How to Improve Teamwork in the Workplace

Teamwork is one of those overdone, under-utilized topics that you come across when searching for ways to establish cooperative teams in the workplace. With so many different personalities working together in a close-knit environment, it’s difficult to connect with each other if you don’t have a framework in place. Most information available online consists of irrelevant recommendations that aren’t very helpful, such as:

  • “Casual Friday meetings”
  • “Really innovative meetings”
  • “Make communication two-way”
  • “Focus on strengths”
  • Rules to limit attendees at meetings
  • Team excursions

Although interesting points, these recommendations fail to target what teamwork in the workplace is really all about. Building trust instead of building comradery is one of the best strategies to improve team performance.

Teamwork is your greatest competitive advantage

In business, your competition can easily duplicate your process, technology, equipment, or materials. However, they can’t duplicate your teams. That’s how teamwork becomes your greatest competitive advantage.

One of the best frameworks for learning how to bring a team together, is found in a book called “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patick Lencioni. Aiming not to focus on the negatives or dysfunctions, but instead focusing on things that can actually be done to grow teamwork, such as building trust.

Trust is the foundation of teamwork in the workplace

Teaming up with John Riley & Sons, Lencioni created a program to develop productive, high-functioning teams. Known as “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team”, this program enables business owners to create truly cohesive teams by focusing on:

  1. Trust
  2. Conflict
  3. Commitment
  4. Accountability
  5. Results

Before teamwork can be achieved, trust must be established between co-workers. Now, there are two types of trust you can build between a team, predictive trust and vulnerability-based trust.

Predictive trust:

Developing predictive trust is easy when you’ve worked with someone for a period of time, as you’ll come to realize:

  • How that person will behave
  • How they’re going to handle situations
  • How reliable they are
  • How consistent they are

Vulnerability-based trust:

Slightly harder to establish between colleagues is vulnerability-based trust. Nevertheless, when this connection takes place, you create a comfortable atmosphere where:

  • Everyone can be honest
  • You have each other’s backs
  • There’s no judgement
  • You hold each other accountable,
  • You put each other’s interests first.

Both components of trust are essential for building strong relationships with your co-workers or employees, and are the foundations of creating effective teams in the workplace.

How to bring a team together with vulnerability-based trust

Rather than focusing on building comradery on your next team bowling night or virtual zoom wine tasting events, concentrate on the conversations between two people or between a person and a group of people. You’ll know vulnerability-based trust is developing when you hear expressions such as:

  • “I’m sorry”
  • “I messed up”
  • “I need help”

This trust between co-workers cannot be duplicated by your competitors. Encouraging this behavior at work starts with demonstrating to your colleagues that:

  • You won’t be judgemental
  • You’ll always be honest
  • You share the same values
  • You’ll always have their best interests at heart
  • You want them to be successful

Building vulnerability-based trust is the key to creating cohesive, productive, and high-functioning teams that will outlast and outperform any of your competitors. Supporting your team in the workplace starts with your behavior. At Carolina Training and Assessments, we’re very proud to be authorized partners for “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team” program. If you’d like to learn how to build more effective and more cohesive teams in the workplace, get in touch.



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