For business leaders, having a strong team is essential for the success of their organization, especially if your teams are dispersed, deskless or remote. But how can you ensure that your team is performing at their best, wherever and however they work? How can you truly improve teamwork in the modern workplace?
The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how to improve teamwork in the workplace. The best thing you can do is experiment with many different methods until you figure out what works for your workers’ needs. That’s why we created a list of strategies for you to choose from.
So, how can you improve workplace teamwork?
This post covers 22 creative ideas to consider, plus discusses the differences in improving teamwork for frontline teams.
Improving Teamwork in Frontline Teams vs Desk-Based Teams
It's important to acknowledge that there are key differences in ways of improving teamwork depending on whether your team is desk-based or on the frontline.
With desk-based teams, developing better teamwork skills might involve setting clear goals, implementing agile project management techniques, and creating an inclusive work culture. You’re likely going to be able to have regular and easy face-to-face meetings to keep team members engaged and up to date on team projects. Your tactics for improving teamwork, therefore, become a little more straightforward and almost naturally occur.
Frontline employees, on the other hand, require a bit more attention and thought. Frontline workers aren’t going to be sitting at their screens all day, and they may not meet in a central location like an office. This is why you may need to implement specific teamwork tactics for this group of employees.
For example, you might focus on workflow optimization and really driving efficient two-way communication between teams and leaders in order to compensate for the lack of a central location and “office chit-chat.” Tightening your comms between the frontline and desk-based teams ensures everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal.
Whether you’re managing a frontline or desk-based team, what really matters is that you listen to the direct needs of your workers. What does their day-to-day life at work look like? How can you provide your teams with the right tools to succeed as a team, wherever they may be working from? The creative ideas outlined in this guide should help you brainstorm some out-of-the-box solutions for improving teamwork in your workplace.
How to improve teamwork: First steps for leaders
Using the innovative tips we've outlined for you below, you can inform your regional managers, team leaders, and line managers, so they can start implementing these ideas with their respective teams. But before jumping straight into the fun, get-your-hands-dirty type of team building, it's important for leadership to lay down some groundwork.
Here are our first steps for business leaders looking to improve teamwork in their workplace:
- Clearly define team goals, roles, and responsibilities
- Communicate openly and frequently
- Foster a culture of accountability and support
- Find the right employee app to support your workforce.
With these initial tips in mind, let’s move on to our official list of 22 innovative ways to improve teamwork in the workplace.
22 innovative ideas to improve team performance
1. Involve team leaders in corporate communication
Leadership is a crucial driver of teamwork. For teams to work effectively, objectives need to be clearly defined. Competing projects and responsibilities pull most team members in different directions (see the corporate communications strategy tool).
For example, leaders in the manufacturing industry can often be stationed on the factory floor, where they may not have easy access to company-wide communications. This can lead to a disconnect between their team and overarching company goals.
It’s up to leaders to set the bigger picture so they can set priorities. Ensure leadership is involved in internal comms planning so employees at all levels across multiple teams can understand the overarching company goal towards which they’re working. If all team members understand their place in the bigger picture, it will help motivate and align their efforts towards a common goal.
2. Avoid cringe-worthy team-building exercises
Google search "how to improve teamwork in the workplace" and you’ll inevitably encounter weird team-building experiences. Primal scream workshops, extreme exercise, and trust falls can induce a collective bout of nausea. Formal (and compulsory) events are no longer on-trend.
What’s in? Building team spirit via voluntary social events in low-pressure, informal spaces.
The bonds employees form over lunch out on the town will carry over into the workplace. You can use an employee app like Blink to coordinate these types of outings more easily.
3. Create teamwork recognition programs
Rewarding successful collaboration creates an incentive for people to do so more frequently. Collaboration is significant for deskless and frontline employees who might not feel like part of the team.
Find ways to publicly acknowledge the hard work of effective teams, whether by giving them an award in front of their peers or by sharing their wins in a writeup. Teams who win together will continue to work well together.
Teamwork recognition programmes will be especially important for frontline or remote teams, as they may not receive that natural praise that occurs in an in-person or office setting unless it is directly communicated with them.
In fact, employee engagement statistics show that nearly 4 in 10 (37%) frontline workers don’t feel as valued as their desk-based colleagues. One solution to this is to provide an employee app with a recognition feature, such as Blink’s Colleague Recognition.
By providing direct tools that enhance recognition or Kudos between team members, leaders can increase collaboration, job satisfaction and more natural engagement.
