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How to Improve Teamwork in the Workplace


Building a Team Environment in the Workplace

Do you like the idea of the team approach but don't know where to start? Here are a few simple steps to help you launch a successful work team:

  1. Choose your leader. Pick a manager who you know your employees trust and will be willing to follow. Ideally, you want someone who is visionary, but not egotistical; someone who can delegate and keep the team focused, without turning into a tyrant.
  1. Find the right team size. Some studies have indicated that larger teams are more effective. Big teams do have the advantage of drawing on more skill sets, but a larger group of people can also have more trouble reaching a consensus [source: Cohen and Bailey]. Small teams can foster closer working relationships. Consider the goal when selecting the number of team members. For a small project, you might only need three or four members. Larger, longer-term projects may require a dozen or more members.
  1. Pick your team members. Members should bring a diverse set of skills and personalities to the table, each of which complements the project and helps the group reach its goal. All of the team members should be competent, efficient and able to work well together.
  1. Set roles. Clearly define each person's position, and what he or she needs to accomplish within the team.
  1. Determine how the team will fit within the organization. Will it be self-managed or overseen closely by corporate management?
  1. Establish a collaborative environment. Teamwork is built on trust. All employees should feel comfortable asking questions, expressing their opinions and making suggestions. Each person's input should be highly valued. No one in the group should be so self-driven that they're willing to undermine co-workers to reach their personal goal.

Give the team time to get to know one another and develop a relationship and style that works for them. It can take several weeks for members to become accustomed to their roles within the team, and to become comfortable enough to share their ideas.

Even though teams can improve productivity and morale, they don't work for every organization. First, not every corporation has the right structure to support teamwork. A strict hierarchy in which management is unwilling to give up the reigns might not be the best place for a team approach.

If you've tried establishing teams and it's being met with resistance, or your teams just can't work together, don't keep pushing it or blame your employees. You can try bringing in a consultant who is experienced in team building or go with another approach.