“Two heads are better than one,” the old saying goes. And according to research, this could be true.
A study published in 2015 showed that collective intelligence mainly depends on two factors: social perceptiveness (which is the ability to read emotions and reactions) and diversity. Interestingly enough, individual intelligence can, but doesn’t necessarily impact a team’s performance on cognitive tests. For team managers and leaders, this is invaluable information.
If we apply these findings to the workplace, it becomes obvious that the talents of each employee can contribute to the quality of the output. However, the group’s ability to work together will have a bigger impact.
So how do you improve teamwork in the workplace? Here are the top tips and strategies to implement.
Know the importance of leadership
When it comes to team management, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting people to work well together. But, anyone with at least a bit of experience will tell you that’s not how things operate.
To achieve teamwork, leaders must be aware of their role in managing team dynamics. The relationships a team develops will, in large, depend on the manager’s behavior, which is why there are a few ground rules for improving teamwork at the office.
1. Lead by example
It’s not uncommon that managers say and demand one thing, then go and undermine their goals by doing the exact opposite. So, if your objective is to improve teamwork in your company, you might have to make a few changes in how you behave. Be mindful of how you act, approach your dilemmas with integrity, and don’t forget that consistency is just as important as setting an example.
2. Give up complete control
The simple fact is, you cannot influence how people do something. Your knowledge and experience regarding a process may have taught you the best way for you to approach a task. Nonetheless, it’s still important that you’re aware of the fact that everyone is different.
What works for you may not yield the same positive results for your colleagues. And micromanaging their work process could, potentially, do more damage than good.
So, as a team manager, try to only take on the tasks that have to be done by you. Instead of controlling every aspect of a job, focus instead on culture, and make good use of project management tools that will make your life much easier (and your presence bearable to your coworkers).
3. Know how to offer (and receive) feedback
The reason why great teams work better than individuals is that they offer the opportunity to receive quality feedback throughout the work process. Yet not everyone is good at giving constructive criticism. And even fewer people are good at receiving it.
So, if your objective is to boost teamwork, start with the basics: communication. When giving feedback, be clear, offer actionable advice, and don’t forget the importance of pointing out the positive aspects of someone’s work. If you’re on the receiving end, work on adopting a growth mindset. While your results might not be ideal, recognize your potential to rise to a challenge.
How common goals facilitate teamwork
If you think about teamwork in a sports setting, you’ll find that the thing driving a group of people will always be a common goal: to win. And though the concept of victory might not translate into the workplace as easily, the principle remains the same.
To get a group of people to work together effectively, you must set clear goals that are achievable with the resources you have provided. In addition to this, your employees also need to know what is expected of them. Expectations include both responsibilities and rules.
For example, if you’re developing a new product, you will need to communicate the following:
- What is it exactly that the product should do?
- What tools do your team members have at their disposal?
- How much time do they have to complete the project?
- What is each individual’s role in accomplishing the goal?
In terms of team management, the biggest challenge will be keeping track of exactly how each team member is contributing to the result. That’s why, in addition to setting goals, you also need to develop a system that will allow you to follow and measure your team’s success.
There are different ways of keeping track of performance:
- Use software solutions that will provide you with information on how much time is being spent on each project.
- Implement daily and weekly check-ins, both with the entire team as well as individual members. This type of engagement will allow you to address any concerns on time, and to have better insight into how you can support your employees.
- Alternatively, you can ask for feedback through digital management tools or simple add-ons to the programs you’re already likely to use to communicate. Make sure you’re ready to receive the feedback and act on it in a way that will improve overall job satisfaction.
One of the most common reasons for poor teamwork in the workplace is a lack of trust. It’s quite simple: if we’re unsure whether our colleagues are capable of completing a task, we might be tempted to either take over or “wash our hands” and remove ourselves from the equation to protect ourselves.
This is why, in team management, developing trust is so important. If we want to create a culture in which workers can thrive and rise to their full potential, we must first allow them to feel safe throughout this journey. This means the ability to make mistakes without fear of retribution, the freedom of expressing their opinions, and the knowledge that they’re valued as human beings, not just cogs in a machine.
Of course, these are all things that take months, even years to establish. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start right away.
1. Investing in team building
The easiest (and most entertaining) way to encourage team collaboration (and consequently trust) is to organize fun team building activities where everyone can collaborate in a non-work setting. Whether you go with sports, escape rooms, or social games that allow people to get to know each other better, you’ll definitely see the positive results in terms of teamwork.
2. Encouraging effective communication
You’re already aware of the importance of feedback, but that’s not the only type of communication you should aim to improve. On the whole, you’ll want team members to truly listen to one another, be precise in what they’re trying to say, and feel comfortable enough to express their thoughts.
3. Addressing problems as they arise
Finally, don’t give in to the temptation of sweeping problems under the rug – even if it’s an easier way to deal with them. Small misunderstandings can often grow into teamwork obstacles, so make sure that you get them out of the way as soon as they rear their heads.
Furthermore, if you feel that someone is doing an inadequate job, make sure to take it up with them, as they may be dealing with struggles you need to be aware of.
Keep your eye on the prize, but stay true to your values
Whether your goal is to get a workforce that’s more productive or simply want to build a better culture at your company, teamwork will play a significant part in attaining your goals. Nonetheless, don’t forget that it starts with you and how you approach team management.
So make sure that you take an objective look at each aspect of your team’s performance, and see whether there’s room for improvement. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that some areas still need work – in fact, it’s the sign of a great leader when one can admit to, and work on their weaknesses. So why not get started right away?