Teamwork in the workplace is definitely not what it used to be once upon a time. Today, there are lots of conversations about effective teamwork in the workplace on the Internet. Managers and supervisors are scratching their heads to find better solutions.
They are practically running out of ideas to inspire teamwork. There’s definitely an attitude shift. And it doesn’t seem like the problem will ever go away soon. It’s a harsh reality that most companies have to face today.
According to an article written two years ago on CNN Money about employee’s new year’s resolution, 84% of employees said that they plan to look for a new position next year. Why is that?
Well, the main reason is, there are too many disruptive changes happening too fast. Employees are more cynical and less engaged. Needless to say, morale is at an all time low.
Basically, many employees are somewhat disappointed. They woke up one day and found a radically different kind of workplace than they signed up for.
Because of their disappointment, they are now showing up with a lack of concerns. Simply put, they just don’t care anymore. Instead of thriving in the company, they are merely surviving.
As you might imagine, when people are surviving, they are not thinking about the teamwork. They are rather looking out to keep their heads above the water.
If you have a sense your employees are at the survival mode, you have an emergency to deal with. And you need to find a way to remedy the situation right away.
Back in the 80s I was a new and broke immigrant in Miami, Florida. I didn’t speak any English. I was about 22 years old. Since I never had a job before, it was hard for me to find work anywhere. After months of looking, I landed a job as an assembly worker at a plant.
The name of the company was Reeves Brothers. I have no idea if they are still around. What I remember for sure is that they had an emergency to deal with. Employee morale was in the basement. Most of the guys I worked with didn’t care at all.
Reeves Brothers had a contract to make a special foam box for IBM to ship their computers. At the time, personal computers were just introduced.
On my assembly line, there were about 30 of us. My job was to spray the glue really fast on one side of the foam while the conveyor belt was moving.
Someone else would spray on the other side. Then, there were others on the line to flip the foam pieces, patch them together, inspect the boxes, and stack them for the shipping guys. It was a very busy environment.
It’s Frustrating When You’re Doing Your Part And Your Co-workers Are Slacking
I was a very dedicated employee. I came to work on time and did my job to the best of my ability. I was really happy I had a job! However, many of the guys on the line were slackers. They didn’t have the drive to work. They were surviving. They showed up just for the money.
I remember how the line was often backed up. Pieces of foams would be pushing and rolling on top of each other. The guys were so slow and disengaged. A few of them would give me the mean look as if I were making their job harder than it should be.
We were required to output so many boxes every thirty minutes. However, we were always behind. And everyone, including me, were blamed for not meeting expectations.
My manager was exhausted and frustrated. He could figure out how to motivate the team and boost morale. And, his job was on the line. I did try everything within my power to help. But he needed the entire team to step up to the plate.
If you are a manager or supervisor reading this, you know the importance of teamwork. Maybe your situation is not the same as my former manage. However, I suspect you have some challenges to deal with as it relates to teamwork in the workplace. So, let me reveal to you…
5 Proven And Tested Strategies To Inspire Effective Teamwork In The Workplace
Strategy #1: Authentically Show Them You Care
Now, notice I didn’t say tell them you care. I purposely ask you to show them you care. There are many managers that say they care. Yet, their behavior is completely different.
When your team members feel that you sincerely care about them, they reciprocate. They start doing things to make you look good. In fact, you can boost employee motivation for your team by the very fact you genuinely show them you care. Here a few ideas for you:
Those that understand the pains, fears and frustrations others rule the world!
Find out what are their pains, fears, frustrations, and ambitions. I bet you now there are employees on your team that have been with the company for a longtime and no one has ever asked them about their ambitions for the future.
Not long ago, I had a conversation with a woman who worked for IBM. She told me her manager would never care to learn about her ambition. She went on to explain to me that the same manager was jealous and didn’t want anyone to move up. Simply put, her manager was a roadblock.
Let me tell you, when employees have a sense that you care enough to be their advocate when an opportunity becomes available, they will move mountains for you.
Another way to show them that you care is to simply do tiny random acts of kindness for them. Do something that makes them feel good. As Maya Angelou said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”
Strategy #2: Tell Them Your Expectations
As a manager or supervisor, your job is let your team members know what your expectations are. Have you ever been disappointed before? Would you like to know why? It’s because disappointments are the result of someone not meeting your expectations.
Be very explicit about what you expect. Never assume you are working with mind readers. I once worked for a supervisor who had a terrible habit of communicating what he wanted. Sometimes he would say, “You know exactly what I mean. Don’t you?”
Look, if you feel frustrated that you are not getting what you expect, it’s because you’re failing to communicate clearly your expectations. I want to challenge you on this. I want you to question yourself. Answer this for yourself, “Am I clearly communicating what I expect from my team”?
What I’m essentially saying here is not to let your team in the dark. The more they know and understand what is expected of them, the more likely they will deliver.
