If you read my previous blog Why Cultivate a Culture of Teamwork?, you’ll understand the benefits of a truly collaborative working culture for your business.
But how do you actively cultivate this type of culture?
Whilst teamwork ought to come naturally to us (it is afterall, how our ancient ancestors approached all areas of life in order to keep themselves well and alive!, many of us have unlearnt this natural skill in recent decades.
Here are eight considerations for cultivating a culture of teamwork.
- VALUE IT
Firstly, like with any valuable change to the business, you need to truly recognise its value for the business. Whilst it could be argued that effective teamwork is preferable to people working independently in any business, the reasons it is desired in one business will differ from the reasons it’s desired in another.
Identify specifically how teamwork will enhance the working environment, increase the peoples’ motivation, or improve the results in YOUR business. Once you identify that something is important and why, it becomes a ‘value’ and values drive culture.
- DOCUMENT IT
Values drive culture, but different people have different values, so when seeking to create a culture of teamwork, it’s essential to document the values that are shared amongst the people in the business.
A business will have many values, but there will be five or six that stand above the rest and these are the core values – the ones that drive the people in the business to achieve.
Identify and document these core values and make sure that Teamwork (or another word or phrase that means or incorporates teamwork) is one of them.
- COMMUNICATE IT
Documenting Teamwork as a value is important, but many businesses have values that are documented but that the people in the business don’t know about and therefore don’t live and breath. A value is only a value if it is truly valued by the people in the business, otherwise it is simply a word or phrase that has no real meaning and therefore impact.
Define what you mean by teamwork by documenting the specific behaviours that you’d expect to be exhibited when teamwork is present. Update handbooks and websites and refer to teamwork, using the documented definitions, at all meetings and in everyday conversation.
- DEMONSTRATE IT
Knowing that teamwork is valued will naturally influence the ethos (the principles of a culture), but culture itself is evident in behaviour and so it’s essential that everyone in the business, and especially the leaders, actively demonstrates teamwork in what they say and do and in how they interact with people, both in and out of the business.
Make sure leaders walk the talk by exhibiting teamwork behaviours at all times: be consultative and ask people their view, play your part and expect others to play theirs and do this all of the time, even at times when things aren’t going according to plan and the temptation to ‘pull rank’ rears its head.
- RECRUIT BASED ON IT
Leading the value of teamwork by demonstrating it will influence how the other people in the business behave, but what about those who have not yet joined the business? You want all future team members to share the value of teamwork and so you want to begin to recruit with teamwork in mind.
Amend all job descriptions so that they include team working as a key desired attribute with a description of what that means in YOUR business. Write a culture statement to accompany all job adverts, which describes the culture and specifically the teamwork element, so that it attracts people who genuinely value being part of a team and working in a collaborative way, and so that it detracts those who don’t.
Build the value of teamwork into interviews by asking competency-based questions that enable the person to demonstrate, with stories of previous scenarios, where they exhibited team work. And, communicate that teamwork is valued in this business and therefore measured and rewarded and that people who don’t work well in this type of environment don’t tend to stay with the company. Don’t be frightened to allow people to deselect themselves!
- MEASURE IT
Recruiting teamworkers will improve teamworking no end. Equally, some people will join the business with a different understanding of teamwork to the one those in your business has.
Adapt your performance management process so that it places emphasis on teamwork. Incorporate 360 degree feedback into the process to enable colleagues to comment on each others team working behaviour and during 1-2-1’s and reviews and team meetings, ask questions like: How have you demonstrated teamwork this week? Who would you like to thanks/acknowledge for great teamwork this month? What specific results have been enhanced by teamwork?
- REWARD IT
When teamwork is measured with the same level of importance as results, it will become a focus for the people in the business to actively improve their teamworking ability. However, nothing promotes behaviour more than praising and rewarding it.
Make teamwork a key skill requirement for advancement and promotion. Make it so that the person who brings in lots of business, but who works in isolation isn’t valued anymore than the person who achieves results through teamwork. Make it so that financial rewards attached to successful outcomes are shared amongst the team and intentionally share stories that emphasise teamwork: “Isn’t it great how the accounts team have reduced the payroll errors by 20% by working together?”
- INVEST IN IT
Remember, teamwork can be counter-intuitive for some and even for those for whom it isn’t, it takes time to build a true team and to create the conditions to enable people to learn to and fully leverage the value to the business and the people, of working collaboratively.
Like anything that has value and longevity, this requires making it a strategic focus and allocating time and resources to making it reality.
Invest in teamwork continually, and you’ll cultivate a culture of teamwork – it’s that simple.
And then watch your business and your people flourish.