Ways to Encourage Teamwork in the Workplace
Written By: Mary-Devon Dupuy
When it comes to teamwork, you can learn a lot about a person from how they handled group projects when they were in school. One student wants to take the lead and steamroll over their classmates. Another student is happy to work with everyone, and isn’t eager to be in the spotlight. Unfortunately, there is always the student that lets the team carry the bulk of the work, only to unfairly receive the same grade at the end. In offices, there are no A’s or B’s doled out for group work, but teamwork still is crucial for overall success.
Why Teamwork Matters
Developing teamwork at work is critical for productivity, as well as reducing redundancies in people’s workloads. When everyone in an office is on the same page, everything runs more efficiently. Furthermore, workers are less likely to feel overwhelmed by their work when they know they can lean on teammates and negotiate tasks based on their current assignments.
Measures to keep an office as close to stress-free as possible are better for your bottom line, and there’s science to prove it. According to the American Psychological Association, stress negatively impacts overall employee health. Even the most dedicated employees suffer from burnout; it’s simply a physical and mental reaction to being overworked. Before anyone gets to the point of fainting or calling in sick, the quality of their work rapidly diminishes as their cognitive abilities get duller and duller.
How to Promote Teamwork
There are many ways to encourage teamwork in the workplace. Some companies demand it. Decisions occur at round tables, ideas are born in brainstorming sessions, and projects are passed from cubicle to cubicle until they are ready to be evaluated and given finishing touches. However, there are other environments in which teamwork is less organic. In those places, it’s the leader’s job to encourage her employees to come together, and to share workloads and ideas.
Some ways to promote teamwork include encouraging employees to get to know each other on a professional level through team building activities for employee engagement. Build in time for employees to connect through after work and weekend activities, as well as carving out time during work when coworkers need to interact with each other. Incentivize teamwork by offering free food. Coworkers may stay in the office for the free pizza at first, but they’ll eventually get better acquainted with each other. Once employees know each other, they will feel more comfortable asking for help, offering criticism, and participating in conversations about projects moving forward.
Strategies to Promote Teamwork
Leading by example is a huge part of team work. If you’re openly stubborn and uncompromising as a manager, your employees will likely follow suit. Therefore, successful teamwork in your office depends on you showing your employees that you listen and encourage dialogue.
Employee recognition is a great way to motivate people to do better as individuals who are part of a team. Make sure to give praise and appreciate performance. No one gets a bonus for being opportunistic. Make sure that people receiving rewards for their behavior are the ones exemplifying teamwork.
Encouraging dialogue means opening up doors for team members to criticize each other. Inevitably, employees will cross lines and upset each other along the way. This is a natural part of open communication. Conflict is not necessarily bad, as long as everyone involved is able to maintain a level of respect and decorum while they reach a mutual conclusion. Be involved enough to discern whether employees are bullying each other, or building together.
Weekly meetings are another great solution to a lack of team activity. People will get discouraged at first, especially those who strongly prefer to zone into their work and tune out the world around them. However, it’s crucial for people to know who’s doing what, especially when one person’s progress depends on another person completing a project, or a piece of one. Teamwork begins with communication, and that needs to be built into employees schedules every day.
Teamwork in the Workplace Examples
Proactive and ongoing teamwork requires employees to make communication, and openness, a priority. Vacations are mapped out far enough in advance that they shouldn’t be too difficult to work around when a team member is absent. Unforeseen medical and/or family emergencies are a different battle entirely, as they usually pull an integral member of your team away unexpectedly. Such an occurrence is far less detrimental to your team’s overall productivity when everyone is knowledgable about what others’ workloads look like. Swap assignments, stay up to date, and be ready to split a team member’s work up to knock out a project by deadline.
How Would You Promote Teamwork?
Don’t underestimate the importance of effective teamwork in the workplace. If you see that there is no teamwork at work, take steps to promote it. Are we missing some good teamwork ideas? Let us know your favorite ways of developing teamwork in the workplace!
Mary-Devon Dupuy is First Impression Liason for Acrew and a local comedian in New Orleans.