“Teamwork makes the dream work” is a nice philosophy, but it doesn’t reflect how people actually feel: 85% of U.S. employees find working on teams highly difficult. There are multiple reasons for this frustration with teamwork; such as lack of alignment with tasks, strict deadlines, and poor collaboration skills.
While you can’t control who your team members are, you can control your attitude about teamwork. So instead of huffing and puffing the next time you’re assigned a group project, check out our recommendations on how to create a beneficial team environment below.
1.) Encourage a culture of honesty
It's okay to disagree with your teammates, as long as it's done constructively.
One of the benefits of working on a team is that you have multiple people to weigh in on ideas. Given the diversity in perspectives, it's only natural that you're not going to agree with everything your teammates have to say.
That's why it's important to create a culture of giving constructive and empathetic feedback. If you don't agree with someone's idea, provide an objective explanation of why, instead of just saying "I don't like it." This will help others understand where you're coming from and allow you to collaborate on a better idea together.
2.) Acknowledge everyone’s strengths and weaknesses
Everyone has things they’re good at and things they’re not good at - the important part is figuring out how to complement one another.
While we always want to encourage employees to learn new things, sometimes there’s a tight deadline or a shortage of resources that doesn’t allow for people to acquire new skill sets at that point in time.
A great benefit of teamwork is that other people can step up in areas that aren’t your strong suit - you just need to be upfront about where you need help. So if a project requires strong design skills that you don’t have yet, let your colleague who is awesome at using Sketch help you out. Remember: you’re not trying to impress anyone here, and nobody expects you to know everything. It’s more efficient to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses so the team can learn how to help each other best.
3.) Take advantage of the increased productivity
There are only 24 hours in a day. But, if you have a team of five people, suddenly an 8-hour working day becomes a 40-hour working day.
When done efficiently, teamwork allows employees to use their time wisely. By delegating the right tasks to the right people, using each other to pressure test ideas, and swapping ideas, high-quality work will get out the door faster. Take advantage of this increased productivity to take on more challenging projects together.
4.) Create a safe place to take risks
Team environments can make risk-taking feel more comfortable.
Working with others encourages positive risk-taking because employees know the rest of the team will have their backs in case things don’t go according to plan. So take advantage of this safe space to present bolder ideas, think outside the box, and execute on more creative actions.
5.) Spark creativity through conversations
Use your teammates to create new and innovative ideas.
Creativity is the process of using your surroundings to spark innovation, which is why people rarely up with fresh ideas holed up in a room by themselves.
That’s why it’s important to constantly encourage conversations amongst team members, whether it’s in the form of brainstorms, meetings, or even lunchtime discussions. Being in the office all the time also gets stale, so it’s also crucial to change up the environment once in a while - which explains why many teams regularly have off sites or experience fun activities together.
At Blueboard, we have monthly team events where one person plans out a fun experience for the office to do together. Whether it’s a fencing class or a bingo night, these experiences are a great way to switch it up and get out of the office.
With these tips, you can have a more positive mindset when it comes to teamwork. Because, while challenging, teamwork is a tool with a ton of benefits that will ultimately set everyone up to be more successful. If you found this article helpful, be sure to share it with the rest of your team members and download Blueboard’s ebook on how to increase employee motivation.