"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. " – Henry Ford on effective teamwork in the workplace
Unless you are running one man show, you must admit effective teamwork in the workplace achieves more than a single individual can on his own. Work tasks are becoming increasingly challenging, leaving you dependent on different people with a wide range of expertise.
For half a decade we at Weekdone have helped thousands of teams become better by using our weekly planning and quarterly objectives software (it's free to try out and get started).
But here is the catch. This kind of workplace diversity can also create barriers to effective teamwork in the workplace.
There are 2 fundamental dimensions of team functioning: the task the team is required to carry out and the social factors that influence how members work together as a unit. On one hand, teams are created entirely on the expectations that they are able to carry out tasks more effectively than an individual can, furthering organizational objectives. On the other hand, teams consist of people with wide variety of emotional, social and other kinds of needs that teams can either help to meet or frustrate. Ignoring one of these dimensions means failing to achieve the potential of team performance.
According to research published in Harvard Business Review, team members collaborate more easily if they perceive themselves alike. The greater the diversity of background and experience, the less likely the team members are to share knowledge or show other 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 to achieve effective teamwork in the workplace?
It's clear that putting together people with similar background and expertise is not the solution to this challenge. Promoting effective teamwork in the workplace is a way better strategy. Here are five techniques you should try:
What's one of the easiest ways to make team members lose their faith in teamwork? By restricting their autonomy and level of power 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, which is why collaboration is becoming an essential ingredient for success. Collaborative leadership is about skillful management of relationships that enable the team members to succeed individually while also accomplishing a mutual objective. Giving the team the power to make decisions is a great motivation for effective teamwork and to bring about radical change.
To move towards one direction, people need to clearly understand the destination. Research evidence shows very consistently that people performance is improved in situations where there are clear targets to aim at. Same applies to teamwork in the workplace. When the team as a whole has clear team goals to achieve and gets regular feedback, their performance and overall effectiveness improves. However, team goals function as a motivator of effective teamwork only 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. A great value in OKR is its ability to clearly communicate leaders’ expectations and connect different-level goals into one whole. Since these goals are kept public in front of everyone, the teams can move in one direction and know what others are focusing on.
You can start quickly and easily set goals and objectives in Weekdone – try it out here.
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 will be seen as 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 a team from the Whole Foods Market, it appeared that using status reports has improved their meetings. It has allowed them to move straight to strategic discussions since the reports already give a clear overview what got done and what has been planned for the future.
To get the most out of your team meetings, try also the Team Meeting Checklist. It's an easy tool that helps you plan for the upcoming status meeting by providing a list of criteria to reflect on. Through proper preparation, you can save time and turn those dreaded team meetings into success. 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 the progress. The more dependent team-members are on each others plans, the more crucial it is that they could keep an eye on each others progress.
If there is one effective process that can be easily taken 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 service is also built on top of the PPP template and automates the whole process.
A little fun has never killed nobody. Furthermore, working in a team should be fun and inspiring, not an annoying obligation. Forget about not mixing business with pleasure. Integrating a little bit of fun and humor that promotes effective teamwork in the workplace is a great strategy. Positive attitude helps the team overcome many challenges and builds trust and enthusiasm.
Try ice breaker activities to boost team spirit and bring about positive attitudes. Ice breaker activities are a fun way to start a meeting, training or a team-building event. Here is a pick of 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 the team-members build more meaningful and in-depth relationships and offer extra topics to discuss about.
- The Team Web – passing the 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 to pair up into teams of two, one blindfolded and the other leading. The person who isn't blindfolded gives directions and cues to lead the other participant. It's great for building team spirit, trust and teaching people to listen each other.
Effective teamwork demands setting and communicating clear team objectives, making sure team-members are working together towards the goals and helping out by providing relevant and timely feedback. A lot of obligations for a busy manager, luckily there are team collaboration software solutions that can make promoting effective teamwork in the workplace easier.
To implement these best practice tips in your team, just sign up to Weekdone trial and see it all magically automated.