Fostering teamwork and collaboration in the workplace
The power of teamwork and collaboration in the workplace is in the potential to harness the collective intelligence, creativity, and skills of a group. Collaboration enhances productivity and problem-solving and promotes a healthy work environment.
In the words of Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
In this guide, we will explore strategies, benefits, and practical tips on how you can foster teamwork and collaboration in the workplace.
We’ll answer the following questions:
- How you can foster teamwork and collaboration,
- What the most important skills for teamwork and collaboration are, and
- What the benefits of teamwork and collaboration are.
Table of Contents
How to foster teamwork and collaboration?
Creating a collaborative work environment is a deliberate and immersive process. But, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s dive in and discover how to achieve better teamwork and collaboration in your workplace.
Tip #1: Communicate common goals
Team members cannot collaborate if they don’t know what their common goals are.
Make sure you clearly outline goals that are common for every team member and do it frequently.
You can organize monthly, weekly, or even daily meetings with your team to communicate goals for that period. You should set concrete objectives for ongoing projects, such as a due date or a standard of quality that needs to be met.
Common goals should also be set on an organizational level. This should also be frequently discussed with all teams to unify the whole organization under the same overarching goals.
Setting objectives helps employees understand what they’re working towards — what the end goal is. This boosts motivation and creates a sense of unison between team members.
Tip #2: Set expectations for collaboration
If you want to foster collaboration and teamwork, your team members need to be aware that collaboration is what’s expected. In other words, setting clear expectations of collaboration is necessary to encourage teamwork.
When you establish expectations, team members have an understanding that they need to:
- Work together,
- Share responsibilities, and
- Contribute to the success of the team.
Furthermore, each team member should know exactly how and what they are expected to contribute to the team. Delegate tasks and responsibilities according to individual strengths and skills.
By setting clear expectations and goals, you:
- Clarify roles and responsibilities,
- Prevent misunderstandings and ambiguities, and
- Ensure fast workflow.
Tip #3: Appreciate individual strengths
The best teamwork happens when every team member has an opportunity to shine.
In order to make that happen, make sure to appreciate the individual strengths of each team member. As each person brings a unique set of experiences, skills, and perspectives to the table, assign tasks based on these individual characteristics and watch the team thrive.
When team members feel valued and appreciated, they will feel more motivated to excel.
Always praise individual contributions, and team members will be encouraged to continue collaborating.
Tip #4: Foster open communication
Collaboration cannot happen without communication. The focus should always be on open and transparent communication between team members.
“Remember that transparency is the key to healthy collaboration, so ensure that nobody feels left out or in the dark.”
Open communication will create an environment where everyone is comfortable sharing ideas, concerns, and feedback. Therefore, people will be more likely to share information, exchange opinions, and come up with new ideas, which is the end goal of collaboration.
Moreover, open communication should be nurtured on the organizational level and included in the core values of the organization. This way, employees will be aware that open and honest communication is expected at all times.
Also, strive toward direct communication, as it simplifies conversations and leaves no room for error in communication.
Always encourage open dialogue in the team to promote a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions and boost collaboration.
Tip #5: Celebrate successful teamwork
If you want to foster collaboration, make sure to celebrate and reward good examples of teamwork. Highlighting successful teamwork will boost employee morale and reinforce the value of working together.
It will also bring the team closer together, as they will share a sense of accomplishment and pride when they are praised for their good teamwork. It will motivate them to continue collaborating.
However, don’t forget to celebrate the individual achievements of team members, as we’ve already mentioned.
Our contributor, Iva Marinkovic, agrees that recognition is a powerful motivator:
“One of the best options for encouraging teamwork is to recognize individual collaborative efforts. Recognizing these team members and giving them space to advocate for this culture is a great way to motivate the team for further collaboration.”
Celebrating successful teamwork will encourage employees to keep working together as their accomplishments are being recognized.
Tip #6: Utilize collaboration tools
The use of collaboration tools, such as communication apps, is another excellent way to promote teamwork. These tools provide a digital platform for communication and collaboration, regardless of geographical location or time zones. This makes communication tools especially important for hybrid or remote teams.
