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Teamwork in the Workplace: Creating the Conditions

How do you create the conditions for effective teamwork in the workplace? Good team leadership is about creating the conditions that allow ideas and people to flourish, people to come together, to feel empowered, and performance to flow.

When you balance developing people’s strengths, with building good relationships and connections between people, in the pursuit of challenging and meaningful team goals you are moving a long way towards encouraging effective teamwork in the workplace.

These three factors we suggest are central in creating the right conditions:

  • Developing individual strengths
  • Establishing good relationships with others
  • Pursuing worthwhile and meaningful goals

All three aspects have of course been shown to be important to people’s happiness. Focusing on our own strengths particularly when in the pursuit of goals we feel are meaningful to make a difference is a crucial building block for being happier.

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It’s a similar story with our relationships and “connectedness” to others. The strengths of our relationships have repeatedly been found to be the strongest links to finding happiness in life.

So there is a good chance that developing this kind of teamwork in the workplace will also create a happier place to work.

In this article we blend ideas from three of Covey’s 7 habits, (think win-win, seek first to understand and synergize) with three of Senge’s five disciplines, (personal mastery, shared vision and team learning) together with some of our own thoughts.

We end by adapting Csíkszentmihályi’s conditions for creating flow to a team context to develop our approach to creating the conditions for teamwork in the workplace.

Here’s our recipe for effective teamwork in the workplace:

Developing the Strengths of Individuals

  • Ensuring you place a high value on the ideas of others
  • Allowing time to foster creativity
  • Encouraging personal mastery – and personal growth and learning by encouraging the team to “continually expand their ability to create the results in life they truly seek.” (Senge)
  • Building on the strengths of your colleagues in the team
  • Align and blend strengths of individuals so that they complement each other
  • Then let people get on with what they do well -if you do the things above then people will feel empowered to contribute and make an impact

Cultivating Relationships and Friendships

  • Trusting the team to deliver.
  • Develop your own teamwork definition that you all share and fits your context
  • Thinking Win-Win. Consistently seek mutual benefit in what you do. Cultivate an abundance mentality – there is more for everyone and together people can achieve more.
  • Seeking First to Understand. Communication is the most important skill in life. Seek to understand another person’s view first, in order to best put your view forward. To communicate well you must listen first.
  • Developing a shared vision – encouraging personal vision, moving from this to shared vision, spreading this vision and anchoring the vision within a set of governing ideas
  • Align people’s sense of togetherness with the vision of where you are going.

Encouraging Performance to flow

  • Energising team learning – the potential wisdom of teams, where individual talent combines for the benefit of the team and energy and activity is aligned in the same direction;
  • Synergize. Bring together ideas, other people and their views. Do this properly and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • Encourage the team to take on meaningful challenges which are manageable ( high challenge with high skills)
  • Together generate clear goals, that you share and to which you are committed
  • Provide immediate feedback on performance (so that it is clear how well everyone is doing) and encourage others to support and provide feedback to each other.
  • Align strengths with good teamwork in a common direction towards meaningful goals

Teamwork in the Workplace Naturally!

Teamwork is like many things in life. It will grow naturally if the conditions are there. At the heart of effective teamwork in the workplace is the sense of camaraderie and valuing of each other, which means when people come together they deliver more than they would separately, and they are empowered to do it!

Effective teamwork in the workplace happens when three things are in place:

  • Individuals flourish as they use their Strengths
  • People come together building relationships that often become friendships resulting in effective Teamwork
  • Together everyone achieves more as performance flows and Results are achieved

You may have noticed that to bring each of the three aspects together we have emphasised the importance of alignment. Team leaders need to ensure that they align the strengths of individuals, with teamwork and a focus on meaningful results. This forms the basis of our model for effective teams, we call it the STAR team performance model (Strengths, Teamwork,Alignment, Results). You can find out more about our STAR team performance model in our article teamwork theories, where we explain the model and why we think it can help create the conditions for effective teams and a happier workplace.

If you do have the time to read more on this topic, why not go to our teamwork articles. A good place to start might be either with thinking about how you define teamwork or reminding yourself of the benefits of teamwork.

This is one of the articles in our teamwork series. But for some practical tips on teamwork in the workplace, look at our great-value guides (below), or at our Team Building Exercises for all team stages teams…

Team Building Exercises and Team Stages

The exercises in this guide are grouped according to our team stages model. Remember, each team is unique and needs to be led through several developmental stages. These include:

Creating a new team or taking over an existing team

Exercises for all team stages!

  • Exercise 1: Being a TEAM together
  • Exercise 2: True or false
  • Exercise 3: Who does what in a team?
  • Exercise 4: Getting the mix right
  • Exercise 5: Doing something for the first time
  • Exercise 6: Two years from now

Developing a team

  • Exercise 7: A clearer vision
  • Exercise 8: Mad, sad or glad
  • Exercise 9: Seeing the bigger picture
  • Exercise 10: Positive feedback
  • Exercise 11: Conflicting views

Performing and achieving results with a team

  • Exercise 12: Did you notice?
  • Exercise 13: Limiting beliefs

Sustaining team performance

  • Exercise 14: Scarce resources
  • Exercise 15: Keeping going

Where to go from here:


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