Money & Career

Fostering teamwork

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

Fostering teamwork

One of the recent trends in the workplace has been the increased emphasis on teamwork. In fact, a popular question in job interviews is "Do you work well in a team?"

Studies have shown that involving employees in the decision-making process and increasing their level of shared responsibility can lead to increased quality of work and productivity.

1. Create a great team
Creating a team does not mean throwing together a bunch of people and saying "go". Certain conditions need to exist in order to build a healthy and productive team, such as:
• A partnership between employees and management.
• A cohesive group consisting of people who will get along and work cooperatively.
• Regular team meetings that give members a sense of belonging and help develop a shared work ethic.
• Feedback and rewards, so members can communicate concerns and acknowledge accomplishments. This positive activity is often overlooked in the workplace.
• Agreement on the basic goals of the team and how they will be accomplished.

2. Learn by example
Other ways to create a healthy, productive team involve learning from others. For instance, you can bring in guest speakers and visit successful team-based organizations. You can also swap duties from time to time in order to understand your coworker's dilemmas.

Brian Waterman, a community recreation coordinator for Toronto Parks and Recreation, often leads team-building workshops to help his staff develop a strong team spirit. He suggests using problem-solving exercises to help team members learn about the ups and downs of working together. Feelings are shared and possible improvements to their teamwork are discussed. According to Waterman, "A good team player is an attentive listener, has creative abilities, shows initiative and is willing to help others."

3. Be considerate of your teammates
It is helpful to be sensitive when a member of the team is struggling with a personal problem. Develop a strategy for the team to compensate until the individual has recovered.

In spite of your efforts, you might find yourself locked in a personality conflict with a fellow teammate. Even if you don't like this person, treat him or her with respect. Feelings often follow actions.

4. Deal with change
Teams often become dysfunctional during times of transition. It's important to keep in mind that change is difficult for all groups. Make a concerted effort not to take it out on a new team member. Be a mentor instead.

Teamwork can be both rewarding and productive when you're working with people who challenge and respect one another.

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