4. Clarify ownership early on
Teamwork is challenging when people aren’t sure what their roles are. Ambiguity can lead to resentment, arguments, or even delayed projects. So, clearly document the scope of each role from the get-go. And make sure that documentation is accessible to everyone, so that when questions arise, they’re easy to answer.
For example, Blink users can store this information in the Hub. This allows workers that are frequently on the go to have easy access to job responsibilities and sets the tone for role ownership.
5. Make communication a two-way Street
Teamwork only works when team members feel like they can speak openly, share ideas without getting shot down (and build on those of others), make suggestions, and voice their opinions.
Make sure communication isn’t just flowing downward, but also upward and between team members. Multi-way communication is the goal. A communication tool that allows employees to engage in two way conversations with each other and with management is a great way to facilitate this.
6. Know who does what
Outlining clear roles isn’t enough to keep teams operating smoothly. The next step is figuring out who is responsible for what work (on what timelines). Get the team together to outline skill-sets and create project workflows and deadline charts. Oh, and make sure everyone's present when the discussion happens. That way, team members can call out unrealistic expectations of them.
7. Have a clear organizational purpose
Every member of a team should be clear on what the long-term goals of the company are. This ensures the team projects are purpose-driven and valuable, have clearly defined and measurable objectives, and that everyone on the team moves in the same direction.
Having a purpose-driven team impacts engagement levels, productivity, and innovation. When team members have a clear understanding of why they’re doing what they do, they are more likely to feel motivated and inspired to work towards that purpose.
If your company doesn’t have a clearly defined purpose or mission statement, now is the time to create one. This initiative can be guided through brainstorming sessions or employee surveys, and can be stored in an easy-to-access, mobile Hub for on-the-go guidance.
8. Set clear team goals
When you're talking about improving teamwork in the workplace, the importance of clearly defined objectives can't be overstated. Teamwork is basically impossible in an environment where no one is sure what the team is working toward. You need to be sure that everyone on every team is on the same page.
To help with this, you can establish team processes that guide behavior and decision making towards meeting your goals. Whether that means letting other project members know the status of your work, or always speaking up if you see a problem that could affect the team’s success, setting clear expectations helps team members work better together.
An employee app like Blink can keep each team member on the same page and working towards the same goal with secure direct chats, the Blink feed for key updates and a central hub for storing policies, procedures, and guides in one convenient place.
9. Identify communication problems
Doing an internal comms assessment may seem like a strange way to bolster teamwork, but remember that effective collaboration can’t happen without effective communication. Addressing communications pain points and sources of strife (e.g., failure to meet deadlines, unresponsiveness, and interpersonal issues) in your organization proactively will make it easier for all of your employees to collaborate in the future.
To better identify and understand communication problems arising in your teams, particularly on the frontline, you need a way to measure them.
With Blink's Frontline Intelligence feature, you can track powerful engagement analytics to offer insight into the people and relationships that make your organization tick. By understanding who engages with what, and what your teams aren't engaging with, you have the opportunity to spot any potential communication pain points and address them before they become a larger issue
10. Stop micro-managing
Teams should feel like standalone units even as they contribute to your larger organizational goals. If you don't give your teams some degree of autonomy, they won't work as a collective because they'll always be waiting for management to issue orders from on high. As much as possible, let teams set their deadlines, develop their workflows, and work out their issues.
11. Talk less, listen more
There will always be give and take on teams, but the giving and the taking eventually has to balance out, or resentment will build up, and work will slow down. Ensure your company culture rewards listeners as much as speakers and sets a good example by being a listener yourself.
You can also give those whose ideas and opinions would ordinarily be drowned out a voice by encouraging people to share outside of team meetings (on an employee engagement app like Blink, during open-door hours, etc.).
Encouraging a culture of listening will not only have a positive impact on teamwork but on the workplace in general as it will make employees feel valued and increase engagement between team members.
When team members feel heard and their opinions valued, they’re more likely to contribute and collaborate effectively. So next time you’re in a meeting or brainstorming session, remember the age-old adage: it’s better to listen than to speak. Your team will thank you for it.
12. Let teams use multiple methods of communication
Different employees communicate in different ways. Some, as noted above, will dominate a meeting. Others prefer to speak one-on-one while others feel most comfortable in a chat room or texts.
Deskless and frontline employees may be most efficient when using an employee app or similar communication tool. In any case, letting teams use whatever forms of communication and communication tools they prefer is another way to ensure that everyone can have their say.
One way to facilitate this is to provide your workforce with a mobile and desktop employee communication app, like Blink, that allows for various forms of communication and feedback within one easy-to-access, flexible platform.
