Improving Teamwork in Your Business

image: vait_mcright

Most of us groan when we hear the word ‘team building’ and many of us would prefer, most of the time, to work on our own with as little input from others as possible, but if you own a business, you really do need to get onboard with the whole teamwork thing.

Why? Well, not only does a team that works together get on better, which makes the working environment better but employees who work in a team, collaborating and who have developed collaborative competency, tend to be more creative too. Oh, there’s also the fact that working as a team can vastly improve productivity too.

Sold on the benefits of teamwork? Here are the conditions you’ll need to create if you want to fester a culture of positive teamwork in your workplace:

Lead By Example

You might be the big boss woman, but that doesn’t mean that you should treat yourself as being above the employees and it certainly doesn’t mean that you should cloister yourself away in your office for the duration of the working day. No, if you want to foster a culture of teamwork, then you need to lead by example and make it the normal; the done thing in your office. You do that simply by collaborating with your employees as often as you can. Obviously, there are going to be times when this isn’t possible (I’m sure you’re a busy woman with lots of meetings and stuff to attend), but when the opportunity presents itself, don’t let it pass you by.

Facilitate Positive Communication

By positive communication, I don’t mean that you should banish your employees from saying anything that isn’t positive. What I do mean is that you should do everything you can to ensure that your teams have easy ways to communicate with each other and that they have the skills to communicate their ideas, issues, and concerns the right way, without upsetting anyone or getting confrontational.

Not only that, but you should make it know that your door is always open to them, and that should they need to talk about anything at all, all they need to is schedule some time with you, and you’ll have a nice cup of coffee and an eager ear waiting to listen to them. After all, if you don’t communicate with your employees, you won’t be able to ensure that all is going smoothly.

Assign Team Exercises

Instead of always assigning individual pieces of work to individual employees, why not get creative and start assigning more group tasks? It might be a bit different to what you’re used to doing and you might have to change your processes around, but it will get team members together, working towards a common goal, which will boost camaraderie and hopefully lead to some more creative solutions to those nagging problems that most businesses have.

Go on Team Building Events

Okay, so as I mentioned in the introduction, the mere mention of team building exercises is enough to have the average employee groaning, but when they do work they are pretty effective, and you can make them work by doing something your employees will actually appreciate. For example, instead of sending them out to a muddy field where they have to push their body to the very limits in a military style boot camp or build a raft out of sticks, send them on a wine tasting course or have them do something for charity. It’ll be much more enjoyable and worthwhile, and it will give them an incentive to take it seriously, get to know each other and build a strong team!

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Collaborate with Other Companies

If we’re talking collaborative competency, then we can’t not mention the role that other companies can play. It’s not only important to have your team working together well, but also being confident that your team can work well with others too. If they can work with a complementary company in your industry and not be competitive, but collaborative, then you pretty much know you’ve got it cracked and they’ll be able to work well in any situation (most of the time anyway). So, expose your team to other teams, have them collaborate and see how much better it makes everyone involved, at their jobs.

Set Some Ground Rules

You might be a fun boss; a boss who lets your employees simply get on with it as long as they know what they’re doing and they always meet their deadlines, but if you have more than just the one employee, as fun a boss this makes you, it might not be the best idea. Why? Because when you don’t have any ground rules, it can unintentionally look like you’re playing favorites. If, for example, you let one employee work from home because you know they work more productively that way, but you don’t allow another to do the same because they didn’t exactly impress you that one time they worked remotely, well it could cause friction in the office, even though you have very good reasons for your decisions. So, set out some rules and stick to them fairly across the board if you want your team to be able to work in harmony.

Have a Purpose

It doesn’t matter how friendly your team is or how much they enjoy working together if they don’t have a common purpose; a specific goal which they need to reach, then having them work together isn’t going to do very much good at all. They’ll have no motivation and no clear direction, and that could so easily lead to either coasting or arguments. So, never have a team work together if there is no clear reason for them to do so.

Reward Their Work

Employees who are rewarded for their hard work are usually more productive and often much happier. However, a lot of businessmen and women fail to reward teams in the same way that they do individuals. If you want to be a good boss and ensure that the standard of teamwork in your office remains high, then reward everyone who worked on a project, no matter how little their role, so that they can all feel part of the same team and all be proud of their achievements.

Collaborative Space

Time to throw out the cubicles and make your space open plan. Why? Because when your employee s can always see each other, they’re more likely to all talk, add their input to a project and get together to work on ideas, which will result in a stronger team and better work.

Of course, you should still make provisions for quiet, private space for those who need it to do sensitive work or work that requires a little more concentration, just make sure that you provide both where possible.

Don’t Force the Issue

The benefits of teamwork are numerous, but one of the worst things you can do as a business owner, is force the issue. No matter how hard you try, there are always going to be those few individuals who do not respond to any of the above, and who would really rather work on their own. If they’re good employees who are polite and get the job done, then leave them be. Sure, talk to them to see if there are any issues causing them to shy away from the group, but if not accept that they’re the lone wolf type and leave them be unless you want to risk losing an employee or screwing with your team dynamics completely.

Time to start building your team!


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