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8 Reasons Why Teamwork Is Important at Work

8 Reasons Why Teamwork Is Important at Work
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We all work on teams in some part of our life, and the importance of teamwork is evident in each one of them. If we don’t get our work finished on time, we realize at some level that we’re pushing responsibilities onto other members of the team.

However, the importance of teamwork goes beyond fulfilling our duties to others. The old African proverb on teamwork says it best:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Teamwork helps us grow as people and accomplish more than we ever could on our own.

Without teamwork, we wouldn’t be able to build companies at all. So what, exactly, makes teamwork so important in the workplace?

Teamwork helps us in many ways. Without teamwork, many of our jobs would likely never get done. Below are just a few more reasons outlining the importance of teamwork.

1. Have Empathy and Support for Other Team Members

The emotional side of leadership is finally getting the attention it deserves. Executives have found that while people might respect their “no-nonsense” boss, they might not be as inspired by them.

Empathy can make team members more loyal, engaged, happy, creative, and willing to work together. A team working together closely can see what each member contributes.

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Think about what that means: through empathy, employees on a team can hold each other accountable, lend helping hands, and speak up when someone needs a break. They are dependent on each other for success and have real, in-person interactions, so they are much more likely to put themselves in each others’ shoes.

My team uses a project management platform called Teamwork to support each other, and we’ve seen improvement in how we look out for each other. If everybody’s on the same page about where a project stands, it makes it easier to understand where somebody’s mindset is when they are doing certain tasks.

2. Share Responsibilities

Like a football team, each member of a work team has his or her own specialty. Even if the right tackle dominates every play, it doesn’t mean that the team is going to win. It takes every player, doing his or her part and working together to win.

Companies can’t hope to compete if only half the team is pushing for the finish line. If one player is having a bad day, the rest of the team has to pitch in — which keeps those team members from owning their own roles.

This is how teams work: they make decisions that benefit the group, even if it means certain members need to make sacrifices. Group identity is what might inspire someone to go to war for their country or put in overtime hours on a group project.

When you identify as being part of a team, it triggers a shift in you goals. No longer are you thinking “What’s in it for me?” You’re thinking “What does this mean for us?” This motivates you to then pursue the goals of the group, making the company stronger.

3. Build Bonds

We’ve probably all done the “trust fall” exercise. While this might be the most common team-building exercise, it’s not the only way to help a team come together. Workplace teams spend long hours together and need to trust each member to protect everyone’s livelihood.

A few ways to encourage them to build strong bonds and work better together are:

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Games and Competitions

Companies can encourage their teams to build strong bonds through things like games and competitions. Games like waste basketball, ping pong, and two-minute trivia can help break up the work day and encourage the team to get to know each other on a personal level in a fun, friendly setting.

Eating Together

What brings people together like food? Almost nothing. Encourage employees to eat together. Maybe that means taking a slightly longer lunch break or going out on Fridays. Enjoying happy hour or appetizers after work are also smart strategies.

Encouraging Personal Conversations During Downtime

You don’t want your workers goofing around all of the time, of course, but the occasional watercooler conversation can actually promote productivity and teamwork.

Exchanging pictures of kids and pets during downtime, or sharing hobbies and passions helps team members to relate on a personal level. That, in turn, strengthens the bonds that make them an effective team.

4. Improve Service Quality

Especially in industries that aren’t known for their customer service, teamwork can make a company shine.

The book “You Don’t Have to be Ruthless to Win” by Jonathan Keyser, in particular, inspired me to be more selfless. Keyser leads a fast-growing commercial real estate company that operates with the principle to selflessly serve others[1] on the team and around them. Because buy-in must be broad for a team to function, Keyser considers clients part of that culture as well.

Learning to serve others as a team can be challenging and complicated, but it can also be deeply rewarding. Selfless service requires people to collaborate and go the extra mile. A team’s relationships must be built on trust and mutual respect for its members to act selflessly.

5. Promote a Positive Office Culture

Not all employees prefer to work on a team as opposed to as individual contributors, but nobody wants to work on a team that doesn’t get along. Arguments and tensions make work less fun for everyone involved.

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Good team players make good co-workers, which ultimately create a good culture. We spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our own families, so it’s important to enjoy being with those that we’re around.

To make your work culture more enjoyable and productive, it’s important to encourage employees to be good team players. Team players come together to get the job done, even if it means putting in a little more time than someone else.

6. Foster Psychological Safety

A few years ago, Google researchers dug into a question companies have been trying to answer for ages: What defines the perfect team?

Google discovered[2] that it wasn’t about years of experience, personality alignment, or perks. It was the fact that ideal teams have psychological safety. In essence, good teams have the ability to fail, share opinions, and debate ideas without worrying about being judged or ostracized.

Psychological safety and teamwork are mutually reinforcing. Teams that work well together learn to feel safe with one another. That security can help develop more creative, effective ideas for the company as a whole.

In a Harvard Business Review interview[3], Amy Edmondson — the researcher who first coined the term — explained that psychological safety is built structurally and behaviorally. The former is about constructing small teams whose members identify with each other; the latter is a matter of people asking for feedback and being vulnerable.

7. Create Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is rare at companies that do not appreciate the importance of teamwork. When team members know that their peers have their backs, they feel free to close their laptops at the end of a long day or go on vacation and utilize their PTO.

Because they feel taken care of, they’re also willing to go the extra mile when work needs to get done. If a co-worker needs time off for a vacation or other personal time, everyone else on the team can come together to pick up the slack.

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We all deserve time away from work. Having co-workers to help you out, tell you to take time off, and hold you accountable for resting and relaxing helps to make that happen.

8. Encourage Innovation

Innovative companies know the importance of teamwork. Rarely, if ever, are innovations the result of a genius locked away in a laboratory by him or herself.

Keith Ayers, head of the Integro Leadership Institute, breaks innovation into four roles[4]: creating, advancing, refining, and executing.

Creators are idea people. They see possibilities, even if those ideas may not work in practice. Advancers promote those ideas, ensuring they do not die on the vine. Refiners do the work of getting to the idea’s meat: They ask “what if” questions to find its best possible iteration. Executors, of course, turn the idea from a blueprint concept into an actual product. It would take a very precise person a lot of time to do all of that on their own.

Final Thoughts

Teamwork isn’t just a buzzword your boss likes to throw around. The importance of teamwork can be seen in every Fortune 500 company, but also in other aspects of life, such as successful relationships with friends and family. Without teamwork, we would likely not have safe roads to drive on, fresh food to eat, complex medical procedures, and so much more.

Teamwork is what separates companies that sputter out from those that succeed. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, use teamwork to help you go the distance.

More Tips on Teamwork

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Keyser: Our Culture
[2] The New York Times: What Google Learned From its Quest to Build the Perfect Team
[3] Harvard Business Review: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace
[4] Entrepreneur: Innovation Takes Teamwork

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Kimberly Zhang

Kimberly Zhang is the Chief Editor of Under30CEO and has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders to be successful.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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