions to guide the other participant. It's great for building team spirit, trust, and teaching people to listen to each other.
Effective teamwork requires setting and communicating clear team Objectives. You need to make sure team members are working together towards goals and helping out by providing relevant and timely feedback. This may sound like a huge time commitment for a busy manager. Luckily, there are team collaboration software solutions that make promoting effective teamwork easier.
To implement these best practice tips in your team, just sign up to the Weekdone trial!