While reflecting on my past nursing experience, I realize why I preferred working in a hospital setting rather than a solo nursing career (i.e. home health care or private duty nurse).  The reason; working in the hospital setting gave me the satisfaction of being part of a team.

Teamwork helps to create a more satisfying and productive work environment, benefiting both employees and management.  That said, one might ask, “how do I get my employees to work better as a team?” Here are a few suggestions to improve teamwork within an organization:

  • Outline Specific Goals – a team will be more effective if they are clear on specific objectives.  Goals give the team a mission. Goals also serve as motivators and enable the team to measure its progress.
  • Do Not Micromanage – Stay away from being a micromanager.  From an employee-relations standpoint, this can lead to a decrease in employee morale, productivity and performance. In addition, it can accelerate employee turnover.
  • Ensure Clear Communication – To make sure you are delivering your message in a clear manner; it is helpful to conduct meetings in a comfortable setting. For example, noisy rooms, distractions, and uncomfortable settings can all lead to your message getting lost.
  • Plan Informal Social Events – For a nice change of pace, plan a fun social event for your team.  This can break up the monotony of spending all your time in the office, the lab, or wherever your work takes place.  A simple change of scenery and fresh air can lead to stimulating new ideas and improve communication. Having the team members away from their work setting also allows everyone to see each other in a “new light”,  as people — not just coworkers.
  • Recognize and Reward Excellent Teamwork – Taking time to recognize a job well done is critical.  Employee surveys consistently show what matters most to workers is to feel appreciated.  When employees know they are valued, they will in turn be more productive with their work. This is the heart of employee relationship management.
  • Celebrate Individual and Group Success – Everyone appreciates when their work is acknowledged.  It’s important to take time to say, “thank you”. It’s equally important to celebrate together when goals have been met.  Arriving at work knowing you are going to join your fellow teammates can make the workplace more fun, creative, and therefore more productive. It is also important to note there is a place for celebrating individual contributions.  Sometimes people need to feel special, important, like they are the only one in the room. If praise and appreciation is always given in a group fashion, one may feel they are lost in the crowd.

In order to make it easier for employees to work as a team, try dividing up the various work  assignments. Teamwork doesn’t mean everyone has to work together all the time. Consider separating the employees into smaller teams and assign specific tasks and change the people on the teams from time to time so they can have a diversity of experiences.  This helps to generate new ideas and capitalizes on collective knowledge.

We all have had experience working as a team at some point in our lives.  It might have been in high school as part of a sports team, rafting trip, community organization, or neighborhood project. No matter the context, it’s easy to understand the benefits and challenges of having people work together to achieve a common goal.  Whatever your past teamwork experiences may be, draw from it and apply your lessons learned to your current situation.

Workplace Teamwork’s Importance, Continued

Here are a few other reasons why teamwork is so important in the workplace.  When you are a contributing member of a team, it can generate feelings of pride, self-worth, and a sense of accomplishment.  Your teammates learn from you and you learn from them. When employees experience these feelings in their work environment, the company can’t help but benefit.  Effective teamwork will increase productivity, create rewarding experiences, increase employee satisfaction, and help the company achieve its stated goals and objectives in a timely manner.  

This article was provided by Nancy J Smith, employee relations specialist at the Hutchison group. Prior to joining the Hutchison group Nancy spent 25 years in various nursing and educator positions at several of the country’s best healthcare facilities. Reach out to us at Hutchison Group for employee relations consultant services.