In today’s digital-first work environments, there’s no quality that means as much as teamwork.
Your office or team could be spread across multiple cities or buildings, operating in a hybrid work model, or just dealing with the many pivots and hurdles it takes to complete a project. The only way to have success is through collaboration, trust, and open communication.
And that’s what good teamwork is all about.
But effective teamwork doesn’t just happen by accident. Leaders intentionally foster high-functioning teams who can support each other through thick and thin. They communicate regularly, understand the team’s goals, and know how to best contribute as a team player. So, how can you improve teamwork among your colleagues and team members? These tips will help get you there.
1. Create team-building opportunities
For teamwork to improve, coworkers need space to get to know and understand each other better. Team-building opportunities like informal gatherings, games, and icebreakers are the perfect way to build closer relationships and gain trust between team members. When people participate in fun or engaging exercises together, it helps them feel like part of a team.
Team-building activities can help team members feel more confident around each other, build trust, deepen relationships, and inspire collaboration in unique or unexpected scenarios. Even though that all happens outside work-related tasks, it helps the relationship stick when it comes time to work together.
Some examples of team-building opportunities you can try together:
If your organization follows a hybrid or remote model, tailor your team-building exercises to remote workers so that everyone on the team can participate and get to know each other. For instance, you can sign up for a virtual escape room so that everyone can be included. These activities can help with feelings of isolation and make the whole team more productive.
Sometimes, team building can feel awkward or forced. Try to choose activities that feel natural and fun for your team members so that they’re readily engaged.
Pro-tip: One way to help with this is to ask what they want to do instead of choosing or scheduling activities for them. Send out a survey or ask them to vote on an activity in your next team meeting.
2. Organize effective meetings
Meetings are usually the one time when your team members are together in a formal setting to discuss projects or work-related tasks. Efficiency and organization are keys to sparking better teamwork and collaboration both during and after your meetings.
Effective meetings help your team stay on task and productive, both individually and as a group. They provide an opportunity to align on goals, sync up on where team members need support, and divide responsibilities before moving forward.
Three ways you can make your meetings more effective and productive right off the bat are:
- Start with your meeting agenda: The agenda sets the flow and structure of the meeting and outlines what'll be covered for the group. To spark collaboration, get input from everyone on what should be covered in the agenda.
- Be clear about the meeting’s purpose: In doing so, you empower everyone to contribute to the meeting. Communicating your purpose helps everyone feel connected to goals instead of just a few people dominating the meeting (and, by default, the project and the team’s work).
- Use tools and resources to make team collaboration a breeze: Collaboration platforms like Mural can help capture the best ideas from the your team and work efficiently from anywhere. With voting capabilities, private mode, and more, Mural enables you to easily get input from your team and come to a fair decision before moving forward.
3. Rally around clear goals and objectives
One set purpose helps your team stay focused and united, no matter what obstacles they might face. Narrow down and agree on a clear goal for your team, whether it’s a yearly objective or a project outcome, so you’re all aligned on what you want to achieve.
If your team is feeling fragmented or pulled in different directions, one common goal can help get everyone on the same page and rowing the same way again. Everyone knows what to aim for and what success means.
You can set team goals at any level, depending on what you’re working towards and what your team needs to focus on:
- Performance expectations
- Project-specific goals
- Departmental goals
- Larger business or organizational goals
No matter how deep you drill down, there’s a clear objective you set out to achieve so that you can be successful.
Good goal-setting should follow SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For instance, let’s say you’re setting a project-based goal for your team. Your goal is to launch a new product to a target market within six months.
The goal is specific. You can measure the impact on your target market. It’s attainable and relevant for your industry. And you have a set timeline — so that goal meets all the SMART criteria! Nice work.
4. Build strong internal communication
Great communication is the foundation for great teamwork. Your team members need to regularly talk to each other and understand who to seek out for specific questions or updates. That all comes from strong internal communication policies.
Internal communication, when it’s functioning well, is all about getting coworkers to solve problems together, seek out resources, and keep up-to-date with information — all parts of teamwork and collaboration.
Those are important qualities in a team, no matter if your team is in person or remote, so be mindful of this, no matter your setup. For remote teams, keep digital channels open and establish clear policies for communication. Set up best practices and policies for flexible hours, work times, and more. Meetings may not always be the best option, so build in opportunities for creativity and problem-solving through async communication.
Choose tools that can help facilitate internal comms, keep records of brainstorms and ideas, and capture key info in one place for easy reference. Mural’s team charter template is a great resource for deciding how your team will work together and communicate with each other.
5. Provide pathways for knowledge sharing
Even teams with the smartest, most talented people can break down when information remains siloed and people scramble to find important answers. Knowledge sharing helps ensure that everyone on the team knows where to find resources and answers when they need them.
Successful teams consist of people in all different roles who all have different specialties and understandings of what’s happening throughout projects or the day-to-day flow of work. And you need a way to capture their knowledge and centralize it in one place.
Knowledge sharing helps everyone on the team learn from others, which can often inspire better teamwork and fulfillment on the job. It also keeps everyone up to date in their roles. (It’s rarely a good idea to have just one teammate who knows how to use vital software in your organization, for instance.)
Schedule training and mentoring opportunities so that coworkers can pass along what they’ve learned, and create sources of truth for team members to reference regularly when it’s time to learn new processes. Mural’s templates can be used to store key info for reference (like for a product comparison after a working session). And Mural’s sticky notes can quickly capture ideas from meetings, so they’re not lost in the shuffle.
Share (and use) resources to make collaboration easy for your team
No matter what steps you take to improve team collaboration, don’t just rely on effective communication and conversation to get the job done. Visual aids, templates, toolkits, and other resources are an integral part of helping your team stay connected with each other, learn from each other, and trust in each other’s work. Luckily, Mural has plenty of resources to help you get started.
Check out Mural’s template library to get frameworks for communicating ideas, fostering collaboration, and facilitating smooth teamwork within your organization.