A successful culture of teamwork can be characterized as an environment marked by the shared belief that the organization can move forward most effectively when collaboration and cooperation are at the heart of thinking, planning and decision making.
Some of the benefits of creating and fostering an effective culture include:
Building an environment conducive to teamwork is a process requiring a plan and specific activities to support acceptance of a collaborative orientation. The plan itself must express goals for building the teams and management’s expectations for their work and performance. It must identify events, rewards or incentives to solidify support of this culture. Progress against the plan should be monitored and measured. Also, employees’ feedback on how the plan is proceeding is an important measure that can’t be neglected. The plan and the end objective must therefore be communicated openly and frequently with employees.
Direction must be set from the top for the shift in this direction to take hold. Senior management is responsible for more than just communicating the value and need for a culture of collaboration. They need to be models for the kinds of behaviors they want to see take hold, even when circumstances might make it expedient to slip back into a more individualistic mode.
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Successfully growing a culture like this requires setting up a system that demonstrates and recognizes contributions and performance on individual and group levels. It requires establishing an understanding of the consequences, ensuring employees take on responsibility and accountability for team achievements. Recognizing and rewarding individual and team performance are important. For many people, public recognition of a job well done carries almost as much weight as a share in financial gains that the business might experience as a result of this cultural shift. The system should ensure that people who contribute to teamwork success experience a tangible reflection of the impact that it has on the organization’s increased success.
Team building activities go a long way toward reinforcing the behaviors that build a team culture. The most effective are those that are seamlessly incorporated into the larger teamwork effort and are practiced every day. For example, training and development can be provided in systematic ways while the team actually comes together to solve real work issues. Meetings should be held to review projects and progress of various teams in a department. These offer broader input, and the opportunity to examine work processes that are mutually owned.
Creating fun occasions, such as sponsoring sports teams or organizing lunchtime potlucks, can also help lighten things up and bring teams even closer together.
The culture of teamwork is one that businesses of all sizes and in all sectors seek to grow in their organizations. A well-conceived plan, embraced and championed by senior management, combined with consistent and clear communications about the objectives and outcomes, and a rational system of rewards can form its basis and lead to greater business success.