13. Mediate disputes
Some companies approach conflict resolution with a wait-and-see approach, but that doesn't work very well for team members' disputes. Because these disputes can quickly grow into serious issues that interfere with projects, it's necessary for team members to address them proactively. Ensure interpersonal conflicts are written and bring in mediators as required to work through issues between colleagues.
14. Allow flex work
Introverts, early risers, night owls, and caregivers can all be valuable team members, so don’t ignore them when you’re considering how to improve teamwork in the workplace.
Offering employees flex work options like telecommuting and quiet workspaces ensures that your entire workforce can be as productive as possible and take advantage of opportunities to work collaboratively.
Flex work can also have a positive impact on overall employee satisfaction and mental health by improving work life balance and decreasing stress levels.
So consider offering flex work options, along with the right employee engagement tools to keep your team engaged, and see how it improves teamwork in your organization.
15. Use better collaboration tools
Integrated tools like Blink encourage effective teamwork because they put all of the resources employees need to collaborate in one place. There are information management tools, agile project management tools, sharing tools, scheduling tools, team project and task management tools, and admin tools in one place, so teams don’t have to waste a lot of time switching between platforms.
If you are working with a remote team, you may also want to consider adopting a cloud-based desktop virtualization solution such as V2 Cloud, which provides complete access to a full Windows desktop from anywhere, with any device. It’s crucial to have the right infrastructure when working with a hybrid policy to boost better collaboration and productivity.
This enables distributed teams to accordingly give members access to a multi-user Windows operating system with Microsoft Office, Quickbooks cloud hosting and all business applications that employees and consultants require.
16. Ask team members for feedback
Knowledge is power, so if you want to know where your workforce is when it comes to teamwork, why not just ask them? Soliciting feedback doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
Open and honest feedback is a vital cog in the teamwork wheel, especially for frontline workers. If team members feel they have a safe space to share their thoughts and concerns, even when they're out of the office loop, they’ll likely be more engaged and willing to contribute their ideas in future. This can help to guide future team-building processes and be part of your employee engagement strategy.
You can create an anonymous poll in an employee app like Blink or do short interviews with team members to see how projects are coming along. Just be sure you’re committed to taking feedback seriously.
17. Hire wisely
It’s so tempting to fill positions with candidates who have the top qualifications but don’t discount the importance of an applicant’s personality. When you know that a new hire will be working as a part of a team, consider involving that team in the hiring process.
You may know what kind of skills and experience a hire should have, but they will have more insight into how well potential hires will or won’t fit in with existing team members.
18. Start a culture committee
Did your company’s culture develop intentionally? Probably not. Suppose your company culture grew more or less organically and isn’t really supporting teamwork initiatives. In that case, you can create a culture committee to retool your company culture so that it supports collaboration, openness, and other values you deem necessary.
19. Create a mentor program
Team members will work together more effectively when they feel connected. Creating a mentor program that pairs new team members with company veterans promotes cohesiveness and smoother collaboration.And for deskless workers, the benefits of a mentor program reach wider than just your employees.
Studies show that providing coaching and mentoring for frontline practitioners can have a positive mediating impact on outcomes for the children, young people, families and communities who use these services.
20. Meet in different locations
You can cut down on the number of meetings teams have to attend by doing more of your communication in an employee app like Blink, but that doesn't mean you'll never need to have another meeting. When you have to meet, hold meetings in new locations in the office or local cafes or other public spaces. Talking outside of the office can increase productivity, inspire communication, and make team members more creative. Just make sure you’re aware of the risks associated with using public wifi and take appropriate measures to protect yourself from cyberattacks.
21. Create team traditions
When teams have their traditions, and inside jokes, they'll naturally feel a sense of unity. That solidarity will positively impact the work they do, whether in the office or out. Encourage teams to eat lunch or take a coffee break together, or hold a team vs. team board game or video game competition.
This can help to build teamwork skills in a lighthearted and relaxed environment, promoting team collaboration.
22. Mix it up
Teams that have been working together for a long time work better together and may be more productive because of the trust and familiarity that has built up over time. Newly-formed teams, on the other hand, are typically better at coming up with new ideas and making big leaps. Don’t be afraid to shift people around or to form new teams.
You can’t force teamwork. Collaboration is something that happens naturally when conditions are right. Implementing some or all of the ideas above can set the stage for smoother teamwork at your company—resulting in higher productivity (and more profit).
How can the right employee engagement app improve teamwork in the workplace?
As mentioned above, using an employee engagement app can cut down on the number of meetings teams have to attend, allowing them to spend more time actually collaborating and working on projects.
Additionally, having a central place for all company announcements and updates can improve communication between desk-based teams and frontline workers—who make up a whopping 80% of the global workforce.
