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Teamwork: how to make it work

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There’s something to be said for a team operating in the “zone” – when work is effortless, supportive, constructive, and incredibly satisfying. In this article, we’re looking at why teamwork matters and how to encourage it.

Why is teamwork important in the workplace?

A healthy team provides benefits for everyone - for individuals, our organization, and society as a whole:

  • When you’re seen as a contributing member of a team it gives you the feeling of being appreciated. This derives intangible benefits such as feelings of self-worth, happiness, and contentment.

  • Our organization also benefits from high productivity that teamwork delivers. It also means we’re interacting more, which helps work get done efficiently and stimulates innovation.

  • Society gains a tremendous boost by having healthy people and corporations contributing their time and energy to the greater good through volunteerism, community events, and building supportive infrastructure.

How to enable teamwork in the workplace

Teamwork doesn’t happen on its own. It needs to become part of workplace culture, people, and processes. Once that happens, work becomes more fun, productive, and creative!

Here are seven ways to enable teamwork in the workplace. It doesn’t all start from the top - there’s something for everyone!

Divide up the work

Teamwork doesn’t mean everyone does everything together. It requires getting organized and breaking each project down into its component parts. Then sorting out who will do what, according to their expertise, interest, and availability. A good project manager will help with this, but if not just head to the whiteboard as a group.

Ask for help

Getting work done requires time to focus on your own task, and the option to draw on others when you need it. That’s teamwork. So when you need inspiration, expertise or support, ask for it.

Work out loud

So your team is organized and you’re heads-down on your own task. Now it’s time to think about working out loud. Find quick ways to let those around you know what you’ve discovered, what mini-milestones you just passed, or what problem you’re struggling with. It’s critical for your team to stay connected as the project proceeds.

Share a prototype

When you ask teammates for input in an open-ended way, don’t expect much. We’re all busy and need to know what’s required of us. Instead share a draft or sketch — a prototype or outline of where you’re headed. It doesn’t need to be polished, just give us something you’re comfortable building on. That’s collaborative teamwork at its best!

Build in a review process

Review meetings can make a huge difference. They do two things — they bring a particular plan into clear focus, and they provide an ‘open season’ when it becomes polite to critique the team’s work. Try taking a ‘devil’s advocate’ role and question things from all angles. Doing this at the concept stage will bring us all into detailed alignment and often catch requirements that may get missed.

Rally around a common goal

Great teams rally around a common goal. What’s the grand goal you’re striving for? How does achieving the next milestone contribute to that? Where does each teammate’s contribution fit in? Knowing your work matters takes teamwork to the next level.

Celebrate together

Appreciate the work of your teammates! Take time to say ‘thanks’ for small, specific contributions to the team effort. Give them a Shout-Out. When you reach a milestone, take time to celebrate together.

You can use our intranet’s key teamwork enabling features - such as DISCUSSIONS, Shout-Outs, and NEWS - to communicate and celebrate as a team. If you want more information on any of these features, just reach out to us!