A Culture of Teamwork

Business teamSimply put: Every successful organization has built a culture of teamwork.

Teams typically perform better than individuals working alone, particularly with regard to complex tasks that require multiple skills, judgments and experiences. The use of teams allows organizations to be flexible and responsive in changing environments. Research shows that empowering teams increases employee involvement, job satisfaction, morale, and workforce diversity.1 Here is an outline of some ways to build effective teams:

Emphasize cooperation.

We accomplish more when we work together to achieve common goals. This includes facilitating trust amongst your employees so that they know that they can rely on each other’s behaviors and intentions. So you must build the credibility of each individual team member by honing his or her skills, business sense, professionalism, honesty, respect, prudence, reliability, and offers of support.

You can do this by creating quarterly goals for your employees and ensuring that procedures and training are continuous learning exercises. Develop and promote your mission statement and vision, which should consider high levels of service and quality. Your employees should understand each functional role, and how they affect others in their own roles. As the manager, you should set a good example by doing what is right and exhibiting the same qualities that you wish to be forthcoming in your employees.

Strive for team cohesiveness.

You want your culture of teamwork to stress the necessity of “sticking together.” Think of your employees as a marching band – they work best when in sync. Motivate them with mutual accountability. Team members should feel mutually accountable to one another, not just you as the supervisor.

But you should also encourage your employees to talk over decisions, to debate freely, so as to avoid the counterproductive “groupthink” phenomenon. This is when members of the team, striving for unanimity, override their individual motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.2

Set performance goals and use feedback.

The only way to measure a team’s performance is to set SMART goals with accompanying periodic feedback to let the members know how they are doing in relation to these goals. You should also develop simple, clear job descriptions, which are communicated clearly. You may want to do this through the use of an employee handbook. People like to know the box around their jobs, because it helps them focus on the daily and long-term tasks. Communicate the end result you would like to see and then let your employees respond. Ask for feedback, and provide feedback. You should remember to listen more, and talk less. Adjust your message to fit each unique personality.

Establish appropriate roles.

Roles are expectations of how individuals should behave in a certain position. There are two types of roles: task roles, which focus on completing assigned tasks, and maintenance roles, which focus on fostering constructive relationships amongst team members.

Here are some more suggestions for improving team performance:

  • Populate the team with members possessing the appropriate skill sets for the task at hand.
  • Set challenging goals with clear deadlines.
  • Empower your teams by letting them figure out how to accomplish any assigned tasks.
  • Offer the appropriate tools, training and support that the team needs.
  • Incentivize.
  • Encourage socially and emotionally intelligent team behaviour.