Just ask any sweaty, champagne-soaked athlete who is lifting a major trophy: teamwork is critical to success. Regardless of whether you’re part of a Superbowl-questing football team or you work in more modest surroundings, achieving this elusive teamwork goal is worth striving for. But why? And how? And what is the role of teamwork in retention? Sometimes it pays to consider what you already know, and reaffirm some principles. Read on.
Benefits of Teamwork in the Workplace
It takes a high level of expertise to compete in today’s ever-evolving economy. Expecting one employee to specialize in every facet of the business is not reasonable. Even if you do find a rare jewel that comes close, he or she will not be capable of handing the full workload alone. You’ll need a solid and invested team. Ideally, teamwork encourages the collaboration of skills, enabling each team member to excel in their field of strength.
Companies will see a boost in innovation as increased communication leads to the birth and development of new and inventive ideas. A good idea can come from anywhere; fostering this interaction is key. Furthermore, strength in numbers will embolden outside the box thinking as team members gain confidence that they alone will not be held accountable if a new approach doesn’t pan out.
When a team is functioning properly, members will have each other’s back during key crunch times, boosting productivity and service throughout the company. The result is a team that is efficient, invested and on task.
Creating the Environment to Achieve Teamwork
Wishing for an atmosphere of teamwork and actually developing one are, of course, two different things. With the right people in place, teamwork might occur organically. And with six numbers on a piece of paper, you might win the lottery! A better bet is to create an atmosphere which fosters effective group efforts.
The first step is developing buy-in from employees. To this end, bonding activities are an effective tool. While pricey excursions and psychology-driven exercises work wonders for some groups, others benefit more from simple luncheons or informal get-togethers. The key is to allow your team members to offer input on which types of activities they would find preferable and helpful.
A clear definition of roles, along with a system of accountability, will provide clarity to employees while ensuring they don’t feel taken advantage of. Even as we ask team members to occasionally step outside of their assigned tasks during times of need, there should be no doubt as to where responsibility ultimately lies.
Communication, of course, is key to the functionality of any team. Meetings should be focussed, and include mechanisms for feedback and idea generation. Other channels should be established for those who have valuable input but might be hesitant to speak up amidst large groups. A host of software exists for facilitating communications and task management. Proper education and consistent utilization will foster buy-in to these systems. Even something as simple as office layout can contribute to collaboration.
Recognition is a key motivator of teamwork. With major achievements, all too often the lion’s share of the credit goes to those who carry the ball across the goal line. Recognition of hard work during or upon completion of a project can take the form of bonuses, shout-outs in the newsletter, or even silly trophies. Be creative!
Ultimately, it’s best to remember that teamwork can’t be built in a day. It’s a way of life. Screening for teamwork aptitude during the hiring process and fostering it on an ongoing basis will yield the best results.
Teamwork as a Factor in Retention
Employees who are a part of highly functional teams will often experience higher morale. Rather than feeling that they’ve simply performed a limited task, they will recognize their role in the larger accomplishments of the company. Seeing projects and initiatives through from beginning to end will provide team members with a sense of ownership, which may make them hesitant to leave. Recognition from upper management will only reinforce this pride of ownership.
Those engaged in teamwork will constantly be learning from their co-workers. In addition to gaining specific skills, they develop more general aptitudes pertaining to leadership and project management. This will combat the sense of stagnation that motivates so many employees to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
Last, but not least, teamwork can create valuable relationships that make the workplace a more enjoyable environment. These bonds will serve as a deterrent to exit, keeping the team in place for years to come.