Soft skills, also known as interpersonal skills, are slowly becoming as important to employers as technical skills since many soft skills are eroding in this era of digital communications.
Yet the fact that we work with diverse personalities, often in distributed teams and with constant staff turnover, makes establishing strong team working principles that much more important. Here are ways how employers can help to implement effective team working skills.
Promote Open and Honest Communication
Whether you’re a manager or a subordinate, you should be able to accept honest criticism when it is given for good reasons from the right people.
It is counterproductive for someone to be told at an annual performance review that their performance is subpar when no one pointed out their mistakes or educated them about the right way to do things for months. Nor should you let someone think that politeness means they have to fill negative reports with so much praise and modifiers that the critical message is lost.
Make it clear that the company itself wants to encourage people to ask questions when they don’t understand something. This can take the form of ensuring that managers let people ask questions about their instructions and give constructive feedback regarding concerns and requiring managers to be open and honest. Don’t let rumors of staff cuts circulate; instead, have honest team meetings on a regular basis to discuss concerns.
Create Team Building Events
Team building events are a great way to build a closer bond between members of your team. It’s also a great way to teach the importance of teamwork and allow them to build group problem-solving skills.
Since many team building activities include problem simulation, these allow team members to develop these skills without the stress that usually comes with real-time situations.
Not only that but team building activities can also help improve communication and build trust between members of your team. They’re a great way to keep your employees motivated and boost team morale as well.
If you’re located in London, you should look for London based team building ideas that will fit your team member’s personalities and interests.
Have a no-gossip policy so that people don’t feel tempted to gossip at work. Instead, encourage your team to communicate with those they have a problem within a constructive manner rather than complaining to others behind someone’s back but never really addressing the issue or resolving anything.
This prevents people from complaining about co-workers who aren’t properly trained to other co-workers and instead drives them to talk to managers and team leads about training. In comparison, gossip about people undermines the trust necessary for teams to work together effectively. It also empowers bullies to engage in office politics to hurt people even when they have no actual authority in the workplace.
Another way to cultivate trust is to empower people within their job category and expertise. For example, allow the cashier to accept returns below a modest amount or order meals remade without having to call in a manager.
Teach People How to Solve Problems
You can improve teamwork in the workplace by teaching people how to work together to solve problems. When there is a disagreement, instead of relying on the boss to act as a referee or demanding that everyone compromise, teach them how to solve problems collaboratively so that everyone is happy with the solution. You’re more likely to get solutions that everyone can live with and which works well for the group.
The side benefit of teaching collaborative problem solving is that managers don’t come to resent employees for constantly coming to them to mediate disputes, and fewer issues bubble up to managers to solve in the first place.
Collaborative solutions aren’t always possible. This is why teaching people healthy conflict resolution is necessary as well. This involves teaching them how to address a mistake or lack of information without attacking the person. It requires learning how to keep your emotions under control so that correction or even discipline is effective. It means learning that you can’t dredge up a litany of complaints from the past, rendering the problem unsolvable.
Your company can improve teamwork in the workplace through effective training programs, shifts in company policy and improvements in the company culture. The long-term results include less drama in the workplace, better teamwork, and improved communication.