Without good old-fashioned teamwork, most of today’s top-selling businesses wouldn’t be here to ride the waves of success. Many studies show the power of collaboration and how it can produce a healthy work environment, happy workers, and positive results for businesses.
What are the benefits of teamwork?
An environment with clear and open communication can rapidly produce successful results, no matter the industry. Teamwork involves the active sharing and discussion of information and ideas, and includes many points of view. Team members will all learn from each other and discover new ways of thinking through projects.
Here are some tips for achieving better group communication:
- Focus on the behavior or problem, not on the person. People become defensive when criticized personally. Keep the discussion focused on the task and the issues.
- Make sure what you say and what you do have the same message. In other words, keep your verbal and nonverbal language on the same page. This limits confusion.
- Validate others’ contributions. Compliment team members on good ideas and suggestions. This makes them feel a part of the team and encourages future participation.
- Give everyone a chance to speak. Build trust with your employees and gain insight through team meetings and breakout sessions. Interact with team members regularly and uplift their voices and ideas on projects.
Lean structure over hierarchy
A natural organizational benefit of teams is the lean structure that it produces. It cuts down on middle management and leads to greater freedom, innovation and progress. This is not to say that middle managers are useless. In fact, as Google learned the hard way in 2002, middle managers can be crucial to a company’s organizational success.
However, within a division, depending on the overall hierarchical setup, a team that is given the freedom to create and operate is likely to succeed. A team with relatively equal voices is now a crucial element to successful business practices.
Here are some benefits your team can reap from lean methods:
- More efficiency. The lean mindset seeks to eliminate wasteful procedures so workers can achieve more productivity and increase customer satisfaction. Value-stream mapping is a technique many teams use to track every step of the product development process, from starting point to delivery. This helps them visualize what may or may not provide value.
- Fewer bottlenecks. Bottlenecks are hindrances to any organization’s overall workflow, preventing the achievement of deadlines and any sense of productivity. Lean methods mean teams share their work equally, ensuring tasks are completed in a timely manner. Brainstorming and problem-solving prepare for or prevent any business disruptions.
- Lower costs. With lean practices, a company can save money and add value by eliminating waste in the form of overproduction, overhiring or the accumulation of bottlenecks in the production process.
- A mindset of continuous improvement. Lean methodology promotes the constant improvement of teamwork and business practices within large or small organizations. Workers should offer and receive feedback from top to bottom so they can improve products and accelerate innovation.
Remote employees work four more hours weekly and miss fewer workdays than in-office staff overall, according to an Airtasker study. You can adopt a lean mindset by offering the option of remote work for your employees.
A team is ripe to provide emotional support, as it involves many colleagues working together, either alongside each other or in constant communication. Emotional support can mean avoiding overly harsh critiques when discussing one’s work, or checking in to ask how a fellow team member is coping.
Emotional and psychological support can even go beyond the workplace, which may have a reciprocal effect. For example, sending an office card is a simple and office-appropriate way to provide quick support to a fellow employee. This team-related notion of emotional support leads to a much deeper exploration of workplace happiness and its benefits.
Though you might assume that competition leads to infighting, credit-hogging, and blaming, the opposite is true when a workplace encourages positive competition. Teamwork can rapidly increase competitiveness in the following ways:
- It improves overall productivity.
- It increases the quality of work and subsequently encourages innovation.
- It raises employee motivation and commitment.
- It provides recognition for improved work.
Here are some tips for setting up friendly workplace competitions.
- Set realistic goals. The whole point is to motivate your employees, not overwhelm them. You don’t want to set goals too low either, as this probably won’t inspire your workers to improve. Effective goals are attainable for the ones who work hard and drive your employees to achieve success. [Follow these tips for setting better business goals.]
- Make the objectives clear. All participants should know the goals they want to reach and the objectives of the competition. Checking in throughout the contests will allow you to gauge your employees’ interest levels and offer encouragement.
- Center competitions on shared objectives. Inform your team how they can benefit from the competition – both personally and professionally – to motivate them to do their best.
- Offer prizes and incentives. As people say, “What’s in it for me?” Prizes and potential rewards usually inspire teams to strive for their best. For example, you could offer extra vacation time, free lunches, later or earlier start times at work, and bonus cash prizes.
