It’s something that cannot be underestimated, the power of teamwork. Whether you are running a call center that has individuals working towards the common good, or you are a business that encourages collaboration in every manner, teamwork always has pride of place. But when we struggle to implement teamwork as a fundamental tenet, we can do our business a disservice. It has its impacts in so many other areas, not just in relation to the day-to-day work, but also the culture of the company. Are there any effective teamwork principles that you should implement to make a company grow stronger over the years?

The Division Of Labor

To appropriate Karl Marx’s idea of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”, the division of labor approach is, in one respect, common sense in business. Everybody has their own particular strengths, for what we can tend to do in business is the lump everyone in together, and help everyone to work as one unit. In one respect, this means that teamwork is at its most effective. But on the other hand, are you actually making the most of each member in terms of their particular skill?

For businesses to progress further forward, everybody has particular strengths and weaknesses, and we should use these to our advantage. It can take time to recognize an individual’s specific abilities, but as teamwork is the overriding goal, it can be implemented quicker. In one respect, the division of labor approach can result in segregation. But if you look at a team as an entity that works towards a common goal, this is when the idea of big-picture thinking and communicating the end product works best…

The Importance Of Communication

Communication is greatly underestimated in many ways. We may take it for granted that we have a team that knows what the end product is, and what happens over a period of time is that the end up serving their own needs, rather than the needs of the common objective. Communication will more than make up for this. Whether it’s down to you, and the fact that you’re not operating with appropriate big-picture thinking, or you’re not doing enough to keep your workers in the loop, communication will result in a happier and productive team. And what if you have workers that are somewhat segregated? It’s still possible to builds this team ethic. You just have to work a lot harder.

But these days, with communication tools like Skype, or event management software like LASSO, it’s easier to keep everything in check. The wonderful thing about communication tools and management systems is that they can do a lot of the work for us. If we struggle to be organized and to set up regular team meetings, a lot of these tools can remind us, but also, they provide the means necessary to encourage regular communication. Even if you have remote workers, it’s not just about leaving those people out of the loop because they’re not in the office; it’s about using as many different communication tools as possible. This works to keep everybody in the picture, but it also serves to reassure people that they aren’t out of it.

Resolving Conflict

Working in close quarters, or encouraging this idea of teamwork, especially when the team has been segregated before, can be difficult to implement. Conflict is a natural byproduct of teamwork. But rather than having it impact the morale of the team, conflict can be a great way to channel growth from within. It’s your responsibility to manage conflict effectively. It’s not just about letting your team work it out amongst themselves, but it’s about embodying those ethics that communicates that it’s not just about the “I”, but the “we” that will get results.

Amazingly, perspective is something we don’t always get from workers, and this is where communicating the big picture and the end result will always keep people on track, but the benefit of encouraging other perspectives will increase the empathy, as well as the team building. Conflict can happen as a result of emotion, and if you encourage decision-making on a more factual basis, this can help to minimize emotional investment.

After all, it’s about business, not personal needs. Encouraging teamwork is akin to a sociological experiment. You may not get the results you want right away, and you will soon realize who shines and who doesn’t, but when conflicts inevitably arise, you’ve got to ensure that you are providing the appropriate framework.

Supporting Your Workers

This is especially prudent for any new business. It could be so easy to encourage teamwork and hammer the point home that it’s fundamental to growth, but not necessarily practice what we preach. It’s about being as one unit, but it’s also about supporting your workers when they need a bit of extra help. This could be in a professional sense or personal life.

You need to support your team, and for all of the knowledge you can throw at your workers to get them to gel, without adequate support too, it’s not going to provide that foundation. In supporting your workers, you can feel like you bear the brunt a lot of the time.

But if you are the person in charge, it’s your responsibility to ensure that each working part is doing everything to the best of its ability. There are things that we can do, such as lead by example, but we also need to take our leadership out of the equation on occasion, and just be a sympathetic ear.

Teamwork is a fantastic idea in theory. However, it is seldom implemented effectively, especially in younger businesses. Because there’s so much stress, we could all feel encouraged to look after ourselves. But if you want to go the distance, and build a culture that grows, teamwork has to be the frame in which you hang your business on. Even if you have workers doing individual tasks, it still helps to communicate the end product, as this will encourage your workers to be a more solid unit.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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