10 tips to improve teamwork and achieve more

Be the leader the team needs

Most businesses are a reflection of their leaders and so it is important that you as a leader understand and promote teamwork within the company and the people. Actively demonstrate key teamwork skills like trust, challenge and reward teamwork as well as achievement.

Get the team to create the rules

Rules might sound a bit strict but everybody like to know what the boundaries are and having them laid out early can prevent a lot of frustration within teams. Simple rules could be:

  • Always turn up to meetings five minutes early so you are ready to start on time.
  • No-one is expected to send or respond to emails out of work hours.
  • No access to phones in meetings.
  • Everyone will be heard.

Be clear on your purpose

Sounds simple but often teams are not clear on the why of what they are doing and this will prevent them from doing their best. Often teams members cover different functions and maybe clear on their individual purpose but not that of the team or have a clear image of the bigger picture. It is essential that everyone knows what they are working towards and why.

Communicate, communicate and communicate a bit more

As with purpose above, it is essential that your communication is clear but more than that we need to consider all channels of communication. How easy is it for the team to communicate with each other, can you use technology to bring them closer together, using collaboration software or video or phone calls?  

One big meeting a week is not enough, encourage smaller breakout meetings and casual catch-ups between team members.

Do stuff together

Now I am not suggesting that monthly away days are the best solution but it is important to try activities as a team to help build trust and respect for each other and to encourage openness. Some of these activities don’t even have to be team building, it could simply be having coffee together, or the occasional meal out to chat and get to know each other better.

Celebrate diversity

The strongest and most capable teams have a variety of skills and diverse backgrounds. As leaders we often surround ourselves with people like us, who seem to think as we do and have similar drivers but this can stifle creative and problem solving.

Understand that not everyone will agree all the time and sometimes they will annoy each other but encourage the team to acknowledge their differences and see that as a strength of the team.

Build on strengths, not weaknesses

If we are allowed to play to our strengths research has shown that we are much more likely to be engaged and contribute more to a team. In simple terms let people do more of what they are good at and if this leaves a hole then see if someone else in the team has a strength in that area.

Reward and recognise teamwork

We all know that these two things help with motivation and help fulfil our basic need to be valued. So do it! Shout about it in company newsletters or emails or give a bonus, extra day off, theatre tickets, match tickets it doesn’t have to be something big but it has to be consistent, once you start you have to keep doing it.

Create a culture of gratitude

Encourage people to be more appreciative of others and their efforts. Simple thanks can go a long way to making people feel more valued. For some reason, we are much less likely to say thank you to our work colleagues than we would our friends and family. You could even make it one of the rules of the team and it is an area where it is important to lead by example too.  

Make the environment work for the team

Just take the time to look at the space your team work in or from, does it make teamwork easy or is it full of barriers like doors, walls and stairs or are your team rarely even in the same county or country? If you do have the team in one building do they have a space where they can work or spend time together, are there opportunities for them to have casual meetings or chats?

For remote teams do they have a collaboration software they all use, can they work on the same projects at the same time? Trello the workflow software company have teams spread across the globe but also some are office-based so they have a rule that when they have video calls everyone must be on video even if three of them are in the same room just to make sure the experience is the same for everyone. 

Mhairi Richardson
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Mhairi Richardson

Mhairi specialises in coaching teams to help them achieve more and improve their wellbeing. Her focus is on building trust within the team and a combination of coaching, mentoring and facilitation and she can tailor the program to the needs of your business. She enjoys working with newly formed teams, established team or teams who just feel they should be achieving more. Mhairi is also a coach with a strong SME background, a focus on the detail, a high level of emotional intelligence and a strong desire to develop talent and grow high performing teams.