Synergy is the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their parts. Synergy can look like many things in the workplace, but it typically involves the benefits of teams sharing their competencies and capacities.
When colleagues don’t work together, it’s easy to see the devastating effect a lack of synergy can have on teamwork. But when synergy is present, productivity will be high. Responses from other workers are more clear-cut, business goals are better understood, collaboration increases, and problems are solved because everyone feels motivated as they put their heads together.
Your business can benefit from synergy when your team members have diverse skills and backgrounds as well. When developing a product, you don’t just need marketers – you need additional professionals such as copywriters, analysts, and specialty research and development workers.
When everyone brings their own special skills and perspectives to the table, the result is improved workflow, an increase of transformative ideas and a more refined product by the hands of numerous critical thinkers.
Synergy is a high-level use of resources that help companies better adapt to or survive the ever-evolving business market. The result of synergy from acquisitions is often analyzed from the standpoint of financial growth through stocks, profits, investments, and other forms of creation of value or return on investment. This is not only beneficial for the companies that do the acquiring, but also for their stockholders.
How to encourage teamwork among remote employees
It’s fair to say that the enthusiasm for working from home has probably never been higher. Not only is flexibility a plus, but home workers are also seeing they’re able to get more work done remotely than they previously thought possible. In fact, the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago surveyed 10,000 employees who said that they felt just as productive working remotely as they did working from the office. Of those surveyed, 30% said that they felt more focused and productive at home.
Zoom is a great video conferencing app for remote work, as it can merge with other productivity tools for email management and scheduling. It also has teamwork features such as screen sharing, session recording and commentary.
Here’s how to get your remote workers to collaborate effectively.
1. Personalize work structures for remote workers.
Some workers strictly adhere to a routine, while others are more laid back. Instead of treating all your remote workers the same way as your in-office workers, personalize work structures, objectives, and outcomes to fit each person.
2. Be clear about availability factors for remote work.
Set timelines for meetings and general hours to talk, email and submit work for deadlines. Be careful not to blur the lines between productively working at home and overworking past a normal workday schedule. Be just as fair to remote workers as you are to in-office workers. [Read more about flexible work schedules.]
3. Supply your team with communication tech tools.
If you want your remote team to never skip a beat, supply them with all the tools they’ll need to be successful. Technology facilitates their progress by connecting them with customers, retailers and colleagues from a remote location. Video conferencing tools can improve nonverbal communication, and online chat programs provide a less intimidating way to talk.
4. Set up check-ins and meetings.
By checking in every day with your remote team through video calls and meetings, you’ll reinforce a notion of collaboration and support. Workers will begin to see it as casual instead of formal, forging a sense of togetherness and enhancing team camaraderie. Teamwork over video conferencing should also be encouraged, similar to how it would be in person.
How to encourage teamwork for those who prefer independent work
1. Hand out clear assignments.
When you clearly designate roles and responsibilities to each of your team members, you can avoid confusion and the risk of someone trying to take full control. When dealing with new projects, give both seasoned and new professionals a chance to work on something fresh.
2. Stick to simple objectives.
When assigning special projects or work to be completed, make sure the goals of these assignments aren’t ambiguous, as this can cause some team members to doubt themselves and question their work. Instead, set short-term and long-term goals to motivate the whole team to work together.
Tip: The A-players of a team tend to garner all the praise, but your B-players bring a lot to the table too. Reward those workers when they make improvements, and you’ll see their motivation grow.
3. Give opportunities to make big decisions.
Give everyone on the team a chance to involve themselves in projects that demand thinking outside of the box and collaboration. Let everyone pitch in with their ideas, let them know you’re taking them into consideration, and integrate the concepts into your final say. This will cause team members to feel more invested and motivated as they come together to create solutions.
4. Reward workers for their performance.
Never hesitate to reward your employees for a job well done. When your workers complete a project to high standards or above and beyond expectations, bring that to the attention of the company as a whole. Congratulate your workers formally by letting everyone in the office know the results their exceptional teamwork produced.
You should also cheer your team on informally through social messaging mediums where you can post fun emojis along with your tribute, especially if you’re rewarding remote workers. This will encourage and reinforce the importance of teamwork in the workplace. It may even convince independent workers to switch their approach to work more closely with others.
Shlomo Wiesen contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.