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How to Improve Teamwork in the Workplace

Teamwork makes the dream work. It's a decent saying, but the advice is incomplete. When it comes to improving teamwork, defining what improvement looks like is the first step. Improving teamwork is less about doing that literally than it is about establishing the outcome you're trying to improve. One cannot simply "improve teamwork" for the sake of improvement alone. Instead, you and your team are attempting to accomplish something that has yet to be done -- and defining that clearly and often is paramount.

Teamwork cannot exist apart from the "something" that your team is working to accomplish. Are you trying to achieve your sales goals, drive greater employee performance or create technology to better serve your customer base? Once you've established the "what," you can focus on working best as a team to achieve those goals (or on driving spirited competition within your team to achieve the goal *nudges the sales department*). This comes from setting your goal(s), understanding how your team collaborates most efficiently and placing individuals in the roles that best fit them, for the success of that individual and of the team. So quit relying on cheesy sayings to inspire your teams and instead understand the benefits of teamwork, how to build a high-performing team, and learn how to improve teamwork, for real. Consider these items that great teams have in common:

  • Team members can name and understand the individual talents of everyone on the team.

  • Team members can see a clear connection between each other's strengths and behavior. They can see the link between strengths and success.

  • Everyone on the team has partnerships that encourage their strengths development.

  • Team members use their knowledge of each other's strengths to plan, strategize, analyze and direct their actions.

Do you want to be a great team, or take your already-great team to the next level? Break down your possible "next steps" into the "best next step." Focus on one piece at a time. There is a zero percent chance that every team will go about improving teamwork in the same way, so recall that first, you should establish goals and then consider how teamwork helps achieve those business goals. Decide what it is you're trying to achieve. Learn your strengths. Get to work. Action Items

  • Check the pulse of your team by asking them about their perceptions of teamwork in your workplace.

  • Decide whether teamwork is seen as important or unimportant to your organization and specify a simple goal that your team can achieve as a first step.

  • Write down team goals you want to achieve or business outcomes you want to improve to narrow your focus. Then, set specific dates you want to achieve these goals.

Initial Steps to Improve Teamwork Setting goals is an integral part of improving teamwork. How can people do the things they do best when

a) they don't know what they're supposed to be doing and

b) they aren't given time to consider what brings them energy?

Begin by describing what each employee is supposed to accomplish, not how they are supposed to accomplish it. Explain expectations in terms of the outcomes the employee needs to achieve to reach team goals. How each employee goes about meeting these expectations will vary -- but if you've hired adults and you trust the adults you've hired, you need to give them the freedom to work the way they know best. Source:


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