Managing Teams

Why Teamwork Matters at Every Level

Everyone, plus the bottom line, benefits when companies show team members how their daily work contributes to the larger whole.
Why Teamwork Matters at Every Level
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When teams start missing deadlines, employers need to know the main obstacles that are preventing workers from delivering on time. Leaders need this information so they can create impactful changes that help teams collaborate more fully. But what if employers instead create issues by perpetuating bad teamwork? 

The July 2016 Corporate Culture Chasm survey from VitalSmarts found a disparity between how employers and employees perceive competition. While leaders say they value teamwork in the workplace, employees say they believe employers really want to see staff compete with one another.

It's time to clear up the confusion: Let’s take a look at some of the biggest obstacles hurting teamwork and how employers can improve collaboration in the workplace.

Use real-time visuals.

To function effectively as a team, workers must understand how they function within the bigger picture. People might disengage if they don’t realize how integral their work is to the larger operation.

Start tracking performance data and share it with employees so they develop a deeper understanding of how they fit into the company. Employees acknowledge how important this is to their performance. Zenger Folkman’s 2014 Feedback: The Powerful Paradox study looked at 2,700 employers and employees and learned that 72 percent of employees said they thought their performance would improve if managers provided corrective feedback.

Showing employees how their role matters can motivate and inspire them to improve their performance. Feedback also allows workers to see their progress. Employers can use real-time performance analytics to initiate constructive dialogue with employees, including solutions-oriented feedback as part of the discussion. These sit-downs should be ongoing so employees can stay on task and address potential teamwork issues if and when they arise.

Related: The Bedrock of Performance Management: Communication of Acceptable Behavior.

Encourage solutions-oriented thinking.

When problems arise, how do teams react? What is the employee mindset? Do team members feel as if they’re scraping by and merely putting out fires?

Focus on shifting their perspective. Employees should look for solutions and stay positive, especially when pressure is high.

Teams plagued by negativity and pessimism are more prone to missing deadlines. The optimist thinks about how to overcome challenges instead of complaining about roadblocks.

Employees should collaborate and confront these obstacles by asking what will be most productive in the moment. Trigger optimism when challenges arise, then break the large concern down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Finally, make a collective decision on how each person will contribute in the new approach.

Properly delegating duties is key to improving teamwork. Train supervisors and managers on prioritizing asks, align their assignments with employee strengths and always include detailed instructions on how to move forward. Set up employees for success.

Related: Effective Teams Have Leaders Who Do These 3 Things

Implement transparency.

Embracing a transparent culture can help get team members on the same page. When employees don’t trust their employer, they might tend to be pessimistic or their performance may suffer. Either can cause teams to miss their deadlines.

Employee distrust is not as uncommon as one would think. One quarter of the 1,562 workers surveyed for the American Psychological Association's 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey reported that they didn't trust their employer. Only about half believed their employer was open and up-front with them.      

Solutions come easier when companies are transparent. That’s why it’s best to share important information such as performance metrics and progress reports. This practice not only teaches accountability but also shows respect and trust.

Transparency makes it easier to align projects and tasks because the big picture is obvious to everyone. When major company news breaks -- such as department mergers or an upcoming acquisition -- employees and management can brainstorm on how to best prepare and execute an effective plan.

Related: 4 Ways to Establish Transparency in Your Business

Start recognizing employees.

An employee recognition program is a great tool to further engage and motivate workers -- it can help boost job satisfaction and keep productivity high.

Encourage employees to recognize their peers, as well. The 2014 TINYpulse Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report surveyed more than 200,000 employees. Participants reported that an employee’s peers are the No. 1 reason they go the extra mile at work.

All levels of employees should participate in peer recognition, and that includes managers who celebrate their fellow managers’ successes. When colleagues uplift their teammates, everyone feels motivated and teamwork improves. This reinforces how the collective efforts of each individual can yield success on a larger scale.