Teamwork makes the dream work, but let's face it: working well together isn't always easy.
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There are a lot of reasons why healthy teamwork can crumble, but Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report has an alarming statistic that could point the finger at one major culprit: quiet quitting.
According to their report, nearly six in 10 employees fall into the “quiet quitting” category, meaning they are “psychologically disengaged from work.” When quiet quitters are combined with actively disengaged employees, their low engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion dollars, or 9% of global GDP.
So, what are you supposed to do?
Again, just like there isn’t just one reason for lackluster teamwork, there isn’t just one silver bullet to cure quiet quitting. However, there are a lot of little things you can do to help you pinpoint causes of low engagement and remedy them.
In this blog post we have 10 strategies that you can use to help your team work together better and stay engaged. Whether you're a seasoned team lead or just starting out, these tips will help you create a collaborative culture that will keep your team engaged and fulfilled at work.
Let’s get into it!
10 ways to help your team work together better
Some of these techniques are easier—and faster—to implement than others. Don’t feel the need to add all of them to your repertoire. Think of this list as a grab bag—just pick between two and three to start with, then continue iterating and experimenting as you learn what works best.
1. Assume positive intent
When communicating with your team — and in general — it's important to approach the conversation with an open mind and give the other person the benefit of the doubt. That means believing they have good intentions and are not deliberately trying to cause problems.
Do: Assume that the other person is trying their hardest and isn’t trying to cause problems.
Don't: Jump to conclusions or assume the worst about the other person's motives.
2. Stop the blame game:
Most leaders don’t want to blame their team, but it’s easier than you’d think to accidentally fall into the blame game. Using language that blames others can create a defensive environment that causes people to disengage. Instead, frame feedback as constructive criticism that focuses on the behavior or action, not the person.
Don't: "Why did you mess up this project? You really dropped the ball!"
Do: "I noticed that this project didn't go as planned. Can you walk me through what happened and how we can prevent similar issues in the future?"
3. Practice radical candor:
Honesty is usually the best policy, but if it is delivered the wrong way, it can really sting and make people scared to try new things. Instead, radical candor is a way to be honest and direct while still showing empathy.
Don't: "Your work is terrible. You're not meeting expectations and need to do better."
Do: "I've noticed that your work isn't meeting the expectations we set. Let's work together to identify areas where you can improve and create a plan to get you there."
4. Use active listening:
You know the feeling — when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone but it’s clear they are mentally somewhere else. That’s the opposite of active listening, which involves paying attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and showing empathy. It’s a technique that can help build trust, improve communication, and increase engagement on a team—because they know they’re being listened to.
Do: Pay attention when the other person is talking, ask clarifying questions, and show empathy.
Don't: Interrupt or dismiss the other person's perspective, focus solely on your own agenda, or multitask.
5. Brainstorm as a team:
Two heads are better than one, right? Brainstorming is a technique that involves generating a large number of ideas—without judgment—in a short period of time. It can help to encourage creativity and get teams unstuck.
Do: Generate a bunch of ideas in a short period of time as a group to encourage creativity and come up with new ideas.
Don't: Criticize or dismiss ideas during the brainstorming process, or focus solely on your own ideas.
6. Help your team prioritize tasks:
It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds and become demotivated if you don’t know what to work on first. Helping your team prioritize tasks can ensure that the most important tasks are done first and that people on your team aren’t burnt out. It can also help reduce stress and improve productivity.
Do: Prioritize tasks to ensure that the most important ones are completed first.
Don't: Focus solely on urgent tasks and neglect important ones, or fail to communicate priorities with the team.
7. Establish clear roles and responsibilities:
Lack of clarity—i.e. knowing who is supposed to be working on what—can be really demotivating and cause duplicated work. Establishing clear roles and responsibilities on your team can help make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them.
Do: Clearly communicate and document each team member's role and responsibilities to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them.
Don't: Assume that everyone knows what their role and responsibilities are, or neglect to communicate changes in roles or responsibilities.
8. Keep track of progress:
It’s impossible to improve as a team if you don’t know where you’ve been. Luckily, regularly reviewing and evaluating progress—both on projects and professional development—can help to identify areas for improvement and ensure that the team is on track to achieve its goals.
Do: Regularly evaluate progress to identify areas for improvement and ensure that the team is on track to achieve its goals.
Don't: Neglect to review progress or fail to act on feedback or areas for improvement.
9. Celebrate achievements and milestones:
Did you know that, according to research from Bonusly, nearly half of employees have left a job because they felt under appreciated? Celebrating achievements and milestones isn’t just a nice thing to do—it can help create a sense of accomplishment as a team and improve retention.
Do: Recognize when someone on your team — or the whole team! — have accomplished something big.
Don't: Neglect to acknowledge or celebrate achievements or milestones, or fail to recognize the contributions of individual team members.
10. Make time for fun:
As important as it is to get work done, to really engage your team and learn from each other, sometimes it’s important to also make time for fun. Team building activities that don’t suck can help to build trust and create a more collaborative environment.
Do: Plan team outings (even virtual ones), workshops, and social events to build trust and create a more collaborative environment.
Don't: Force team members to participate in activities they are uncomfortable with or don't enjoy.
Teach your team how to use these tips
Once you've put these tips into practice and found the ones that work best for you and your team, it’s time to teach your team how to implement them in their own work. Doing so can help build a culture of intentional teamwork that will benefit everyone.
Pro tip: Move your team’s projects into Switchboard to take your teamwork to the next level. Instead of taking turns to share a screen, everyone can roll up their sleeves and participate.
By teaching your team your tricks, you'll empower them to work together more effectively, even when you're not around. And that's the beauty of it—by investing in your team's collaboration skills, you're creating a self-sustaining culture of teamwork and engagement that can benefit the entire organization.