How to Build a Strong Teamwork Culture
Teamwork culture is promoting a work culture that values collaboration. When people work in a team environment, they are likely to make better decisions in terms of planning, thinking, and making decisions and actions by cooperating with one another. Teamwork culture took a backseat in the past, as most of our family structures, schools, etc. always propounded and emphasized the significance of being the best, winning, and always staying on the top of the game. These institutions rarely emphasized the importance of teamwork and collaboration.
However, with changing times, organisations understood the importance of nurturing and promoting the culture of teamwork. They have slowly begun to work towards valuing and welcoming individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. This article attempts to help you understand how you can build a teamwork culture in your organisation.
Sowing the Seeds of Great Teamwork Culture
To make teamwork an organic value in your organisation, you need to take the following actions:
- Management leaders need to clearly communicate to everyone that the expectation of exceptional work is not just at an individual level but at a team level and collaboration is expected out of every team. They need to make it explicitly clear that no one wholly owns a particular work process or work area all by themselves.
- Management executives need to ensure that teamwork is maintained even at times when things are going wrong. There is usually a high level of temptation at such a time of crisis to go back to old ways of working in silos instead of working collaboratively as a team.
- Ensure that organisational values are formally written and shared across the team so that all the members often talk about and understand the significance of a teamwork culture. Incorporate at teamwork in the list of organisational values.
- Reward and recognise individuals and teams for demonstrating teamwork behaviours. Set expectations that bonuses, rewards, or compensation will vary depending on the collaborative practices adopted and followed by each team along with the individual achievement and contribution as a team member.
- Share outstanding achievements and success stories of teams with teams across the organisation, so that people feel encouraged to actively participate and nurture the teamwork culture within the organisation.
- Ensure that the performance management system emphasises and values teamwork. A 360-degree feedback needs to be integrated into the system.
How to Promote Team Building
The trend that seen in most organisations in the name of team building activities is to take the team out as a group once a year to a resort where they are involved in playing games, and with that, the management thinks that they have promoted team building. This is a rather archaic way of approaching the concept of team building. After coming back from the retreat, leaders would wonder why the great sense of teamwork experienced has failed to impact the long-term behaviours and actions.
The point here is that there is nothing wrong in conducting these team retreats and outdoor team building activities, but the key is that this team bonding needs to be part of an ongoing teamwork effort. Team building should be something that is not just restricted to a couple of days every year, but it should be something that you practice every single day at work.
- Make a practice to form cross-functional ‘hack’ teams to solve issues and seek solutions to improve work processes within the team, project or company. Provide all the relevant training so that the team spends their energy on the project and not in figuring out how to collaboratively work as a team to approach or address the issue.
- Set up meetings at regular intervals to review the progress of the teams and provide them with timely inputs. If there are situations where team members are not getting along, you need to examine the work processes that these teams own.
- Instead of relying on annual team building activities or outings, try to incorporate fun activities into the organisational agenda by organising surprise potluck luncheons, team sports events, sponsored dinners, visiting an amusement park, going for team hiking, etc.
- Develop the practice of using icebreakers and exercises involving teamwork at meetings. These activities need not be elaborate and time-consuming. They can be as short as 10-15 minutes. These activities make a difference, as they help the participants to laugh and get to know each other. So this investment of time during the productive hours is rather a wise investment of time.
- Make an effort to celebrate team success in a public manner by taking initiatives such as ordering and distributing same T-shirts or caps, gift certificates, or other company merchandise with the team or department name engraved on the merchandise items.