Teams are built piece by piece. Care should always be taken to find people who will fit into the culture of the workplace, but skills are often the overriding concern. You need to hire the best candidates available to you, and nurture that talent along the way. But investing in the time to boost teamwork is essential to bringing those talented people together, and to making them into more than just the sum of their parts.
Small teams can go a long way. With the right product and a clear focus on ambitious (but achievable) goals, a young company can grow up fast. But everyone will have to work together to get there. There are no exceptions.
Boost teamwork in five easy steps
Young companies rely on creativity, commitment, and passion. Increasing how you function as a team can harness these things in a powerful way.
People are more creative when they have the time and space to think more freely, and when they can find inspiration in the people around them. Commitment to the cause and passion for the project come hot on the heels of overall job satisfaction. And they are often the result of buying into the company’s mission and what the group as a whole is aiming to achieve.
Here are five surefire (and simple) ways to fuel collaboration and boost teamwork among the people at your company.
1/ Eat together
The team that eats together, stays together.
The trick to working effectively with people is knowing them inside out. Sharing meals can be the most natural way to get to get acquainted with each other’s personality.
Regular communal lunches and breakfasts can help people get to know their colleagues in a more social – and relaxed – environment. People shouldn’t have to get to know one another while sitting at a desk.
Eating together regularly (and in an appropriately-sized space) ensures that everyone can actually benefit from the break. By re-charging batteries and resting busy brains, rather than rushing out or eating lunch at a desk, people end up working better in the afternoons anyway.
2/ Brainstorm with intelligence
Your company probably relies on creativity and ideation to find a competitive edge and innovate new solutions to old problems. So don’t just sit around and hope “being creative” will kick in on its own.
There are many methods for structuring and harnessing ideation and creativity. Approaches to brainstorming such as ‘Method 635’ or the ‘Disney Method’ not only help generate and refine new ideas but can also boost teamwork and be a lot of fun.
The Disney Method, for example, involves designating three separate rooms as places for ‘fantasizing,’ ‘re-examining’ and ‘criticizing’. Each idea will be subjected to each of these mindsets. While Method 635 encourages six people to share three instinctive and quick solutions to a problem, but in five consecutive sessions of 3 minutes. (That’s a lot of ideas in just a quarter of an hour).
3/ Get a Fussball table
It’s likely you have a competitive bunch of people, so what better than to burn off some of that energy around a Fussball table? Games are short and help refresh the mind and provide a welcome distraction from whatever task might be getting on your nerves.
If you play in teams there’s the added extra of collaboration in there. Organizing mini-tournaments from time to time can be a way for everyone to get involved in something fun.
But ultimately this is a way to reduce the tension in an office and let light-hearted competition builds bonds between colleagues.
4/ Make voices horizontal
No one knows a company like its employees do. And a multi-talented team of passionate individuals can contribute to more than just their specific area of expertise.
If everyone’s voice counts, and everyone’s opinion is valued on its merit, then better, more informed decisions will be made.
This might make things slightly more complicated, and might disrupt the orthodoxy some people are used to. But it will prioritize teamwork and collaboration over the opinion of just one individual. Two (or more) heads are almost always better than one, as long as you still have a fluent and efficient decision-making process in place.
5/ Help people communicate
Nothing slows down collaboration like communication bottlenecks. Being able to interact fluidly is at the heart of teamwork.
Using a team collaboration app, such as one of these we’ve reviewed previously, can help supplant the deadening effect of sending emails and waiting around for replies. Group chats and instant messaging help keep online interaction quick and effective.
Lastly, make sure people always have somewhere to go when they want to talk. People who work together should sit together, but everyone and anyone can still be disturbed by nearby conversations. Trying to boost teamwork needn’t come at the expense of other people’s concentration.
There’s more where these came from. We’ve published a follow-up blog: five more ways teams can increase collaboration.