Teamwork: getting everyone to pull in the same direction

We frequently talk about "the team" in our businesses when we're really just talking about the group of people who work there. A team is a lot more than just a collection of employees; it's a group of people who actively work together to achieve the business' vision and goals.

Teams don't just happen. They're built by forward-thinking managers who recognise the value of teamwork and actively set up the right conditions for it to flourish. In fact it takes real planning and commitment to turn a group into a team, but consider some of the business benefits:
  • Willing collaboration and sharing of ideas to develop new or better solutions for the way things get done

  • A sense of belonging that is good for individual and workplace morale by minimising conflict and getting people engaged with their jobs
You can make a good start on building a team just by making sure you have the right foundation to build on. Here's where to start.
  1. Develop a vision for your business: The greatest benefit of teamwork is it's ability to get everyone pulling in the same direction. But if the business doesn't have a clear idea of where it is going and what it wants to achieve, then you can't get people to look outside their own immediate task, see the bigger picture, and work towards achieving it.

  2. Prepare job descriptions: It's helpful if every team member has a written job description that sets out their individual role and responsibilities. Without clear guidelines on what they are meant to be doing there will be a lack of focus and some argument about who is responsible for what.

  3. Improve your leadership skills: It's a major challenge to run a group of people as a team and requires some real skill, particularly in the areas of inter-personal communication, conflict resolution and acting as a team leader rather than as the "boss". If need be, take some lessons to improve these skills.

  4. Document your workplace practice policies: In the absence of agreed practices within the workplace a lot of conflict and resentment can be generated just through people "doing their own thing". Set rules about potential conflict areas like personal use of equipment and so on and sidestep these opportunities for clashes between team members.

  5. Create channels for communication: One of the defining features of a real team is the quality of communication that takes place between people. To allow that to happen, you need to create the channels, such as a regular team meeting, and a way of handling discussion that allows people to feel safe in speaking up and sharing ideas.

  6. Do some team-building exercises: While a lot of team-building happens in the workplace it can be valuable to take time out for some formal team-building activities. The type you choose should be suited to your team and what it does, but there's a large range you can consider - from trust exercises to weekend retreats.

  7. Celebrate together: Build in some fun to the work routine to relieve stress and let off steam occasionally. There are any number of things you could do from workplace drinks and snacks on Friday afternoon to group outings.
Teamwork is a big asset to any business - the same number of people at work but working together better and more efficiently. But it won't happen unless you build on solid foundations.

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Phone 04 920 0911


P.O. Box 30-545, Lower Hutt 5040

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