Using a communication app lets teams connect, share information, and collaborate in real-time, even if they are not physically together.
Communication apps also serve as a space to store and access documents, files, and other important information. This ensures that teams are always on the same page.
Another type of collaboration tool that promotes teamwork is task management apps.
Task management apps offer features such as:
- Project tracking,
- Task management, and
- File sharing.
Using collaboration tools will help teams overcome communication barriers and keep track of each other’s progress. This will ultimately lead to better collaboration and teamwork.
Tip #7: Build relationships
Teamwork will naturally occur in teams that are connected on more than a professional level.
According to data collected by Gallup, employees who have a “best friend” at work are more likely to be engaged at their job and perform better than those who don’t.
Building personal relationships between team members is sure to bring more collaboration and teamwork to the workplace. Strong personal connections create trust and mutual respect, both of which are necessary for teamwork.
Furthermore, individuals who know each other on a personal level are more likely to:
- Communicate openly,
- Help each other, and
- Respect each other’s perspectives.
When people are personally connected, they are more inclined to empathize with each other. This promotes a positive environment, where people are more comfortable voicing their opinions and sharing ideas.
Iva highlights the importance of onboarding new employees and supporting them while they get to know the team:
“For new hires, it’s important to have a dedicated onboarding session, introducing them to company culture and values, workflows, and organization-wide rituals. After that, their Lead can take over and support them in getting to know the team. The ‘buddy system’ is also a great way to introduce new members to the team and provide them with a support system.”
On an organizational level, employees who are personally invested in their teams will be more satisfied and engaged on the job. The same Gallup report indicates that people who develop personal relationships with team members are more satisfied with their job and are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work.
Overall, building personal relationships between team members lays a foundation for strong and successful teamwork.
Tip #8: Promote company culture and values
Your company culture and values can go a long way to encourage teamwork between employees.
A strong and positive company culture provides a set of shared beliefs, values, and goals that connect all employees. When your company’s culture encourages teamwork and collaboration, it becomes an inherent part of the workplace.
Additionally, when employees feel a sense of belonging and identify with the same values as their team members, they are more open to communication and bonding with each other. This in turn fosters teamwork and collaboration.
Furthermore, a positive work environment that values individual ideas can attract and retain talented team members.
You will encourage collaboration in the workplace if you value:
- Open communication,
- Respect for different ideas, and
- Mutual support.
Company culture and the values it holds should be clearly communicated when hiring new people to make sure they align.
Iva Marinkovic agrees that it’s important to hire people with the same values:
“A collaborative work environment, in the best case, should come organically from the overall culture you’ve built. This means you will think strongly about every hire and evaluate whether they are a good culture fit for your team. If one of your company values is collaboration, you will look for that in every candidate you interview and hire the one that works best for the team.”
By creating and maintaining positive and collaborative company culture, teamwork will be viewed as an expected part of the work environment.
Tip #9: Encourage creativity
Encouraging creativity is essential when you want to foster teamwork.
In a diverse workplace, sharing different ideas and respecting differences should be encouraged. To come up with fresh and creative ideas, we need to embrace our differences.
By creating an environment that encourages creativity, team members can freely express themselves, explore new ideas, and take risks. Creativity fosters collaboration, as team members can share and build upon each other’s ideas.
Furthermore, when leaders create an environment that encourages creativity, even those who are less naturally creative are more likely to become creative, according to research. Leadership should be organized in a way that nurtures employee creativity.
- Problem-solving, and
- Out-of-the-box thinking.
By embracing creativity, you get to explore the full potential of teams and drive collaboration between members.
Tip #10: Be a collaborative leader
A leader who is good at collaboration will inspire others to do the same.
Be a leader who respects differences of opinion and actively encourages sharing ideas. Make sure you don’t turn into a leader who only commands and controls — collaborate instead.
Iva agrees that collaboration starts with the leader:
“You need to create a safe and supportive environment where people trust each other and can rely on one another. Here, your most vital asset will be the team leader, who should lead by example and not micromanage but collaborate with the team.”
