Great teamwork is essential for surviving, thriving, and being exceptional in the modern workplace. It’s impossible for a team to innovate, stand out, or add superior value without superior teamwork skills. Individual talent just isn’t enough. More than skill, subject-matter knowledge, or industry experience, organizations need workers who understand the principles of teamwork and how to apply them.
What Is Good Teamwork?
If you’re leading a team and want your team members to practice excellent teamwork, how would you define it for them or explain how to demonstrate it? What are the three most important things needed for effective teamwork in the workplace?
First, to be good at teamwork, employees should be able to put the team’s needs ahead of their own. Team members should demonstrate that they are dependable and learn to depend on others. That doesn’t mean individual team members give up their own work-related needs but that they adopt the team’s goals and care about them as their own.
Second, everyone on the team should be committed to the same clear objectives. Good teams don’t waste time or energy arguing about what their goals should be or promoting self-serving objectives.
Third, leaders and managers must focus the unique abilities of individual team members in different ways to accomplish the team’s overall goals. Team members should feel encouraged to use 100% of their talents within a master plan that promotes the good of the team and organization overall.
What Are the Skills of Great Team Players?
Even if employees understand the general attitudes of teamwork, they may still need instruction on the specific behaviors of effective teams. How do you demonstrate good teamwork skills? Managers and trainers could consider focusing on any of the following behaviors:
- Effective Communication: Teach employees how to be open with each other instead of holding back great ideas. Team members should be encouraged to share ideas with candor and respect, get to know each other personally, and genuinely listen.
- Efficient Systems: Each team should build their own routines that they follow consistently to coordinate and combine their efforts and finish team tasks on time.
- Delegation of Tasks: As teams get acquainted with the abilities of each member, team leaders will learn how to best split tasks between them.
- Brainstorming: Teach teams to allow members to state all their ideas—no matter how far-fetched they might seem—in an atmosphere of respect. Creativity and innovation start with employees who are unafraid of exploring and combining ideas of all kinds.
- Trust: Give teams time for trust to grow organically between members. Through repeated positive experiences, they will gain confidence that they can rely on each other.
As teams start to demonstrate these skills, an ambitious manager will want to see his team’s effectiveness grow.
How Does a Strong Leader Encourage Teamwork?
How can you accelerate this process? To help your team get better at teamwork, build mutual trust between members, and internalize teamwork skills, here are three practical tips:
1. Clarify Your Why
Sometimes, poor teamwork stems from a lack of shared purpose. To correct this, lead a meeting in which the team defines the reason behind its big goal or project, along with why each step in the process or incremental task is important and necessary.
As they take ownership of their work and come to an agreement about why the work matters, they should naturally begin to work together better.
2. Take Time to Practice Teamwork
Developing any skill takes practice, or repeated effort over time. Teamwork skills are often not practiced enough for them to become habits, and then employees don’t think to use them during crucial, stressful situations.
Pick team exercises in which employees can practice trust, brainstorming, delegation, and other teamwork skills, whether for 10 minutes or during a longer workshop or team meeting.
3. Rest Together
Between practicing teamwork and performing job duties, one other ingredient is needed for lessons to sink in: rest. Create time for team members to take breaks together. Let them chat, share donuts, or go on a walk. They could even discuss work during an informal activity. Just let them bond as regular people.
Teamwork Is the Missing Ingredient
When a team is not living up to the apparent potential of the individual team members, it may be because they haven’t yet learned how to work together as a coordinated unit. So how do you implement better teamwork? Often, awareness is the first step.
Individualistic team members simply may not know how to demonstrate teamwork in the workplace because they haven’t been taught how to work within a team. Lead a discussion about teamwork in a meeting. Ask them how great team members act, what type of team they’d want to be on, and whether they’d be willing to put in the work to improve.
All human beings desire excellence; they just need to be taught how to recognize it, shown they have the ability to seek it, and given the tools to achieve it. If you give your team these tools and time to practice, you can help them unlock the team’s full potential for innovation and success.