"Teamwork" is the subject of a lot of business talks, and for good reason. Your ability to foster, not just good employees, but employees who work well together, can separate your business from the competition. Here are some tips for bringing your team together:
They may seem cheesy, but teamwork exercises actually work in encouraging your employees to get to know one another. You can find a wide variety of teamwork exercises all over the internet, and select those that best fit your group. Or, if you have the funds, you can bring in an outside consultant to pick the right exercises for your team. Exercises are not a magic solution by any means, but they can lay the groundwork for increased cooperation.
Retreats can provide a number of benefits for your team. They help your employees feel a greater sense of personal connection to other members of the team through exercises and discussions. They also give the employees a chance to bond and think outside of their normal work environment; simply operating in a separate space can lead to new ideas and forged connections.
Retreats don't necessarily need to be a costly endeavor; they can involve just a hike or a picnic, preferably somewhere relaxing and outside. This will put your employees at ease, help them feel more relaxed than they might in an enclosed office.
Philanthropy and Volunteering
Picking a charity for your business to get behind can create a sense of teamwork and shared purpose. While it can be difficult getting people to cohere as a team around business, it can also be far easier to get people to come together as a team for a good cause. All such ventures must be strictly voluntary. However, once you find a good cause for everyone to rally around, you’ll find that even people who might have personal or professional disagreements can set aside their differences to achieve a common goal. This sense of teamwork can translate to increased cohesion on the job.
Openness and Communication
Many times, unstated resentments and disagreements can conspire to make your employees less than a team. One way to combat this is to have open, professional lines of communication. Rather than allowing problems to simmer, an open environment of communication can get such problems resolved quickly and professionally. Consider having an anonymous "suggestion box" as well as meetings to tackle any concerns employees are feelings.
You can’t expect everyone in your organization to get along and be friends all the time. However, you can foster a sense of camaraderie with things like company lunches. Once a month or so, go all out. Have a big company cookout. Take a couple hours for lunch and other fun activities. While you might bristle at the idea of socializing on company time, remember that, after their family, your employees spend most of their lives with each other. A sense of intimacy can translate into a closer-knit team.
One way that people will feel an instant sense of teamwork is when they get support from other members of the team. While you can’t enforce support in your team, you can express to your team how important it is to support the other members. When someone needs a little help, team members should be willing to provide this support. They’ll almost certainly have it repaid in kind when they need the same support. Consider recognizing the best "team player" once a week or once a month, to encourage this sort of behavior.
Fostering a Sense of Teamwork
A sense of teamwork can make or break the success of an organization. Unlike other qualities, it’s hard to “require” a sense of teamwork in your employees. The very act of “requirement” is self-defeating. You can, however, engage in a certain set of behaviors that trend toward a greater sense of teamwork. While the results won’t be instant, they will grow over time. With just a little attention in the right places, you can bring your organization to a new level through the power of teamwork.
Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks via Flickr