Have you ever experienced a workplace where people didn’t work very well together?
You know the type; filled with a toxic mess of egos, glory hunters and backstabbers.
I know I have.
And you only have to experience that once to appreciate the value of a good team.
But good teamwork doesn’t happen by accident. As a manager, it’s down to you to foster the team spirit that will take your company to the next level.
So, how do you encourage teamwork in the office, without resorting to those outdated trust exercises where we all close our eyes and fall into each other’s arms?
1. Give everyone clear roles.
Confusion breeds chaos.
When you don’t give people clear responsibilities then there is a real risk that someone will try to seize power.
That can turn your team against each other.
So, make sure that everybody knows what they have to do in the workplace.
When you start a new project, give everybody involved a very clear job description and create a chain of command.
Play to their strengths, but also make sure you mix it up. Give junior members a chance to take ownership of a project and they might really surprise you!
2. Keep to clear, simple objectives.
A team can pull together, burn the midnight oil and overcome all kinds of obstacles, but only if they have clear and transparent goals and targets to hit.
Vagueness can cause issues as members will attempt to guess what they should be doing.
Doubt leads to insecurity and that can be the death of team spirit.
You need short-term and long-term goals, supported by Key Performance Indicators, for every part of your working life.
Hitting targets gives your team and the individual members, confidence that snowballs.
So, keep the targets realistic and build on your progress.
3. Give your team an active role in big decisions.
The buck stops with you and you have to make the final call.
But a team will be more invested if they had a say in the basic decisions and
Plus, a 2014 study proved that team members will be less committed if they don’t think their ideas have been listened to… So the answer is obvious.
Let your team get involved! Let them talk, listen to their ideas and incorporate the best concepts into each and every project.
4. Reward great performance.
Make sure you shine a light on great teamwork and even reward it.
When a team pulls through on a project, let the rest of the company know about it.
Don’t go overboard, but show them that this is what great teamwork looks like and that it doesn’t go unnoticed. This will (obviously) encourage teamwork in the future!
You can even give them a small bonus, or an extra day off.
5. Push social activities.
Your team will probably get on a lot better if they get to know each other outside of work.
This gives them the opportunity to build a bond that you just can’t quite mimic in the office.
It can be something as simple as an after-work drink, or you can take your team out for the day.
The point is to have some fun and build relationships that don’t simply revolve around work.
Then, when the chips are down, they’ll support each other that little bit more.
6. Deal with problems as they arise.
Pretty much every single workplace in this country has problems.
It can be a petty clash of personalities, or it can be something more serious like one member of a team sinking an entire ship.
Let these problems fester and they can get out of control. They don’t always sort themselves out.
So, make sure your employees know that they can raise issues with you and then make sure you deal with them in a professional, calm way.
Call everyone involved to a meeting, outline the problem and then let them all have their say. You can solve most of your problems with simple communication and just listening to your staff can strengthen the bond on its own.
7. Hold individuals accountable.
Nobody wants to be the bad guy, but if your team see you giving a member of staff an easy ride when they’re not doing their job then it can destroy your team spirit.
A 2012 study revealed that 46% of managers simply don’t hold their staff accountable and that doesn’t do anybody any favours in the long run.
8. Team building games.
Yes, we know. Retreats have become a bad joke and your employees don’t necessarily want to spend days building rafts in the Lake District… (Although that sounds fun to me)!
But there are a lot of team building games that you can do in your office.
Some of them take less than 10 minutes and they can provide some light relief, as well as having a positive impact on your team.
They’re free, they’re readily available and you really don’t have anything to lose.
Teamwork is everything in the modern workplace and it starts with you.
So, keep your communication clear, make sure everybody knows their role and reward them when they get it right.
Sounds simple – and it is!