By facilitating and driving engagement, the best app for business teamwork will enable teams to work together effectively, improve the employee digital experience and help them stay on top of their day-to-day tasks, goals, and communications. By making teamwork easier and more efficient, an employee engagement app can ultimately result in improved productivity and stronger team collaboration, particularly for frontline teams.
Plus with key employee engagement data, analytics and insights available through the Blink platform, your leadership team can always stay on top of whos engaging with what to streamline the employee experience and encourage teamwork.
Why workplace teamwork matters so much
Collaboration is the backbone of business success. In fact, the strengths and dynamics of your team directly affect your business outcomes.
In the modern knowledge economy, productivity often involves working with people from different backgrounds, skill sets, and industries. One mind alone cannot generate solutions to the kinds of large-scale problems companies have to overcome to succeed.
The most successful companies think regularly about how to improve teamwork in the workplace because they know they’ll see a return on their investment. They actively work to create the kinds of conditions that promote collaboration.
Here’s the ROI these organizations see:
Boosted employee engagement
Worker engagement distinctly increases when employees can regularly work together in teams and collaborate. The ADP Research Institute surveyed over 19,000 workers and found that feeling part of a team is a massive factor in employee engagement: those employees who felt like members of a team were more than twice as likely to be fully engaged.
In addition, research by McKinsey shows us that the most engaged workers are those who work in teams. They are twice as likely to be fully engaged as people who work on their own.
Collaboration breeds innovation
When teams work together smoothly, they harness the power of diversity and can come up with ideas an individual might struggle to come up with alone. Alexia Cambon, Director of Research at Gartner, says:
“Our research shows that teams of knowledge workers who collaborate intentionally are nearly three times more likely to achieve high team innovation than teams that do not use an intentional approach.”
As such, it’s important to make sure teams have the right tools and processes in place to collaborate effectively. This might include a live, collaborative Feed for easy access to live updates project materials, a team chat tool for quick communication, and regular check-ins to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Teamwork is faster
Teams that work together also tend to work faster because they can draw upon a wider range of opinions, skills, and experiences, whether they’re making decisions or putting together plans.
Employee teamwork can enable your workforce to:
- Divide difficult tasks into simpler ones, then collaborate to complete them faster
- Develop specialized skills, so that the best person for each task can do it better and faster.
So encourage teamwork in your organization and watch productivity soar. Not only will speed increase, but it will maximize your efficiency and give your team the opportunity to learn and grow.
Simply put, more brains = more productivity
When an entire team is working on a project, that project will move from the design phase into the implementation phase more quickly, and more efficiently –– even with fewer resources.
Teamwork leads to learning opportunities
Working collaboratively gives all team members an opportunity to learn others’ experiences. They gain insight from fresh perspectives and learn new ways of doing things. This can lead to greater job satisfaction, as well as improved morale and productivity over time.
In addition, team projects can serve as valuable development opportunities for individuals’ skills and experience, helping them grow in their careers, and even develop higher levels of loyalty to your business.
“By sharing information and essentially cross training each other, each individual member of the team can flourish,” reports Atlassian.
Collaboration builds confidence
People who work on effective, supportive teams feel valued and appreciated because they know they have something special to offer the team. And as we’ve discussed many times in the past, employees — especially introverted employees — who feel valued are more engaged.
Of course, it’s important to clarify that questions about how to improve teamwork in the workplace aren’t just being asked by employers. Surveys show that most employees consider teamwork very important, even if they’re not sure how to improve collaboration in their workplaces.
In addition, a person who feels valued as part of a team will feel more confident and willing to share their ideas and take calculated risks. Should they stumble, they know they have a team there to lift them back up.
How To Improve Teamwork FAQs
How can you improve teamwork and collaboration?
There isn’t a silver bullet when it comes to improving teamwork and collaboration. The best thing you can do is experiment with different ideas and methods until you find what works best for your business. That’s why we’ve provided 22 different ideas to hopefully inspire you!
What are the 3 most important things needed for effective teamwork?
3 of the most important things needed for effective teamwork are trust, communication & delegation. There are a lot of other things that go into building an effective team, however such as engagement, enjoyment and accountability.
What is the key to successful teamwork?
A successful team is the sum of a lot of moving parts, focus on communicating clearly, delegating tasks correctly, encouraging ownership and accountability, and of course engagement.
Ultimately, fostering a culture of teamwork takes effort, but it’s worth it for improved productivity and satisfaction in the workplace.
By implementing some of these ideas and using an employee engagement app like Blink, your employees will feel more connected, communication will improve, and your team’s collaboration will thrive. Happy teamwork!