Teamwork is often considered as one of the most important soft skills an employee should have. Managers praise their departments for their ability to work together and there is no doubt that departments with a sound culture of teamwork are more efficient and effective than departments consisting of individuals working on their own.
But what if your team consists of great individual workers, but you can't seem to get the level of synergy required and get them to work together as a real team? Here are a few tips on how to get your team to work together effectively.
1. Reward individual and team achievements
Employees need to stay motivated to give their best performance at work.
Managers trying to increase the level of team work and synergy taking place often change individual rewards to team rewards, e.g. you won't receive a bonus if you achieve your targets, but the whole of the team needs to reach the target. This can indeed improve team performance, as stronger employees might support weaker colleagues to achieve the overall targets.
On the other side, it can however be very demotivating for a hard working and successful employee, if he loses all his previous rewards due to some members of the time not pulling their weight.
A simple way to deal with this dilemma is to link some rewards to personal performance and other rewards to team performance. By using this approach, staff will remain motivated to perform to their best individual performance, as well as to work together to achieve team targets.
2. Implement team projects and challenges
If members of your team work very isolated, this is often because they have a set area of responsibility that requires little interaction and support of each other.
An easy way to create a visible need for teamwork is by allocating team projects, which are the responsibility of a number of team members and uses individuals' strengths.
Once your team gets used to work together and learns that utilising strengths and knowledge of others makes their life easier, teamwork will start to grow naturally within your team.
3. Create diversity
Employees who are doing the same work day in - day out, are getting rather self sufficient. They don't need help, they don't need each other.
One way to change this way of working is by creating team buddies, i.e. to allocate a partner to each member of the team who will learn the key tasks of their buddy. This way there will be a better understanding of individuals work load and responsibilities and at the same time you will be able to provide better holiday cover and support when individuals temporarily have an increased workload.
4. Lead by example
It is easy to say that your employees should start working in a team. But if you sit alone in your office all day, locked away from your team, you are setting the wrong example.
Therefore, if you want your colleagues to work together, lead by example. Show them that you don't know everything and need help and input from others.
Arrange regular team meetings where you use knowledge and skills from all team members to tackle inter- or cross-departmental challenges.
You will show your team how you would like them to work, that they can achieve more working this way and that they don't need to be afraid of this change.
- - -
Working as a team is important, but like with any change, staff needs to see the benefit of adapting to the requested change. By following above tips you will not only be able to implement a culture of teamwork quicker, but also reassure your staff at the same time, thus obtaining an effective, positive and motivated team.