Effective Teamwork in 11 Easy Steps

Effective teamwork is not easy to come by. We've all seen teamwork training mocked on popular television shows like "The Office" because the wrong activity can be viewed as a waste of time, and therefore can be counterproductive. To make sure your teamwork activities are beneficial, you'll want to try to tie the exercises in with actual work or the work environment as much as possible. Truly effective teamwork can lead to improved productivity, better morale and beneficial cooperation. Try out any of these 11 paths to effective teamwork as you build a happier, more efficient work group.

1. Share Added Value
You'll need to establish a baseline level of respect and admiration within your team of employees. Set up meetings where the overall purpose of the department or team is discussed. Focus on what added value each person brings.

2. Build Respect Among Co-Workers
Have each employee share what she brings to the team. Encourage everyone to share what parts of the job she feels is her strength, and promote discussion about how the team works well together, along with what areas could use improvement.

3. Brainstorm Ideas As A Group
Take advantage of quarterly reports or the advent of new projects to pull everyone on your team together for a brainstorming opportunity. Allow everyone in the group to contribute to ideas for streamlining efficiency, stop-gapping waste and improving the workflow process.

4. Establish A Neutral Procedure To Deal With Conflict
Make sure you've established a clear, safe procedure for conflict resolution and complaints. Employees need to know that dissatisfaction will be addressed and problems solved to the best of your ability.

5. Schedule Regular Skip-A-Level Meetings
If you have a multi-level department, make sure you open the door for those on those lower rungs of the department to express how things are going-without the boss there to hear. Make sure you ask the important questions and get the scoop on how employees feel about their work situation.

6. Encourage Opportunities For Employee Socializing
Whether it's a happy hour or a birthday celebration, socializing outside of work allows your employees to view each another more as people and less as adversaries, especially when tensions are running high in the office.

7. Facilitate Open Discussion Among Departments
If department projects intersect, consider holding a function for inter-department discussions regarding upcoming projects. See if you can't head off conflicts before they actually happen by pro-actively brainstorming before the start of projects that will affect two or more departments.

8. Schedule Progress Meetings
Don't let too much time pass as projects progress. Make sure you hold meetings where concerns and developments can be discussed as a group, allowing all voices to be heard. The point of these meetings should be to deal with conflict, smooth out bumps in the process and allow team members to voice concerns.

9. Celebrate Victories As A Team
Look for opportunities to celebrate when teamwork results in progress. Even an afternoon off to go to the local pub or oyster bar can be a fun way to celebrate as a team.

10. Offer Incentives Rewarding Teamwork
If monetary benefits are linked to performance of a project, find a way to share the wealth-whether that is a bonus or a meal out to celebrate-with the whole team.

11. Hire A Teamwork Building Consultant
If your team isn't gelling, consider hiring a consultant to guide your team through some teamwork-building activities. Check references on the consultant beforehand to make sure the training will be worth the cost.

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