Think of this way: When you’re frustrated and disappointed, you radiate a certain kind of negative attitude. And that sends a negative signal to your team members. As a result, the morale of you team can be affected. What’s the solution?
Politely tell them with a caring attitude what your expectations are. By the way, you should also find out what they expect from you as well. You probably have people on your team that are moaning and complaining about you. Yet, you have no idea why they feel the way they feel.
Strategy #3: Get Into The Cockpit
Your team members MUST know how they are doing while they are working hard to reach a milestone or meet a goal. Tell the team collectively and individually how they are doing. Be their pilot in the cockpit of the workplace.
I think of feedback like the airplane pilot. I travel a lot to keynote conferences all over North America. Sometimes I go overseas. Those trip can be really long. Do you want to know what I really appreciate about my pilot?
I absolutely love it when they talk to the passengers over the intercom. Don’t you also love it when the pilot tells you what’s going on? I bet you do!
“Good afternoon Delta passengers. This is captain George. I want to assure you that in you are in good hands. Together, my co-pilot Andy and I have 30 years of flying experience. We will do everything possible to make your flight smooth and enjoyable. In case we encounter any unforeseen bumps during the flight, I will get on the intercom explain to you what’s going on.”
Yes! Doesn’t that really make you feel great? When I hear something like that, I ask for a pillow so I can take nap. I know I’m in good hands.
On the other hand, there are pilots that never say anything. The airplane is bouncing up and down like a basket ball. Not a word. Nothing. That’s really scary! Right? Then You get to your destination and the pilot says, “Did you enjoy your flight?”.
You see, to your team members, you are the pilot. You need to constantly keep them in the loop. When you get into rough patch, tell them what’s going on. When things are good, praise them for a job well done.
The big question for you is this: Are you giving your team enough feedback? If you answer yes, how often do you do so? Think about it.
Strategy #4: Give Them A Little Biscuit
I remember watching a dog trainer training a puppy. He had a bunch of biscuits with him. Every time the dog did the trick, he would give it a treat. He told me that the puppy will keep repeating the good behaviors because it knows the rewards are coming.
Now, I know you are not training dogs. You are working with human beings that are being paid to do their job. But, did you know that money is not the number motivator for employees in the workplace?
In the last few years, here at Workplace Satisfaction, we conducted a poll to find out what it takes to keep employees happy in the workplace. The overwhelming majority of the people we poll told us the number one motivator for them in the workplace is appreciation.
In other words, they want to know you appreciate their efforts. I can understand. In fact, the entire human race thrive on attention and appreciate. It’s a fundamental human need. Simply put, when people are under appreciated, they tend to shrink instead of glowing.
Appreciation is the best employee motivation idea!
It’s when you let your team members know that you truly appreciate and value their contribution to the team and the company.
When I say reward good behavior, I don’t mean to give them an award or plaque. Although it would be a great idea. What I mean is, give them something as simple as a sincere compliment or a handwritten thank-you card for a job well done.
As a matter of fact, you can boost productivity and team performance simply by rewarding good behaviors. Get into the habit of celebrating your team. Hey, if they huddle and stay late to get the job done and you have a miscellaneous budget, order them some pizza. Show your appreciation.
Strategy #5: Enroll Them As Your Create-creators
This is, in my opinion, one of THE most powerful leverage you can use to influence your team members. People value and feel proud of what they create or help create. The takeaway here is never leave your team members out of the decision-making process.
The bottom line is…
people support what they help create.
When someone participates in creating something, they will follow through every time.
“You can rise to become a powerful and amazing leader in your company if you truly understand this co-creation concept.”
Instead of dictating what you want, simply invite your team members to take part and help you create it. Empower them by giving them the opportunity to contribute. Then, make sure you give them proper credit. I know that’s hard to do. But, take my word for it. In the end, the credit will come back to you.
Putting people in the right positions so they can shine and receive proper credit can a lot of good to you as a manager or supervisor.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen top executives in big companies brainstorming on how to change things. Yet, the ignore the people at the bottom as if they don’t matter. That’s a huge mistake.
For whatever reason, they assume they are the ones with the answers. They create something at the top, and shove it down the throat of the people at the bottom.
Look, if you want to be known as a powerful leader, always enroll your team to co-create with you.
Effective Teamwork In The Workplace Is Not An Accident
I shared a few ideas with you here about teamwork in the workplace. By all means, I have not shared with you everything about the subject. However, I just handed you some of the best ways to inspire teamwork and boost morale.
Starting now, I encourage you start putting in application what you just learned. Maybe you already knew intellectually what I shared with you. Now, I challenge you to become a doer of what you know.
The bottom line is, success is not about doing a bunch of things now and then. It’s about doing a few things consistently.
I look forward to reading your comment. Tell me what’s the one thing you think is missing from this post.