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Teamwork and collaboration are the foundation of every great company culture, whether your workforce is fully in person, remote, or a combination of the two. There are few feelings like knowing you can rely on your teammates, and there are few things as satisfying as building genuine, lasting connections with them. A team-centered culture where everyone feels like they belong boosts alignment with your company vision and values, keeping everyone in sync as they work together towards a common goal.
Of course, there are plenty of challenges that can arise on the path to better teamwork, from a lack of employee buy-in, to poorly considered team-building activities, to management missteps. To make the way as smooth as possible, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of teamwork along with a few ways any enterprise can help develop it organically.
What does teamwork really mean?
Teamwork includes every act of collaboration and assistance at your company. It can be as simple as a quick tip on how to use the company’s project management system to coordination between members of a multidisciplinary team as they prepare a software update for launch. Team members who work closely together are more likely to understand their respective strengths and weaknesses, so they can better divy up work and tackle projects key to organizational success. And those who feel the sense of belonging that great teamwork helps develop are more likely to be engaged, productive, resilient, and satisfied.
Teamwork requires a shared goal that employees understand and find motivating. There are many reasons a team member might strive to achieve these shared organizational objectives, and what motivates one employee often won’t make much of an impact with a colleague. Some are driven by a set of core values and a vision for the future they find compelling. Others go the extra mile when they receive frequent recognition and tangible rewards for their efforts. Finding out what motivates employees to contribute to the common good of the company — preferably with a dedicated, easy-to-use solution for gathering feedback in real time — is the first step on the way to building a truly team-based culture.
3 ways to foster teamwork and collaboration
How can you support something as nebulous as teamwork? Don’t resort to mandatory team-building activities that are likely to generate more groans than connections between peers. Instead, lay the groundwork for effective teamwork with targeted initiatives that help create an environment where collaboration can thrive. Start with these 3 impactful strategies for boosting teamwork that any enterprise can put into action.
1. Establish a vision and values employees buy into
It’s the rare employee who doesn’t feel an urge to contribute when presented with a vision they connect with. A vision statement might seem like a rote requirement for your company, something that’s written at its founding before sitting on a little-visited page of your website for years. But done right, a vision statement can be one of the best tools for inspiring, aligning, and guiding teams across your business.
The best statements are clear, concise, and describe the ultimate goal employees are working towards in plain language. When team members can connect their present tasks to the bigger picture, it’s that much easier to stay committed to the job and go the extra mile to connect with and assist colleagues.
While a vision statement is a powerful way to show team members where your organization is heading, it doesn’t directly address where your organization is and what it’s about today. That’s where a meaningful set of company values come in. These values shouldn’t arise out of thin air. They should be the central philosophies that underlie everything your business and employees do, from a quick interaction with a customer online to large-scale, strategic decisions that impact your entire enterprise.
Your organization’s values should make it stand apart from the competition, be written in clear, understandable language that’s free of corporate jargon, and address its core mission together with its impact on the broader world. Above all, they should blend seamlessly with your employer brand and form a cohesive whole with your organization’s daily practices. Few things turn off both employees and customers like a set of artificial values that are never put into action.
Even the most compelling vision and set of values won’t get your company far if you hire employees who don’t connect with them, however. During the recruitment process, prioritize cultural fit just as much — if not more — than traditional hiring barometers like time on the job and professional skills. An employee who believes in what your company does and fits in seamlessly with its culture and their team is more likely to have a long, successful career at your organization than one who checks all the right boxes but views the position as little more than a paycheck.
2. Encourage employee recognition
Employee recognition is a teamwork game changer, boosting collaboration in multiple ways at once. It gives them the opportunity to show how and why they appreciate their colleagues, one of the best ways to strengthen relationships with peers and managers. And it also incentivizes them to achieve shared objectives both intrinsically and extrinsically.
Intrinsic motivators are satisfying in and of themselves — think of a sincere, public congratulations from a leader you respect, or completing a long-awaited project that thrills customers and co-workers alike. Extrinsic motivators are a bit more straightforward, and include everything from a sales commission, to a spot bonus, to a gift of reward points from a thankful peer. Each type of motivation plays a key role in building the level of employee engagement needed for active, frequent collaboration.
The best strategy for leveraging appreciation to motivate team members both ways is adopting an employee recognition and reward platform. When choosing a solution, ensure that it addresses the intrinsic part of the equation by giving team members the ability to share social recognition from anywhere, anytime. The best recognition solutions connect your entire workforce, whether they’re currently working remotely or in-office, with a fully-featured mobile app.
You should also look for a platform that empowers all team members, from the C-suite on down, to give and receive reward points — which can then be redeemed in a built-in, fully-stocked marketplace. This lets the entire organization contribute to a virtuous cycle of self-reinforcing extrinsic motivation.
3. Ask for and act on feedback
Employees interact and collaborate with each other more when they feel psychologically safe, knowing that they can speak up, act as their true selves, and take smart risks without risking judgment and reprisal. And a big part of building an environment of mutual trust is soliciting and acting on feedback from employees at all levels of your company. What goals get employees truly excited? How can your company best support collaboration between remote team members? It’s hard to know the answers to these and other important questions unless you ask.
Direct, open communication with employees is a great place to start, but it’s not enough. Developing a deep understanding of your workforce requires feedback that’s both frequent and honest. Managers don’t have the time to constantly touch base with team members — if they did, team members still wouldn’t appreciate the intrusion — and there are plenty of issues that employees need the protection of anonymity to discuss freely, even at organizations they trust.
That’s why adopting an employee engagement platform is critical. These tools are dedicated to providing employees with multiple ways to safely share their real thoughts at any time, whether through a focused pulse survey or an always-on AI-powered feedback channel. They also provide managers and other people leaders with the reporting and analytics tools needed to easily glean insights into what employees want and how the organization can improve its team building efforts.
Boost teamwork at your workplace today
A team-based culture won’t appear overnight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start making progress towards one today. Start driving better teamwork through recognition, rewards, and engagement with the Achievers Employee Experience Platform. It’s a science-driven, expert-backed solution that includes both a top-of-the-line recognition and rewards tool in Achievers Recognize and a powerful platform for understanding engagement in Achievers Listen.