Getting everyone on a small team to align their efforts can be surprisingly challenging. However, some straightforward steps for improving teamwork in a small business can make a real difference – even if some or all team members work remotely.
Why teamwork is challenging in small businesses
In a large corporation, each person has a clearly defined role – and usually, most processes are clearly defined too.
That’s seldom the case in a small business. Instead, team members in SMEs often end up performing roles and tasks that aren’t part of formal job descriptions.
They pitch in and adapt as needs arise. They learn new things, create new processes and get things done “on the fly”, as and when required.
This flexibility is a potential advantage for small businesses. However, it makes it difficult to isolate clear roles and processes. In turn, this can hamper teamwork.
It can lead to conflict, missteps, duplication of work and other issues.
Steps for improving teamwork in SMEs
1. Set aside time for everyone to communicate about what they do
It’s absolutely worth taking an hour or two out of normal production time for this exercise.
Have everyone on the team prepare a concise summary of the tasks they handle each month. Then get everyone together (online or off), to communicate what they do.
This improves teamwork through better understanding and appreciation of the various roles within the team.
Knowing details of who does what (and when) eliminates uncertainty, ensures business activities aren’t replicated and prevents unnecessary squabbles. It also helps create empathy.
Accurate employment contracts are still important, of course. But this approach recognises that there’s more to job roles in small businesses than can be captured in initial, top-down job descriptions.
Modern roles tend to evolve quickly, especially in small businesses.
It may be worth repeating this exercise, annually or when new people join your team.
It can also feed into annual reviews of people’s employment contracts so that the job descriptions on record remain in tune with what people really do.
2. Promote a team-based approach to problem-solving
Instead of tackling challenges at management level, encourage input from the entire team. Allow everyone to share ideas, express opinions and have a say in resolving issues.
This builds trust. It can improve relationships and drive discourse.
Even if people on your team work remotely, it’s possible to collaborate via a range of online tools.
3. Exploit team collaboration tools
Collaboration tools enable workers to communicate on demand and in real time.
Increasingly, even team members sitting in the same workspace rely on collaboration tools to communicate.
That’s because the tools are efficient. It’s much faster to send out a quick query or request than to draft an email and wait for a response, or to organise a physical meeting.
Seamless communication improves efficiencies and strengthens relationships. It’s the answer to maintaining a strong teamwork culture, even in a remote or hybrid work environment.
4. Embark on team-building activities
Regular team-building activities allow people to bond away from the work environment. Getting to know each other in a casual setting can enrich relationships.
Completing tasks and solving problems as a group improves communication, enhances team morale and increases individual confidence levels.
5. Maintain sight of the individual
A team consists of a close-knit group of individuals. It only works when members are recognised for the unique contributions they make.
Acknowledging each individual and providing space for opinions to be voiced is the essence of successful teamwork.
6. Take an efficient approach to conflict resolution
When conflict arises, make a point of dealing with it straight away. Remain calm and listen to each party.
Discuss the origin of the conflict with everyone present. After assessing the facts, resolve the conflict and move forward while maintaining relationships.
A collaborative environment to improve teamwork at The Workspace
The Workspace offers work environments that are ideal for encouraging collaboration and improving teamwork in small businesses.
Members using either our coworking spaces or private serviced offices have access to comfortable lounge and relaxation areas. These are ideal for informal get-togethers and meetings.
All our branches also offer private meeting rooms and professional boardrooms for hire, by the hour, half day or day.