HR Consultant Lyndsey McLaughlin provides insight into why teamwork in the workplace is so important for your business.
Why is teamwork important in the workplace?
No matter how autonomous we are in the workplace, there is almost always a necessity to collaborate with other people. Everyone liaises with others as part of their day-to-day job; and the stronger these relationships are, the more successful the collaboration will be. Consequently, the business will be more successful. It is often challenging to manage teams, as you are dealing with a group of people with different personalities. The key to effective teamwork is ensuring that you have the right people in place, those that share the common goal of your business, and everyone is working together. There is no space for big egos or individuals trying to get others into trouble; it must be a positive experience for all.
What does good teamwork look like?
Good teamwork happens when everyone supports each other to reach a common goal—for example, speaking to colleagues in a positive, inclusive and friendly manner—offering support to colleagues when they need it, and being open and honest with communication. Individuals within a team should feel that they are included and valued and can be their true selves.
What are the benefits of good teamwork in the workplace?
The ultimate goal for any business owner or HR director is that their team works together, and the goals are achieved without too much input needed. As Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, said, "one person never does great things in business. A team of people does them.” Conflict within a team can often make individuals feel alienated and deflated, and it can seriously impact their productivity. Conversely, when employees are happy and feel valued within their team, they are more likely to be productive in work teams.
Working in a team should never be about who is better than someone else; it should be an opportunity to learn from each other. Therefore, communication is so important within a team. As a manager or business owner, if you have someone who isn't performing as well as others, take time to train them on their shortfalls and be open about any mistakes. Allow them the opportunity to learn from each other as, after all, we all have different skills and capabilities.
According to a report by Gallup, only 21% of the workplace is engaged, with Europe being one of the worst culprits for low engagement in the workplace. Individuals need human contact and support to be able to thrive in their job. When you have a team who cares about each other, offers support, and can discuss their issues, you have a strong team. If someone is sitting feeling isolated and unable to speak up about their feelings, they will ultimately end up disengaged. When this happens with more than one team member, it can cause significant issues. Good teamwork will improve engagement in your business and increase your success.
When you bring different people together, you have more ideas and other experiences to share. Ultimately, this only happens if the individuals feel comfortable sharing their ideas. If you have good teamwork within your business, you will usually have greater creativity.
How employers can encourage better teamwork
No matter how strained relationships are in the workplace, employers can always take steps to encourage better teamwork. The best teamwork practices are critical to a happy and positive working environment. These are some things you can do to promote a stronger team.
Encourage positive language
If you pick up on a team member talking negatively to their colleagues, it is crucial to discourage this as quickly as possible. If one team member speaks unacceptably to others, it can lead to a hostile culture. Instead, make sure your team is using positive language towards each other. It is never too late for a team culture to be changed.
If team members don't have any reason to speak to each other – they probably won't. Employers can encourage better teamwork by giving team members tasks to do together. Providing them with projects to do together will allow them to build their relationships.
One of the worst things you can do to a team is micromanaging them. It leads to paranoia, restlessness, and a feeling of uncertainty. Employees want to have a sense of autonomy, and when this is encouraged, it will help them to work more successfully as a team.
Ask for feedback
Make sure you ask your team for feedback on how they are and what you can do to enhance their experience at work. For example, if one person is unhappy and feels negative, this could soon filter through to the rest of the team. Therefore, seeking feedback as often as possible is advisable, as this will help you improve employee engagement.
A happy team will help enhance the culture of your business and, therefore, your overall success. It is particularly important for SMEs where there is more visibility within teams.
Written by Lyndsey McLaughlin
Lyndsey McLaughlin is a CIPD qualified HR consultant and recruitment professional who specialises in HR advice and writing about a range of business and staff management topics for employers and managers.