In many cases, leaders are viewed as fear-inducing figures. Do your best to create a positive atmosphere by being a part of the team, and not just a superintendent.
Here’s an example of how a team leader demonstrates collaborative leadership by asking team members for their opinion on how frequently they should hold check-in meetings:
By being a collaborative leader for your team, you will inspire them to work better together.
Tip #11: Invest in team-building activities
Team-building activities are a great way to indirectly foster teamwork and collaboration in the workplace.
More specifically, team-building activities create an opportunity for teams to connect, build trust and develop effective communication and collaboration skills. By engaging in team-building activities, team members have a chance to:
- Break down barriers,
- Improve communication,
- Learn more about each other, and
- Appreciate each other’s skills and strengths.
If you organize fun and insightful team-building activities, you will encourage:
- Active participation,
- Problem-solving and decision-making as a team, and
- Team spirit and a sense of community.
On the organizational level, team-building activities will enhance employee morale, job satisfaction and motivation. This will lead to increased productivity as well as employee retention.
Ultimately, team-building activities are a great way to create a cohesive and collaborative team that can overcome challenges together and achieve greater success.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
If you’re running low on ideas for virtual team-building activities, take a look at our compilation of activities:
Tip #12: Monitor goals and progress
Monitoring progress is a necessary part of teamwork and collaboration.
Regularly tracking progress will make sure that everyone is on track to reaching their goals. It also gives you an opportunity to identify any roadblocks early on and resolve them.
Regular check-ins will also promote accountability and shared responsibility. Team members can stay focused on their work knowing that everyone is on track.
Additionally, keeping track of progress will help you understand if any additional resources or guidance may be needed.
Iva gives us a few examples of how you can check in with your team:
“To monitor your team’s success, you can have weekly team meetings, project check-ins, and one-on-ones where you’ll talk about progress, offer help and remove any blockers people might have.”
As a collaborative leader, make sure you track the progress of your teams to ensure the best results and foster teamwork.
Tip #13: Talk about hardships
Life’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, we face hardships.
Addressing issues team members face is crucial to a successful team. Openly discussing and acknowledging problems opens a path to their resolution.
The age-old advice of talking it out when you feel down is now supported by research. Namely, putting negative feelings into words diminishes the response of your amygdala to the negative triggers. Talking it out basically alters your brain to be less reactive to negative stimuli.
Therefore, talking about hardships team members encounter helps prevent stress, frustration or even resentment that can build up. By opening up, team members can relieve stress and provide support for each other.
For example, this team had a big project that ultimately failed and morale is down in the team. Here’s how the team leader handled the situation:
You should discuss the problems your team encountered to learn from your mistakes and find better solutions next time. Furthermore, create an opportunity for team members to share personal struggles and negative feelings attached to the failed project. This shows they are valued and appreciated team members.
Talking about problems also encourages growth and learning. Team members can learn from each other’s experiences and share resources that can help them overcome hardships.
Open dialogue about the not-so-pretty parts of teamwork will strengthen bonds between team members as they come together to resolve issues.
3 Important elements of teamwork and collaboration
Before you start implementing these tips and strategies in your workplace, take a look at the fundamental elements of teamwork and collaboration. These elements are at the core of teamwork, and without them, collaboration is impossible.
The 3 important elements of teamwork and collaboration are:
- Respect for diversity, and
- Trust in teammates.
Let’s discuss them in more detail.
Element #1: Communication
Communication is an essential skill needed for teamwork and collaboration. Effective communication enables team members to share ideas, give feedback, and collaborate easily.
The hallmark of successful communication is mutual understanding, and it hinges on two main principles — direct communication and active listening. Both of these skills are essential for effective and transparent collaboration in the workplace.
Direct communication ensures that you get your message across in a clear way, without hidden meanings or possibilities for misunderstanding.
On the other hand, active listening is the skill of giving undivided attention to your conversational partner and making sure you understand the message they are trying to convey.
