I have worked in several offices and have seen how well a team can work. Like many of you, I’m sure, I have also worked in many offices where teamwork is completely absent! Most of the time, the issue seemed to be a lack of leadership in creating and developing a team. It’s a skill getting the best from your team and it’s important to get it right.
However, even if you do not manage a team, we can all play a part in improving the teamwork in the office.
The benefits of good teamwork
Having worked in an office environment where there has been good teamwork and in an environment where the opposite is true, I can say that the benefits of teamwork are many. Here are just a few:
Improved learning and development
Better contingency for dealing with the unexpected
Happier clients as work being completed effortlessly and in a timely manner.
Better staff retention as staff feel valued
A new way of working
Working practices have changed since the Pandemic. When I worked in practice, the motto was “work has to be done in the office”. I remember finding this frustrating when I worked in London. I thought, “I’ve got everything I need to work at home and I’m more efficient there so why do I need to travel in?” Now flexible working arrangements are much more common and we have the technology to facilitate homeworking.
During the Pandemic, people began to understand themselves better and recognised whether they preferred working at home or not.
However, flexible working can have its disadvantages. Some members of staff may feel isolated. Nowadays, because some of the team may not be in the office, it’s even more important to improve teamworking; otherwise, staff can start to feel unaligned with the company or even the rest of the team. This can lead to discontent and you may lose good staff.
Every effort needs to be made to keep in touch with homeworkers and check if they have any concerns. Maybe regular events can be arranged so that the whole team can meet up socially. However, it is important to ask the team members what works for them. By engaging them in how you meet up and how often, they will be more committed to the process.
Again, when I worked in practice (especially when I was training), a large proportion of the time was spent out of the office as a small team. This was useful for getting to know members of staff better and learning how to work together more effectively.
It was important to understand your common goal so that you could work together to reach it. Communication was crucial as sometimes the client had specific rules they wanted you to adhere to. I remember one client had a purchases book they didn’t like taken out of their office so woe betide you if you kept it longer than you needed to!
Being out of the office together did a lot for strengthening a team and building that feeling of working together. I understand that nowadays the majority of audits are carried out remotely and onsite visits are rare. This is unfortunate as an opportunity to work as a team is lost, and also for the clients to see how we work.
So let’s think about what you can do to get the best out of your team.
6 ways to Improve teamwork
-Over and above everything else, communicate well and often. Work with team members to discover ways of communication that work best for them. It may be regular online meetings, face-to-face meetings or a weekly email – or maybe all of the above!
It’s much easier to get something done alone if you understand why you’re doing it. Teamwork relies on its members knowing what their roles and responsibilities are within the team. These need to be communicated but also each member needs to understand what is needed from them in each task – and who can help them if needed!
You know how to do the work so help others to learn. Not easy initially as they will take longer, but worth it in the long run. Also, it will make staff feel more motivated and will help with contingency planning if someone has to be off work unexpectedly. When you delegate work, make sure you’re there for them. I remember when I worked in practice in the third year of my degree, I found a lot of the work and processes baffling! I was glad of having patient team members around me to support and explain.
Teams are always evolving and it is important to know what is happening on the ground. Take time to listen and hear what is being said by team members and involve them in any improvements which are required.
In a genuine way; I say this because in places I’ve worked I’ve felt like a nuisance asking questions. If need be, set certain times of the day or week when you are available and keep that promise.
Staff knowing that they are an important member of the team will work better. Encourage working relationships within the team and give opportunities for members of the team to understand each other better. maybe you could do a team personality profile to understand better how each of you tick, such as 16 Personalities or 123 Test.
There are many aspects to teamwork and I can’t empathise enough how important it is to get it right. It certainly makes the atmosphere in the office better and more productive. And who doesn’t want a happy work life?
Contact me if you’d like to work with me in discovering how to get the best from your team.