Tips for EAP Practitioners: Promoting teamwork | EAPA-SA

When we consider what is now expected of managers and look at the wide variety of challenges they face, it is not surprising that management support and training is becoming an essential investment in any workplace.

With the fast changing dynamics of today’s workplace, the role of the manager is continually evolving. Traditionally, managers were required to plan, organise and coordinate their team to achieve specific goals, but in the fast changing work environment of today they are required also to be inspirational leaders, and to leverage the best performance from their team. Good communication and motivation skills, as well as the ability to bring out the best in people and ensure staff engagement are just some of the skills necessary to make headway as a manager today. In order for managers to be able to meet the demands of their role, additional training and support is needed.

There are a number of tailored EAP programs available that can educate a manager on how to support and maximise individual employee and team wellbeing.

Here are 10 ways managers can improve teamwork in the workplace:

  1. Practice collaborative leadership: Every successful team needs a collaborative leader who is willing to guide the team in working and making collaborative decisions, rather than unilateral decisions. To reach the team’s goals, the team leader must have strong communication skills and be committed to imparting the necessary vision so that each  team member shares their passion and vision for success.
  1. Make every team member feel valued: Success as a team can only happen when each team member is aware of the importance of their role reaching the desired outcome. Involve all team members, sharing any available information relevant to the project goal and any deadlines. Assign each member with responsibility for specific goals and outcomes, and reward all members of the team for individual achievements.
  1. Set increasingly challenging team-based goals: Each time the team reaches a goal, set a more challenging goal. This will encourage team members to stretch themselves and build on their previous successes. Recognise the team for meeting the challenge and openly discuss how their team effort led their achieving the goal.
  1. Incorporate peer mentoring into team meetings: At each team meeting ask every team member to share a project or task in which they might feel stuck or challenged. Encourage team brainstorming of solutions and request that the team members provide some mentoring by giving feedback and sharing their ideas to help resolve the dilemma.
  1. Facilitate conversation, idea-sharing and team brainstorming: Where possible, set up a work space where team members can easily get together to share ideas, brainstorm or discuss work progress. Open office environments don’t always work, so this might mean allocating a particular room, or even an outdoor space where team members can work together.
  1. Encourage teamwork on projects: Develop a work protocol that requires team members to collaborate on projects. For example, before any important document or project is finalised, ensure that more than one team member has been responsible for creating, reviewing and giving their feedback on it.
  1. Discuss team dynamics on a regular basis: Encourage open communication in team meetings, specifically talking about what is working well and what could work better. Use this as an opportunity for team members to discuss how they can work more effectively as a team, but never to moan or criticise one another.
  1. Welcome comments, questions and suggestions from all team members: Be open to, and encourage input from, every team member. Great ideas and improvements often arise as a result of asking what might seem to be a simplistic question or by looking at a situation from a completely different perspective. Be supportive of new ideas and work through all ideas as a team, weeding out any that will not work.
  1. Provide ongoing coaching, training and mentoring to team members: Giving team members ongoing learning opportunities will build individual skills and team skills, and will encourage each member to grow. Assign mentors to team members and encourage leaders and managers to develop their coaching skills to use within their teams. Or, hire the services of an external professional coach to work with the team leaders, managers, or individual team members, to further develop specific competencies.
  1. Recognise and reward good teamwork: Look for ways to acknowledge and consistently reward good teamwork. The most successful managers are those who recognise their team’s efforts. When organisations recognise teamwork with tangible rewards it further builds teamwork, promotes positive behaviour and improves employee retention.

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