Collaboration cannot exist without communication, so working on your communication skills is a must to foster teamwork.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Team communication is a comprehensive subject that cannot be explained in a few paragraphs. If you’re interested to learn more, check out our Team Communication Hub, and immerse yourself in the wide range of topics about communication:
Element #2: Respect for diversity
Every team consists of individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and skills. Embracing and respecting this diversity is a key element to fostering better teamwork and collaboration. Companies that respect different cultures are more likely to have effective teamwork, according to a study on the effectiveness of teamwork in the workplace.
When team members feel valued and heard, it creates an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone. This translates to a healthy work environment, where team members are motivated to do their best.
Respect for differences of opinion also breeds creativity. Namely, teams can benefit from embracing different viewpoints to come up with innovative solutions to their problems.
Additionally, valuing diversity helps break down barriers, unconscious biases, and stereotypes. By being open to different perspectives, we can learn and grow in both our professional and personal lives.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
To learn more about the importance of workplace diversity, check out our blog post:
Element #3: Trust in teammates
In a collaborative setting, team members rely on each other to do their share of the work. This degree of trust is necessary for teamwork to be successful.
At a basic level, trust in your teammates means you are confident that they will do their job properly. You trust that they are competent and knowledgeable in their field and that they will contribute to the success of the team.
On a deeper level, trust in your teammates extends beyond being confident in their technical abilities and skills needed to do their job. Trust can be reflected in the overall work environment if people feel comfortable sharing their opinions and differences, and being themselves. This builds a welcoming and supportive environment that encourages teamwork and collaboration.
It is true that trust takes time to develop between individuals. It’s difficult to trust someone you don’t know. But, if you encourage teamwork in the workplace, you will bring people together, and this will build trust.
Trust is an important element in teamwork, and implementing our tips will help bring your team closer, building trust along the way.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
If you want to learn more about these and other essential elements of good team collaboration, check out our guide:
Why you should foster teamwork and collaboration in the workplace
When you think about the benefits of teamwork, the words that pop up are probably productivity and efficiency.
Iva explained that in more detail:
“From an organizational perspective, when you foster a collaborative environment and have teams that function well, not only internally but also with each other, you can count on efficiency, productivity, and agility. Thriving people lead to thriving organizations, so encouraging employees to connect and work more together can help them find their common goal and make a significant impact on business success.”
Although these are the main benefits of teamwork, there are also some less obvious benefits that can positively impact the overall success of organizations.
Let’s go over some of the most important benefits of collaboration and teamwork.
Benefit #1: Teamwork and collaboration increase efficiency and productivity
Working in teams is a great way to increase efficiency and productivity.
The link between teamwork and productivity has been studied extensively in the last couple of decades, and the data is clear — teamwork boosts productivity.
Also, teamwork has a significant positive effect on the overall performance of the organization, according to research.
A number of factors contribute to the improved productivity of collaborative teams:
- Maximized resources,
- Higher degree of motivation and engagement,
- Less chance of mistakes and delays, and
- Improved information flow.
Furthermore, when tasks and responsibilities are divided among team members according to their skills, it allows each team member to focus on their area of expertise. If the work is delegated correctly, distractions and mistakes are minimized. This leads to faster results.
Team members can also help each other out. Not only can team members assist each other with the actual tasks, but they can also provide moral support. They can motivate each other and hold each other accountable for meeting deadlines and achieving desired targets. This also increases efficiency.
Additionally, communication tools have given a new meaning to the word productivity. It’s now easier than ever to communicate and collaborate, no matter where you are. This new age of productivity has enabled organizations to become more flexible than ever before.
Teamwork, with a little help of collaboration software, makes it easy to share resources. When you pool together all the necessary information and knowledge, it makes the work easier to do.
Overall, teamwork enhances efficiency and productivity by maximizing all resources and minimizing delays and mistakes.
Benefit #2: Teamwork and collaboration help build relationships
Collaborative work builds stronger interpersonal relationships between team members.
When team members work together toward a common goal, they will naturally build connections and rapport with each other. Teamwork requires communication, trust, and respect — which are all pillars of interpersonal relationships.
Strong relationships in teams will reflect in the organization as a whole. When team members have strong interpersonal relationships, they will be more motivated to succeed. Also, it creates a positive work environment, where employees will be happy to contribute.
