Teamwork makes the dream work. 

Whilst that’s a catchphrase you’d more likely see on David Brent’s wall than coming from the mouth of an industry leader, we can’t deny it resonates just a little. Because if we pull together in the same direction, it’s better for all of us. Hang on, that one actually is from the Office. 

But let’s be serious for a minute; teamwork at the workplace has a much broader implication than getting a project done on time without succumbing to the urge of punching your coworker or nipping off to the pub with them for a cheeky few. A trusting and supportive relationship between employees fosters loyalty, improves productivity and encourages them to align their efforts to achieve a common goal. Working with a team is not much different from being a part of a Champions League winning football cub. It gives employees a sense of belongingness and therefore solidifies their commitment towards the organisation as a whole. 

Every employee possesses a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. As an organisation, you can bank on this diversity by promoting teamwork and collaboration. Here’s how to do just that; our 8 IDEAL ways to inspire teamwork and collaboration in your organisation. 

COMMUNICATE WITH CLARITY

As a team leader, every member of your group should be clear about their specific roles and responsibilities. Treat every moment that a colleague wonders what they should be doing next as a moment wasted, and a failure on your part. 

Make sure you communicate with complete clarity and precision; if you articulate your intentions using management speak, don’t expect fast and efficient outcomes. Encourage a ‘thought shower’ and don’t be surprised if your colleagues return to the office with wet hair and dampened ideas.

By providing constant guidance and clear instruction, you can ensure your employees work to their full potential together. 

CONDUCT TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES

Initially, employees may be hesitant to freely express their ideas and collaborate with coworkers they barely know, particularly in the faux-familiarity of the office’s confines. Do your bit; you can help break the ice by organising some team building activities. 

Give employees an opportunity to step out of the work setting and get to know each other in a more informal, fun environment. This will foster creativity and cultivate a more open way of working in the long run. From clay pigeon shooting to Tug-o-War, such activities can do wonders for improving teamwork.

A ROBUST ONBOARDING PROCESS

When you hire an employee, a robust onboarding process is critical to make the new employee feel a part of the team, both in terms of helping them feel comfortable to ask questions and give input, and in sharing knowledge of the mechanisms of the office’s everyday. This shouldn’t be carried out informally and spontaneously; that would be unprofessional and alienating. Instead, have a dedicated process in place which gets new staff up to speed, speedily. 

Once onboard and as employees progress throughout the organisation, it’s essential you continue to nurture, mentor and encourage professional development. That is one of your key duties as a leader, and will ultimately inspire greater collaboration from your staff.

UPGRADE OFFICE SPACE

An office with compact cubicles is not the best inoculator of fresh ideas, and certainly doesn’t encourage collaboration. Sure, in the current climate, some safe distance between work stations is required, but if you want employees to approach each other with new perspectives to share and work together without mental (as well as physical) barriers, then some sort of collaborative workspace is indispensable. 

An open-floor layout works well for teamwork and easy interaction, and can still adhere to new COVID related social distancing measures. 

DE-ESCALATE DISAGREEMENTS

No two employees are the same, and disagreements are bound to happen when people are working together. Indeed, a little friendly friction can actually have a positive impact on productivity. That said, as a leader, it’s your job to help employees de-escalate disagreements and help them find ways to arrive at a compromise. A harmonious office is somewhere people look forward to being, and you couldn’t ask for more than that, right?

And no, this doesn’t mean the ol’ playground ”you both have to shake hands now” carry on. Instead, your company should have guidelines in place and on paper for conflict resolution at work.

PROMOTE AUTONOMY

Guidelines – even rules – are essential to keep a team on the right track and focused on the price, but micromanaging can make employees feel restricted. Offer autonomy and independence to employees to figure things out on their own and come up with creative solutions and you’ll find you have both a happier team and one which arrives at better outcomes, too. 

IMPLEMENT USEFUL TOOLS

Conducting a face-to-face meeting to discuss matters most trivial is a waste of the company time and interrupts employees’ workflow. It’s also one of the top pet hates of employees regarding their work, as too many meetings stifle productivity and morale. 

Instead of a meeting, harness the power of technology at every turn, and implement various virtual tools such as instant messaging and video conferencing to keep the team connected. Slack, Trello, Google Meeting, Flowdock and of course, Zoom are some popular collaborative platforms.

PEER FEEDBACK

Employees who work closely together should be encouraged to give each other feedback. Nope, we don’t mean demoralising ratings and a constant stream of criticism; christ, we couldn’t think of anything worse! But by encouraging colleagues to praise exceptional work, they can help each other minimise mistakes and produce better overall results. 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Nurturing a culture of collaboration takes time and work; hey, what good thing ever came easy? But doing so is essential for the steady growth of an organisation. Prioritising teamwork in your workplace will bring out the best in individual employees as well as allowing the company as a whole reach its full potential.