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How to promote teamwork in the workplace

06 Apr

"We provide a collaborative work environment” is a statement you see on the majority of corporate brand pages, with “ability to work as part of a team” listed highly on the desirable skills section of job adverts. But how many businesses are actively striving to promote cohesive work practices?

Improving employee engagement and increasing productivity isn’t an easy task - the bigger your workforce, the more diverse the motivations for people coming to the office each day. Some do it for the money, some do it for the career opportunities and some do it just to get out of the house. Regardless of incentive, it’s safe to say that the majority of employees want to get on well with their colleagues. And as positive offices are more effective, it’s in every organisation’s best interests to encourage a supportive, harmonious environment.

Here are a few techniques that can be implemented to get people working better together.

Set up project teams designed to complete specific tasks

You shouldn’t have any shortage of volunteers for the Christmas Party Committee, but even the more mundane tasks that need completing can be approached in a project-based way to get people on board. For example, instead of dictating a clear desk policy, invite people to become a pivotal part of Operation Paperless.

These mini-projects are designed to have clear objectives and set up to quickly see tangible results. Everyone likes to see a task ticked off, and the momentum of lots of small wins helps everyone to feel part of a movement that’s heading in the same direction, which will really help when the bigger projects come around.

Make people aware of what others do - from bottom to top

Empathy is something that many people forget to consider in a work environment, and can often be the cause of a breakdown in team efficiency. Unless you’re aware of the various priorities, stresses and strains on a person (both personal and professional) how can you realistically work with them effectively?

The extreme version of achieving this is job swapping - as demonstrated in TV’s Undercover Boss - where those from the boardroom spend a few days on the shop floor or manning customer service lines to see what it’s like on the front line. For many companies that’s not a practical option, but there should be open and direct lines of communication across companies - teamwork should be considered as a company-wide issue, not just among those you share a bank of desks with.

Proposed changes can be discussed at regular employee forums, with feedback absorbed and concerns addressed to show everyone their opinions are valid and they’re valued as part of the bigger unit.

Use collaborative work tools

While email certainly isn’t dead, there are times where it’s not the optimal form of communication for modern workplaces. There are a variety of technological advancements that many businesses are adopting to diversify their communication channels, including Slack, HipChat and Teams.

The basic idea of these is that conversations can be more fluid, issues can be resolved quicker, and it’s easier to dip in and out of the various discussion topics depending on your need to be involved.

A report from PWC suggests that 50% of the global workforce will be millennials by 2020. These are people who have grown up with social media at their fingertips and maybe be more used to dealing in 140 characters than 140 words, so you should look to introduce processes which naturally get the best out of them.

Competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as it’s friendly

Forbes produced data suggesting that 88% of those now entering the workforce prefer a collaborative culture over a competitive one. This could be down to the fact that they’ve had to work so hard to secure a job, and the last thing they want to do when they have one is continually battle with their colleagues.

But the two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and arguably if there’s no competition, there’s little incentive to push yourself. Healthy competition is closely related to empowering individuals to take responsibility for team success - personal goals matter, but not as much as the overall target.

Rewarding teams when everyone reaches a certain level of performance allows them to collectively see the power of teamwork, helping share skills and experience across teams for everyone’s benefit.

Join the IFDS

Teamwork is important to us at IFDS, and we love creating an environment for our team members to thrive in. If you want to be part of the IFDS team, take a look at our current vacancies here.
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