It’s one thing to create a team, but quite another to create teamwork...

Teamwork is what happens when a group of people come together and collectively achieve something. Teamwork offers organisations and employees the ability to know more about each other in work and learn how to work together well.

There are numerous ways in which employee teamwork drives the success in organisations and the development of individual employees. A HR representative needs to be able to understand the important elements of teamwork as this will assist you in supporting managers and teams around your business.

What is effective teamwork?

There are four elements to effective teamwork:

  • Commitment: including shared objectives
  • Communication: including keeping others informed of what they are doing and sharing other information
  • Contribution: including everyone pulling their weight and playing to their strengths
  • Collaboration: including sharing expertise and working flexibly to achieve joint goals

Source: CIPD (2015)

Why is teamwork important to companies?

We have all heard the saying two heads are better than one. Many businesses have developed a product, or delivered a service, and the success of that will have been down to great teamwork.

Remember that individuals in teams are not expected to share the same strengths. Teamwork is about promoting a diverse mix of different people with varying skills that, when brought together, create a sum that is greater than the parts.

Teamwork supports social networks in the workplace which in turn makes people happier, increasing performance. It is not always easy working with other people, however, there is nothing more satisfying and enjoyable than working with a group of people on a worthwhile activity with a common goal in mind.

How can HR support strong teams?

Team dynamics don’t just happen they take time. The Tuckman model outlines the stages of team development:

  • Forming — where you bring a team of people together
  • Storming — where they test each other’s boundaries; some arguments may happen at this stage
  • Norming — things start to settle down, everyone knows their roles, people get along
  • Performing — the results of the team work start to pay off

The role of HR in promoting teamwork

HR plays a pivotal role in supporting team success, for several reasons:

Management capability - The first area to look at is the role of the line manager. Many organisations promote managers because of technical skill, but they are perhaps not as skilled when it comes to people management. In order to develop the business, and the leaders within it you must consider the correct training and development opportunities.

Recruitment - Have a strong recruitment and selection policy so that the right people are brought into the business. HR representatives will need to work alongside recruiting managers to offer support and advice in this area. Ultimately, businesses are looking for individuals that will bring the right skills to a team, whilst holding similar or the same values as the organisation.

Team Building - HR will be called upon to facilitate team discussion within underperforming teams. This often looks at any issues within the team and identifies solutions to move the discussion forward. It could also form part of a wider team building activity day.

Temperature check - It is always good practice for HR facilitators to do a regular temperature check to determine how people are feeling and give people an opportunity to make any suggestions or ideas for improvements that would benefit the team as a whole. Use the data you get back to support those teams that need it, but also focus on what the highly engaged teams are doing well.

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