Personal relationships between team members will ultimately contribute to the success of the team and organization as a whole by improving communication and motivation to succeed.
Benefit #3: Teamwork and collaboration improve engagement
Another significant benefit of teamwork is improved employee engagement.
When employees work in teams, they have the opportunity to actively participate, showcase their skills, and voice their opinions. This high degree of involvement in the decision-making process empowers team members and motivates them to be engaged.
When employees are engaged in their job, they are more motivated to achieve their goals. In fact, a study of 41 multinational companies found that companies with highly engaged employees achieved profit margins 5 times higher than companies with disengaged employees.
Collaboration creates an environment for employees to be engaged, which will positively impact the organization as a whole.
Benefit #4: Teamwork and collaboration boost creativity
Collaboration is one of the most effective ways to boost creativity.
One person can think of 10 great ideas, but 10 people can think of a hundred.
When people work in a collaborative setting, they bring different ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the table. This diversity sparks creativity. Team members can exchange ideas and challenge each other with different viewpoints.
Knowledge sharing between team members is one of the key practices that encourages creativity, according to research.
Also, teams that collaborate closely foster a safe environment for everyone to express their ideas freely. This also has a positive impact on creativity. Team members are free to think out of the box without fear of judgment.
If you foster collaboration, you will boost creative thinking and novelty, which will bring value to your organization with innovative solutions.
Benefit #5: Teamwork and collaboration improve soft skills
Working in teams will also improve individual soft skills, such as:
- Conflict resolution,
- Direct communication, and
Teamwork enables individuals to practice and develop these essential interpersonal skills.
Effective teamwork relies on good communication. As we’ve already covered, two very important aspects of communication are active listening and direct communication. Working in teams will help team members hone in on these skills through everyday interactions and communication.
Another important skill that is practiced in team communication is conflict resolution. When you’re working in diverse teams, disagreements and differences are bound to happen. As a collaborative team, you need to work through these together and find common ground. Conflict resolution skills are essential to nurture for a successful collaborative team.
Empathy is a building block of all of these skills. Empathy is crucial to overall organizational success, and this year’s report from Businessolver unfortunately concluded that empathy is on the decline.
Working in teams will foster empathy because team members will have an opportunity to connect and understand each other. If you foster collaboration, teams will get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, experiences, and challenges — and this will nurture empathy.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
Fostering empathy in the workplace is increasingly beneficial. To learn more about empathetic communication, why it’s important, and how to foster it, check out our blog post:
Benefit #6: Teamwork and collaboration build healthy work culture
Teamwork and collaboration also promote a healthy work culture.
Working in teams fosters a sense of community, mutual respect, and shared responsibility. It also promotes inclusivity and respect for differences. In this environment, employees feel valued and motivated.
Additionally, collaboration relies on trust and honest communication. This also provides a positive work environment, where people are comfortable sharing their thoughts.
Iva agrees and adds that collaboration itself brings a feeling of safety:
“In a collaborative environment, you will feel supported at all times and know that you’ll always have someone to ask for advice or to brainstorm ideas and find solutions to challenges you encounter. This leads to psychological safety, where you get to show up as yourself every day, not worry about how you’ll phrase a message or even what you’re going to wear to work that day — because you know that you work in a supportive environment where each member contributes with their own skill set and personality type, and is being accepted, and most importantly — valued as such.”
Overall, collaboration creates a healthy work environment that encourages growth and innovation. It enhances employee satisfaction, productivity, and the overall success of the organization.
🎓 Pumble Pro Tip
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of teamwork and collaboration, take a look at our guide:
Wrapping up: Fostering teamwork and collaboration positively affects individuals and organizations
In conclusion, fostering teamwork and collaboration in the workplace is a necessity in today’s work environment.
Teamwork and collaboration require continuous effort from individuals as well as the organization. There are no shortcuts to building a collaborative work environment — you have to continuously emphasize and encourage teamwork in your organization.
With our tips, you are one step closer to unlocking the full potential of your teams and thriving as a collaborative organization.
Ultimately, a workplace that relies on teamwork and collaboration and fosters it as a core value will be more capable of achieving great success.
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