People often discuss the importance of teamwork in a corporate setting, but few offer actionable solutions for fostering bonds between employees. It’s clear that teamwork plays a vital role in inspiring employees, maintaining accountability, and fostering the community aspects needed for healthy corporate culture. Just as your personal friendships and relationships are multifaceted, so too are the methods for fostering teamwork and cultivating a culture of cooperation at your company.

Communication is Key

The foundation of your relationships, be they personal or professional, is strong communication. Regular individual touch-bases and with team meetings have their place, but they simply can’t meet the on-demand needs that face your team in a dynamic environment. Likewise, it’s also been demonstrated that communication outside of meetings is needed for successful teamwork. Therefore, a key component of developing a teamwork-friendly atmosphere is to have a dedicated communication channel, preferably through a purpose-made group messaging app.

Group messaging apps allow for faster, on-the-fly communication than email or face-to-face meetings can offer, thereby enabling team members to stay in touch as problems arise. Furthermore, it corals work-related chats into an organized channel, which allows logs to be used later for both meetings and long-term tracking of projects.

All Work and No Play

Team meetings are an essential part of any group’s success. While it’s important to focus these group endeavors around getting the project done, there’s no reason you can’t introduce a little fun into the mix. By relaxing team meetings and incorporating leisure activities, it inspires members to be more relaxed, and therefore more open to connecting with partners on a deeper level.

Find a leisure activity that encourages exterior competition while fostering internal cohesion. A bowling league or similar games are a perfect fit for this, as they teach your team to work together to tackle problems in a relaxed environment. These interpersonal connections will naturally carry over into a work-focused environment.

Set Team Goals

Personal quotas are all well and good for measuring individual performance, but they do nothing to foster teamwork. In fact, structuring expectations to only measure individual performance encourages employees not only to think of themselves as an separate unit, but can lead to unhealthy competition that hurts the company’s performance overall.

Having a clear goal helps team members stay on target and meet deadlines. By having a light at the end of the tunnel, your team members are more able to measure progress and identify areas where more collective effort and attention is needed. This is especially effective when paired with regular meetings and a dedicated group messaging app so team members can run triage on project aspects in immediate need of collective effort.

Play to Your Strengths

The goal for any team is to be more than the sum of its parts. One the main advantages of distinguishing members and getting to know your team as individuals is that it enables you to highlight precisely what each member brings to the table. Use this information to your advantage and build teams that mutually complement each member’s talents and provide cover for their weaknesses.

This reciprocal relationship creates a community safety net and inspires employees to not only celebrate their coworkers’ unique skills, but actually structures it so that they directly benefit from others’ talents while in turn using their own skills to return the favor. Likewise, as a leader it will keep you from playing favorites as no one person outshines others outside of their delegated sphere of influence.

Celebrate Success

Whether analyzing sports teams, corporate partnerships, or academic group assignments, it’s undeniable that people perform better in the long run when they receive recognition for their accomplishments. Take the time to acknowledge not just individual successes, but the triumphs of teams as a whole. This way, your teammates learn to not only value their own achievements, but also participate and benefit from the successes of their combined talents.

Celebrating teamwork allows you and your associates an additional opportunity to work together and be creative. You can put together an in-team raffle for prizes, organize a group lunch, or even open up your celebration to other coworkers. This has the added benefit of inspiring other teams to achieve the same level of success. If possible, consider tying bonuses and other work-related incentives directly to team performances, as this gives a more immediately tangible reward for working together.

A Comprehensive Plan

Your team is composed of members with their own unique personalities and skill sets. Likewise, your approach to fostering teamwork must be equally varied, designed to tackle a broad set of problems and challenges. Encourage communication, recognize individual talents, and make sure to celebrate your team as a whole. Taken together, these simple steps will cultivate the necessary culture and environment for your team to succeed.