Guest Author - Dianne Walker
Teamwork is all about mutual cooperation and respect. Whether you have two or twenty employees on staff, teamwork is the cornerstone that can either make or break your department. Teamwork not only improves the quality and efficiency of work, but the organization’s morale as well. So while certain tasks can be completed at the individual level, when efforts are combined into a team – the results are explosive.
If teamwork is missing in your department, here are some tips to take the “I” out of the word teamwork.
1 – Identify the common goal the team is trying to achieve. Remember that a team should always be striving toward a shared vision or common goal that brings them together as a cohesive unit. The lack of a shared goal will leave the team members floundering in a sea of uncertainty.
2 – Examine the team processes to determine how tasks are accomplished and information is gathered. If there is a way to complete a task that is more in line with helping the team to reach their goals, do not be afraid to make changes.
3 - Help team members to balance their own individual needs with that of the team. There may be times when an individual has a temporary issue. Help them to balance this need with those of the other team members. Remember that a team is a give and take situation. All members should be willing to be flexible when needed.
4 – Provide constant open and honest feedback on how the team is performing. This includes both the good and the bad. Sincere praise should be offered when the team meets or exceeds their goals. Constructive criticism should be given when problems appear.
5 – Develop a support system that not only provides clear, concise direction, but also offers rewards based on the team’s performance.
6 – Teach members to practice active listening. This includes paraphrasing and maintaining eye contact during a conversation. Miscommunication is often the result of inactive listening.
7 – If possible, design an office layout that is conducive to team members being comfortable, relaxed and able to interact with each other.
8 – Give everyone a chance to participate. Often times, the strongest or most outspoken team members have a tendency to forget that there are other players on the field. There may come a time when they may need to be encouraged to let other members of the team have a voice.
9 – Provide structure for the team, but not too much. Setting initial parameters will help the team to get started, then step back and allow the team to set norms, make decisions and even self evaluate.
10 – Constructive conflict is ok. If the conflict appears to be detrimental to the team, some interference may be needed. Conflict and debate, however, are often techniques that teams use in order to reach consensus, so no interference is required.
Team work is the result of quality efforts by team members. It also provides one of the greatest benefits by improving moral and increasing productivity in the workplace. Actively practicing teamwork will go a long way in improving any office environment.