Appreciation | January 16, 2017
the teamwork definition and fostering collaboration at work
By o.c. tanner
Teamwork. We talk about it, we read about it, we do exercises to build it, and we even go to keynote speeches and workshops to understand how better to implement it in our organizations. So, what is teamwork? And why do we talk about it so much? In this article, we’ll attempt to better define teamwork, go into greater depth on its integral role in today’s workplace, and help you learn how to create a collaborative environment where teamwork is central.
What is teamwork?
According to BusinessDictionary.com, teamwork is “The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal. Teamwork is often a crucial part of a business, as it is often necessary for colleagues to work well together, trying their best in any circumstance. Teamwork means that people will try to cooperate, using their individual skills and providing constructive feedback, despite any personal conflict between individuals.”
Teamwork is selfless. It focuses on the end goal. Teamwork runs on the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s the classic “one plus one equals three” idea. Personalities and skillsets differ which can create personal conflict. When the entire team focuses on doing great work, however, the team members’ differences turn into strengths and goals are met and even exceeded.
What is teamwork built on?
When people collaborate, they work together toward a common goal. Thus, the foundation for teamwork is a common goal. If each team member has a different agenda, collaboration will be difficult, and it will become much harder to produce exceptional work and achieve goals. Ensure your team is set up to work together and collaborate effectively by clearly defining goals on a regular basis. Have frequent meetings with each individual team member to ensure that they understand and are in line with the goals of your team. If any member of the team struggles to align themselves with your team’s goals, figure out why. Do your best to resolve conflicts of interest and determine differing goals. If a particular employee continually struggles to work toward the common goal of the team, it may be time to part ways.
Understanding the Importance of Teamwork in the Workplace
There is very little disputation surrounding the importance of teamwork and collaboration at work. The vast majority seem to understand that working together is absolutely vital in today’s business world. In fact, research shows that nearly 3 in 4 employers rank teamwork and collaboration as “very important.” Not only do leaders grasp that teamwork is important, they also understand why it’s so crucial. They seem to understand that the results of an initiative are greatly dependent on how well a team works together. A whopping 97% of corporate executives, employees, and educators believe a lack of alignment within a team directly impacts the outcome of a task or project.”
The fact that most leaders grasp the importance of collaboration and teamwork is encouraging, as this understanding is vital to the success of an organization. With the business world changing almost constantly as new technologies and innovations emerge, companies need to collaborate in order to survive. As teams work together to share their experiences and knowledge, they can come to strategic and creative solutions. Every employee brings different skills and perspectives to the table, and multiple viewpoints help companies find strategic approaches to continually innovate in today’s fast-paced world.
Though most understand the importance of teamwork, there is still a glaring problem that plagues many organizations– actually working as a team. Sadly, though the understanding is there, the application is often not. We’ll give you some tips on how you can foster collaboration within your company so you can better reach your goals.
Creating a Collaborative Work Environment
With so many different personalities on any given team at work, fostering teamwork can be a real challenge. As mentioned earlier, however, if team members can all focus on a common goal, differences can become strengths. How do you create an environment where this is possible? Dave Mattson, CEO and President of Sandler Training, has some great insights. He provides several tips for fostering teamwork. In this article, we’ll highlight six of them and give our analysis on each.
Ways to Foster Teamwork
1. Get to know your team members
Team leaders, above all, should take it upon themselves to become friends with every member of their team. Regular one-on-one meetings can help with this, but a lot of getting to know someone comes from being around them and showing you care by listening and sharing in everyday conversation. As leaders greater come to know and understand their team members, they’ll be able to help them grasp the goals of the team. Team members should also be encouraged to get to know each other. The better the team understands each other’s tendencies, skillsets, personalities, and working styles, the better collaboration will be.
2. Agree on a team mission
Remember how a common goal is the basis for teamwork? Leaders should guide the team in understanding individual roles and the team’s overall mission, but feedback and suggestions should always be welcomed. Hold a meeting to establish goals and clearly define individual responsibilities and watch as the team begins to work together.
3. Promote Sharing
Since every personality is different, some team members may be naturally more vocal than others. Seek out those who don’t speak out as much and ask their opinion on projects. Often, the quieter ones have some of the best feedback and ideas. If you as a leader share thoughts, feedback, and ideas often, your whole team will feel more comfortable doing so.
4. Map goals and timelines
No one should have to wonder what the goals and milestones are and when certain tasks should be completed. Make them very clear and you’ll spend less time explaining so your team can spend more time collaboratively working.
5. Ensure Clear Communication
So many issues stem simply from miscommunication. Make it a goal to communicate effectively and efficiently. As you communicate well, others will learn to follow your example. Every time you communicate an assignment, make sure it was fully understood by asking if there are any questions.
6. Build the team relationship outside the office
Sometimes being in the office creates pressure to perform and doesn’t allow employees to fully express themselves. Facilitate casual gatherings outside of work that allow team members to voice their opinion. Having little parties can encourage unity and team building and naturally unveil personalities. This may even help you craft an awards strategy that fits best with your team.
Put It All Together
We’ve walked through what teamwork is, why it’s important, and how you can foster it in your organization. Now it’s time to get to work on defining your own teamwork definition. It’ll take some time to build a foundation upon which collaboration and teamwork can flourish, but once that foundation is built, productivity will soar and overall employee engagement and satisfaction will increase. Be patient, take your time, and enjoy the process of creating a more collaborative environment within your company. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see the positive results.