Creating a Culture of Teamwork and Collaboration
The merits of teamwork have long been known. In fact, I think it is fair to say that we humans owe much of our success to our basic instinct for collaborative behavior. Even our cave dwelling descendants knew that life would be a lot easier if we could count on one another to co-operate when it came to hunting, child rearing or staving off the attacks of large hungry creatures. So, whether it is ensuring your survival or ensuring the success of a business initiative, teamwork beats going solo pretty much every time!
Think about it: you’re taking a group of people, who are independently talented, and merging their talents to work towards a common goal.
So, not only do you meet your end goal, but you also have a group of people who are energized and engaged working together.
It’s genius – but teamwork doesn’t happen on its own.
The emotional landscape in the workplace has shifted dramatically in one generation. Gone are the days of rigid corporate hierarchies, and the stereotypical table thumping, take no prisoner boss who ruled via a culture of fear. Clearly not a setting that was conducive to teamwork. More like a recipe for hiding mistakes, cozying up to the boss and doing whatever to fit in and climb the corporate ladder.
In today’s works of rapidly changing technology and globalization, teamwork is at the forefront in highly effective organizations because well organized groups are going to come up with ideas and solutions that are almost certainly going to be better those conceived by one individual.
Teamwork takes practice! You need to continuously work at fostering teamwork in your workplace (or really, any place) until teamwork becomes an integral part of the people, processes, and culture of your workplace.
But how can you make this happen?
Here are some changes you can make to help foster a culture of teamwork in your workplace:
Lead by Example
Positive change in the workplace starts with you.
Talking about teamwork isn’t enough. If you’re committed to encouraging teamwork in your workplace, you need to show people that you’re serious – and you don’t need to be the CEO or manager to do it.
Promote self-managing teams within your organization and empower them to make their own decisions. By allowing self-organized teams to manage their own day-to-day tasks and activities under reduced supervision, teams have the authority to do their jobs on their own terms and remain accountable for the results.
While you’re at it, try encouraging informal teams as well. Tasks pop up throughout the day, and are often handled by informal, ad hoc teams anyway. It’s in your best interest to encourage the proliferation of informal teams, allowing them to address any issues or opportunities that capture their interest.
Clarify Responsibilities and Understand Differences
People can’t work together effectively if there is ambiguity about people’s roles and responsibilities within the team – you might even end up in a situation where individuals are delegating tasks unfairly to others. Or the team may tend to be too democratic, and get everyone’s input before making a decision which will take too long and result in missed deadlines.
Establishing roles, responsibilities and decision-making rules ensures that all team members are on the same page and gives them a guide to refer to when assigning tasks. This also helps the team identify gaps and ensures that all tasks are completed.
A big part of the required work will have to do with recognizing and understanding the different generations in your workplace.
Older and young generations have always had their differences, especially when it comes to getting things done at work. For a long time, the younger generations had the upper hand, since strength often trumped experience when it came to shovelling coal, digging trenches, or felling tall trees.
It’s different nowadays. Brute strength without experience doesn’t do much in a knowledge-based economy. And with as many as five different generations comprising the workplace, there’s a lot to learn.
Traditionalists (before 1945), Boomers (1946-64), Generation X (1965-79), Millennials (1980-1996), and Generation Z (1997-2012) all have unique experiences and skill sets to offer, and they also have a lot to learn from each other.
The older generations have the benefit of experience, years of knowledge, and well-established networks. They make wonderful mentors and we need them to download their knowledge before they head out the door.
But at the same time, the younger generations offer their digital skills, social media know how, and fresh ideas. Now, add greater gender and race diversity and shifting culture norms to the mix.
What are you left with? Differences in values, career expectations, communication styles, and lifestyle aspirations.
Generational differences can create plenty of opportunities for misunderstandings and conflict – but they don’t have to.
These tensions call for greater levels of understanding and a willingness of the different generations to find ways to learn from each other. If you can do that, you’ll foster strong, fulfilling, and productive workplace relationships.
Is Your Team Working at Its Full Potential?
Working in a team doesn’t mean that everyone does everything together all the time.
Teamwork requires organizing and breaking down a project into small, more manageable parts, and figuring out who will do what, based on their individual expertise, interest, and abilities.
It also involves:
- Understanding generational differences and how to create a positive, communicative atmosphere.
- Better understanding of the strengths each generation brings to the workplace.
- Creating strategies to enhance communication skills, become more accessible and welcoming to co-workers, and learning how to better deal with conflict in the workplace.
Taking some time to bring your people together for a team building workshop can boost the morale and spirit of your organization, as well as strengthen workplace relationships and build effective teams.
More posts? Bring it on!