Aside from efficient inventory management, teamwork is an incredibly important component of the ‘successful business’ recipe and if left out, the result can be a real flop.

Employees who feel part of a team where people have their back so to speak, and are there to support them, generally feel a lot happier and more positive to their work. Happy, positive people are more proactive and work harder. So this would be a great thing for the company, as you can imagine. But how do you promote teamwork in the workplace where individuals have been used to operating under the premise ‘every man for himself’?

Reward teamwork

Recognition or incentives to promote teamwork is very effective. When teamwork is made to be a focus and a key objective with rewards for when it is achieved, then a clear message is sent and staff can appreciate the importance of it. As with all things, changing an inherent culture that is years-strong can be a tricky business but if you stick to it, with time, change will happen.

Know the person not the employee

It is much easier to feel part of a team and trust your team members when you know them as a person and what makes them tick. Certainly, it is very important to have clear boundaries between work and home for work-life balance, however this should not necessarily extend to bonding with your colleagues. Encourage social activities as a team and bonding outside of work where each man or woman is on a level playing field and comes as a person with a background, interests and passions. In doing so, you will find that the team will function better together and will achieve more success in their work.

Define an objective and individual roles

Now that you have promoted teamwork by incentivising it and creating the opportunity for bonding outside the workplace, it is time to focus on what the team must achieve. Teamwork is a lot more achievable when goals and objectives are clear to everyone. Therefore, it is imperative to define a project focus as a team and then identify individual roles and what each person will achieve with respect to their strengths. In doing this, team members will grow to understand each other’s deadlines and responsibilities, which creates both understanding but also a level of peer pressure which keep the less focused people on track.

A growth spurt can stretch staff time very thin and it can be very stressful, so making it easier for your team to get the work done should be a focus for growth. Implementing an automated, specialised inventory management software package will reduce the big and small frustrations in day-to-day inventory control, and it will let your staff focus more of their energies on growing the business.

Welcome all ideas

Effective communication is the key to any great partnership and the same is true of a team. Encourage good communication by having an open, non-judgemental platform for ideas so that people will feel supported to speak up and voice their ideas. In conjunction with learning to communicate ideas effectively comes the need for effective listening so that those ideas may be heard. Some personalities will find this difficult to do, just as some will find it difficult to voice their opinions appropriately but both should be encouraged in an open and professional manner.

Make every minute count

One of the surest ways to exacerbate the workforce is to utilise their time with unproductive meetings. This is a common occurrence in many workplaces and places more pressure on staff as they have to achieve the same amount of work in less time while the time they had was spent in futility. In fact, a survey conducted by Microsoft Office revealed that professionals spend approximately 3.8 hours in futile meetings. It is not realistic to expect a team to function properly without team meetings, however an investigation into the operational management of Whole Foods Market showed that ensuring status reports are written and distributed prior to the meeting allows colleagues to be up-to-date with the status of projects and endeavours prior to the meeting so that each hour spent as a team can be used effectively for strategic decision-making.

No-blame game

It is inevitable that with many personalities working together, there will be issues. However these can be used a strength and do not need to spell disaster for the team, they simply need to be managed effectively. Encourage direct communication between individuals so that issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Foster a no-blame environment so that the focus remains on the individuals finding a solution that is acceptable to all parties involved. Ensure all disputes are clearly and respectively dealt with while being documented every step of the way. By encouraging staff to resolve things themselves with the objective to be a well-functioning team, you are empowering them and creating a respectful, open and collaborative environment.