Building an effective team is one of the great challenges — and rewards — of management. According to recent research conducted by Reflektive, the vast majority (81%) of the survey group said that they frequently work as part of a team; however, teamwork is still a major pain point.
Forty-six percent reported working on teams is difficult due to different working styles, and more than 90% of workers find it difficult to contribute in a meaningful way in teams of six or more people. Even still, employees who work for organizations with good cross-functional team alignment are 98% more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work.
Simply acknowledging the importance of teamwork isn’t enough: you need to incorporate team-building strategies into your corporate culture.
1. Build Trust
Of all the successful team building characteristics, trust is the most important. No team works well without trust. When a team divides up task responsibilities for a project, employees need to be able to trust that their colleagues will get their jobs done. Team members need to have faith in each other, their manager, and the larger organization.
Building trust into corporate culture can be a long process. Managers can encourage trust by supporting team efforts, building interpersonal relationships with team members through regular 1:1 meetings, and advocating for the team as needed. Trust won’t mysteriously appear overnight: it takes time and effort. Without it, however, you don’t have a team, just a group of employees.
2. Provide Opportunities to Collaborate
Building an effective team is much easier if your organization makes collaboration an expected part of the work environment. When employees are used to collaborating (and receiving the support and tools needed to collaborate), they’re more effective when assigned to teams. Outside of formally assigned teams, collaboration makes it easier for employees to receive assistance and feedback from colleagues when they ask for it. Successful collaboration builds interpersonal relationships and trust, making future collaboration more likely.
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3. Interdepartmental Communication
Communication between team members is, of course, important, but it’s vital to remember that everyone in an organization is part of the same team. Efficient communication should be a goal not just between team members, but between teams and entire departments. Keeping the lines of communication open helps prevent misunderstandings, reduces the risk of duplicated work, and encourages departments to support each other’s efforts. HR software can help ensure everyone in the organization is on the same page and not siloed.
4. Sharing Goals
Working toward a common goal, like trust, is another successful team characteristic. When a team decides on an objective, they work toward it as a group and succeed (or fail) together. Build shared goals into your corporate culture by making goals visible and well-known. When other teams and departments understand the objective a team is working up to, they’re more likely to help where they can and cheer on the team to success.
5. Capitalize on Diversity
One of the great advantages of teamwork occurs when employees with different skill sets and life experiences come together. Diversity brings a range of different perspectives to a team project, improving brainstorming sessions and encouraging out-of-the-box thinking. Two people can perform the same task and have two very different opinions of it. A diverse team brings these differences to the forefront and examines them, often with powerful results.
6. Advocate for Your Team
A team manager holds many responsibilities, but perhaps the most important is her or her role as an advocate. As the team leader, it’s your role to go to bat for your team and to make sure they have the tools and resources needed to complete their objectives. When the team comes up with an unorthodox approach to a problem, you’re the one who convinces upper management the idea will work. Advocating tells your team you have their back, giving them the confidence to be creative and take risks.
7. Celebrate Team Achievements
Employees value formal recognition for their efforts. Use this desire to foster a culture of teamwork by recognizing and rewarding employees who make outstanding team members. As employees realize the company values collaboration (and recognizes those who collaborate), they’ll be more likely to value teamwork.
8. Use Project Management Tools
No matter how many successful team characteristics your employees display, their effectiveness in team situations will be limited without access to the right tools. Project and performance management systems help team members interact, provide helpful feedback to each other, and stay up-to-date on the status of critical tasks. Investing in such tools sends a clear signal that your organization values and fosters a team-based culture.