Unless you’re outstandingly lucky (or you work with a task force who swings into action every time you have a crisis), you know that crafting an A-league team doesn’t happen overnight.
In fact, as the very title suggests, “fostering” effective teamwork takes time, nurturing, and skillful use of the correct strategies to promote sustainable growth.
As John Paul Sartre famously articulated “only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat,” a synchronized team can mean the difference between sink or swim for your company.
But before you begin to build your dream team to work like a well-oiled machine even when you’re not around, make sure you incorporate these strategies to foster effective teamwork at your workplace.
1. Be Clear About Your Goals
First and foremost, to create effective teamwork you need everyone to be on the same page to move the company forward towards common goals.
Your team needs to know what your business’s goals are and its purpose in helping the wheels of commerce turn.
Where are you headed? What are you looking to achieve?
People need to know why they’re doing what they’re doing, so that their jobs don’t become a monotonous set of tasks they carry out each day, but part of the vehicle responsible for driving expansion and change.
2. Correctly Define The Roles
Within the team, make sure that everyone knows their position and how they contribute to the team (and company) as a whole.
Be specific. Avoid generalities.
If someone’s role on the marketing team is to build alliances, don’t just tell them they need to concentrate on outreach.
Quantify their tasks by adding targets, such as 30 new contacts a day, or five backlinks per week.
If another team member’s role is to increase your company’s SERP, make sure their duties are defined, and that they understand how and when to coordinate with the right team members to enhance your SEO collectively.
3. A Little Passion Goes a Long Way
What are your core values?
What do you believe in?
What do you really care about that made you work so hard to get here and gets you going in the morning?
At the root of any business, there has to be passion. And if you don’t love what you do and stay passionate about it; it’s hard to transmit that enthusiasm to your employees.
If you have a strong corporate culture, try to hire like-minded people who want to work for the same cause.
Whether it’s languages that light your fire, or health and fitness, or digital communications; people who are invested in your company’s cause will be far more likely to be invested in your company, and if you build a team of like-minded people, you’ve already won half the battle.
4. Make Everyone Accountable
Now that everyone is very clear on the role that they play in the team, make them accountable for their tasks.
A sense of responsibility not only adds extra impulse to work harder and with more dedication, but if other team members can see when targets are missed, or if someone isn’t pulling their weight, then it will motivate employees to complete objectives.
Set deadlines, host meetings, offer incentives; whatever it is you need to make your employees accountable for their tasks and give them a sense of achievement when they complete them successfully.
5. Let Your Employees Work
It can be hard to delegate tasks when it comes to your own company, or if you’ve been used to doing everything yourself.
But here’s the thing; you can’t be in charge of everything and you hired employees to do jobs for you.
So make sure that you delegate work.Give them a challenge and watch how they pull together as a team to complete it. And most importantly of all; let them do their jobs.
If executing a campaign is assigned to employee X, for example, then communicate that fact to the rest of the team and let them go ahead and work.
Your involvement here has ended.
Don’t be a seagull manager who swoops in, craps over everything and then flaps out again, leaving everyone disgruntled and confused.
There’s no better way to destabilize a team than by trying to micro-manage it, or butting into projects that are only half complete.
6. Advocate Open Communication
Whether you manage a small team who meet regularly in the same office, or you own a company whose employees are dispersed over vast geographic regions, time zones, cultures and work ethics; whatever your situation, be sure to advocate open communication.
Let your employees know that they’re working in an environment that fosters and appreciates their opinions.
Don’t get set in the same ways because that’s how things have always been; while you want your team to run smoothly, you also need to make sure you aren’t quashing innovation.
7. Maintain Professionalism
It’s likely that your team will be made up of people from diverse cultures and beliefs.
And even if this isn’t the case, they’ll all have different personalities and tastes.
While it’s become commonplace (and sometimes necessary) to use emojis to communicate your intent behind written words; be careful about your use of humor.
It’s great to share a joke from time to time, as long as it’s not at the expense of,and doesn’t offend another team member.
And while you want your team to get along and enjoy coming to work, don’t let your standards of professionalism to slip, even on internal emails.
It’s important to maintain a professional tone, as the way they write and speak to each other will reflect in their communication with clients.
8.Building Trust is a Two-Way Street
Building trust can be particularly hard if you have employees working on different shifts from you, working from home or carrying out tasks that you don’t understand and find hard to quantify.
But learning to trust that your employees are working when you aren’t is vital. And the results will reflect in their work and their peer reviews.
Remember that trust is a two-way street though, and it’s important to makeyour employees feel secure and valued.
Effective teamwork – effective work, in fact – is rarely carried out by an employee who isn’t sure if they’ll have a job when they come in tomorrow.
9. A Sense of Belonging is Important
There are a million tips and tricks and (in my opinion) ridiculous ideas about how to create a sense of belonging.
But if you must decide to opt for the same color T-shirts or a team bonding weekend away; there are also other better, deeper ways to create a sense of belonging that don’t involve Hawaiian Shirt days.
Letting your employees know that you care about them and that they have a job for the long term is a good start.
Taking their own personal career goals into account and molding positions to fit their skills and abilities as they progress will also make them feel that they’re a name and not just a number.
Celebrate their work anniversaries and show them that you remember their birthdays, important dates, and key achievements.
10. Give Credit Where It’s Due
Remember the teacher at school who always seemed to blame you for everything even when you weren’t guilty?
Or, who rewarded your class mate for something you that said or did?
Be sure to give credit where it’s due, as far as you possibly can.
Also, it’s only natural that some members of the team will stand out above the rest.
You’ll see leaders emerge and roles develop according to each person’s skills. But remember that while the large contracts are super important, the person who got the signature, isn’t always the only one involved.
So don’t just give credit to the big players. Spread the appreciation and the love to avoid breeding resentment.
11. Make Use Of Technology
Whether your team works remotely online, or in a physical office, try out and utilize the right technology for you.
While some companies may thrive(and depend on) having Skype open during work hours, others may find it a distraction.
There are tons of projection management tools out there to use, such as Trello, Slack, Asana, and even Google docs that allow you to see the state of a project in real time, and team member comments, so that everyone can see each other’s contributions.
12. Remember Who’s The Boss
I’m sorry to break this to you, but you’ll never be friends with your employees.
You may think you are, but your friendship will never be on an even keel when you’re paying someone to spend time with you.
So don’t try to be just another member of the team. Not only will you lose respect, but you’ll also lose authority.
If you can’t allow your team to function without you while you focus on the things that are most important to you; such as building alliances, branching out into different continents, or even just playing golf, or catching up on sleep, then remember that you’re the boss.
And, it’s good for the team to work independently.
13. Share in Your Success
If you really want a loyal team that is equally invested in the good of your company and works effectively and with passion, then you need to share in your success.
This means that as the company grows and wins more contracts off the back of your spectacular, effective teamwork, then you need to routinely share the success.
Give incentives, award bonuses, grant pay rises, talk about percentages; a pat on the back goes a long way, but a check in the hand goes further.
What do you think is most effective when it comes to fostering team work in a workplace? Write in the comments below.