By Laurie Kaiser
In this still-shaky economy, the workplace often feels like it’s every man (or woman) for himself. With fewer people to carry the workload or with fears of future layoffs, workers have the tendency to burrow in and keep their heads down. But does that attitude help the company grow and prosper? Certainly not as successfully as teamwork does.
Start with getting all employees on board with the company’s vision and goals. One way to foster communication and alignment is to create cross-functional or cross-departmental teams.
These teams can break down the barriers that keep a company from operating as a cohesive unit. These teams also will help open communication to make your organization able to response quickly to the ever-changing marketplace. Following are some ways to build and nurture a successful cross-departmental team.
- Take action. When a team project encompasses many elements, it can be overwhelming. Dive in and make something happen.
- Cooperate with the inevitable. Overreacting to every crisis not only disrupts the team, it accomplishes nothing. Every organization has inherent, inevitable challenges — from production delays to bad weather. Deal with it.
- Try to profit from your losses. Every problem the team encounters offers an opportunity to create better organizational skills, processes or relationships.
- Do the very best you can. When team efforts fail to turn out as planned, it’s natural to feel stressed and worried. It’s even worse when you know that you could have tried harder and done better. If you put this “do your best” practice into place, you will always be able to feel a sense of pride in your work.
- Clear your workspace. A clear workspace clears you mind while a chaotic one confuses it. Especially if you share your workspace with others on the team, keep that workspace organized and clean up after yourself.
- Prioritize. Sort out shifting priorities and act on them as quickly as possible. Other team members respect and understand shifting priorities when we explain them thoughtfully and honestly.
- Solve problems immediately. Procrastination undermines effective teamwork. As team members, we feel anxious and stressed when responsibilities pile up. Other team members will appreciate the ability to get things done quickly and move on.
- Be enthusiastic. A lack of energy and enthusiasm in one team member can bring down the rest of the team. Don’t be that person. Get past obstacles and frustrations and maintain a personal level of enthusiasm that is infectious.