Some might hear the word “teamwork” and cringe. Well, we’re going to explain why teamwork is important in all aspects of your business or company.
Putting together a team can be tricky, as you need the right balance of skills and personalities for it to work. However, it truly is worth the effort, as not only does it encourage traits like creativity and innovation, but it also increases productivity and efficiency.
The Harvard Business Review states that for a team to be effective, there needs to be certain “enabling conditions”. A team needs to be diverse, disperse, digital and dynamic — or a 4-D team, as they call it. A team needs direction from a leader that, among other things, energizes and encourages them, and if these “conditions” are met, then there’s a high chance of a successful team. While you might need to work on improving teamwork within your organization, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
In this article, we explain the importance of teamwork in the workplace and how it can positively affect your employees and business. So, let’s get stuck in!
1. It encourages problem solving
When a group of people work together in a team, they naturally solve problems more efficiently. While one might think of something in one way, another team member might see things from a totally different perspective, meaning that issues are solved more quickly with various inputs and opinions.
In fact, a study led by Dr Patrick Laughlin of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showed that “groups of three, four or five perform better on complex problem solving than the best of an equivalent number of individuals”. This means that encouraging groups to work as a team at work will lead to better — and more efficient — problem solving.
2. It fosters creativity
If your employees are sitting on their own and working in silence, there’s a high chance they’re struggling to come up with something creative. Encouraging employees to brainstorm together, while being open and communicative, helps foster a sense of creativity among the team.
To be creative means to create new ideas and concepts — something that is much easier to do when you have people around you that also want to create a solution. Creativity can be learned and improved with practice, but you can shorten the process by allowing (and encouraging) employees to work together to create something new and exciting.
3. It helps teams be more innovative
Innovation can be tricky when working on your own. To be able to innovate, you need to know the ins and outs of a process or system in order to learn how to improve it. Working with others means employees have a larger pool of knowledge to draw from and, together, they can come up with new processes and systems that ultimately improve the way the company runs.
When it comes to innovation, teamwork is crucial. Every company should encourage innovation if they want to dominate their field, and allowing your employees to work together encourages better outcomes all round.
4. It creates healthy competition
Imagine: you’ve got a big client that needs a project completing — fast. You decide to set up two teams, and each team needs to work together to complete the project. This creates a healthy dose of competition between the teams, and you could even add in an incentive to help encourage them.
5. It builds stronger relationships
There’s no doubt that working closely with others helps to create stronger relationships. When employees work together, they discover more about the people they’re sharing an office with, including how they work, what they like, what their strengths are, and also their weaknesses.
By forming these stronger relationships, your company will see higher productivity, and team members will improve their interpersonal skills as they learn to communicate effectively with others.
6. It creates a happy work environment
For the most part, working with others creates a happier workforce. It prevents employees from feeling isolated, which can lead to workplace depression and other mental health issues. Effective teamwork creates happy employees in an energized work environment, which ultimately leads to higher productivity. Humans are social creatures, after all, so putting them in a position where they can communicate and collaborate will create much better results.
7. It reduces stress
When one team works toward a common goal, the stress of a project or role is lower. If each team member has a specific task and deadline, they can focus on their own task, while all working toward the same outcome. This, obviously, reduces their stress, as their workload is broken down into manageable chunks that can then be compiled together.
8. It opens up communication
When people are working in a team, their communication skills often improve. This is because they have to explain their ideas and reasons with their peers. Employees are less likely to get crossed wires when it comes to what needs to be done, as they’ll be working closely and communicating with each other on a day-to-day basis.
It also means there will be fewer mistakes — or mistakes will be found more quickly — because the team is communicating about the project, and any issues that arise can be dealt with quickly before they get out of hand.
9. It encourages diversity
Every employee will have different skillsets and talents, and this is a great tool to have in your arsenal. By encouraging people with diverse backgrounds to work together, you’re bringing in different skill levels and alternate knowledge to your team. What’s the benefit of this? Well, the team will see things from a different perspective and may even learn something from their coworkers in the process. It’s a win-win situation.
10. It helps people to learn
Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson says that “individuals who learn to team well acquire knowledge, skills and networks”. Learning new skills is important in every industry, and it shows how working in a team can actually encourage people to develop their professional skills further, as well as improve their teamwork skills at the same time.
When people get to know who they’re working with, it can open up doors to other opportunities, too, as their professional network grows and expands.
11. It gives structure
Every workplace needs structure in order to work efficiently. The same principle applies to teamwork. Each team needs to be structured well, and to the employees’ strengths. It’s no good assigning someone to a tech-based team when their strengths lie in marketing.
Everyone needs to know their role and what’s expected of them, so the structure of the team is important. There should be a balance of skills, both technical and social, for the team to be successful. If this doesn’t happen, then the team won’t reach the high levels of performance required.
12. It gives you the opportunity to lead
Being a leader can be tough. You need to gain your employees’ respect, motivate them and still be approachable and empathetic. By creating a team and encouraging teamwork, it gives you the opportunity to flex your leadership muscles, track employee performance and prove just how good your leadership skills are.
You might need to delegate, or you could have to step in when there are disagreements, but each of these situations will give you the opportunity to show why you’re the leader. Lead the team to success and help them achieve a high level of performance — it looks good on you, too!
13. It creates accountability
Independent workers often have low morale and lack a sense of accountability. Working together with a team creates the accountability they’re lacking. This is probably because each team member has a job to do, and if one person doesn’t complete their part of the job, the others’ work will be useless. Nobody wants that hanging over their head.
Having accountability means that teams are more likely to meet their deadlines, finish their tasks and meet their goals, as they don’t want to let their team (or you) down.
14. It eliminates a toxic work environment
Drama, low morale, fighting, gossiping — none of these toxic work culture traits should be welcome in your company. Teamwork usually eradicates these from the office, as people are communicating more openly, have a shared goal to aim for and are being more productive, which leaves less time for office gossip and drama.
There may be times when arguments arise, but it’s your job to manage the situation and diffuse any arguments. After all, we’re all adults, and conflict resolution is (usually) part of your job description.
15. It reduces employee turnover
Many people prefer working together in a team than working on their own. In fact, a study showed that 99.1% of participants preferred a working environment where people discuss issues and situations truthfully.
Companies that don’t understand the importance of teamwork will eventually struggle to operate efficiently, causing employees to look elsewhere for a rewarding career. Whereas if an employee can fulfil their duties quickly and efficiently, they’re less likely to get frustrated and leave.
The importance of teamwork has been debated for decades, but let’s face it: there aren’t many downsides. While some introverts might cower at the thought of working in a team, it ultimately leads to higher productivity and efficiency.
Here are a few key points to remember:
- A team needs a leader. Make sure you’re supportive and understanding of their needs if you want the team to be a success.
- Creating a diverse team leads to a higher success rate. Utilize the different people, skills and tools you have to create the strongest team you can.
- Teamwork reduces stress for your employees. By splitting tasks into manageable chunks, the work gets done and everyone is happier.
If you have a large project coming up, try to think about the skills of your existing employees, and work out which part of the project would best suit them. Delegate these tasks within your team, collaborate together and watch the project blossom into something great.
Can you think of any other benefits of encouraging teamwork in the workplace? Let us know in the comments section below.
Originally published in February 2016.