Improve Teamwork for a More Engaged and Productive Workforce

Effective teamwork is important in the creation of an engaged and productive workplace. However, in some work environments, this dynamic can be difficult to achieve. The causes vary, but a lack of teamwork usually results in low employee engagement and an absence of creative and productive input.

For us, teamwork is critical for us to do well in the hardwood lumber industry. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to serve the needs of our customers effectively.062117 0292

Whether it is seeing an order of hardwood lumber through from inquiry to shipment or coordinating operations between employees in our sawmills and concentration yards, teamwork is essential for a seamless experience for our customers.

We regularly ask our leaders to analyze how they can improve their team’s effectiveness. When we do, we have found these are great areas for them to focus on.

Lead by example. It’s always worth remembering that employees look to their managers and other leaders as examples of how to conduct themselves in the workplace. If you aim to improve teamwork, lead by example. Look for opportunities where senior managers can visibly work together to accomplish a specific goal.

Encourage communication. Teams are at their best when everyone is on the same page. When employees communicate frequently, provide updates on team initiatives and projects, and feel comfortable asking for (and providing) feedback, teams are more effective. Fortunately, technological resources such as texting, email, and video chat are great tools that allow employees to communicate when engaged in a team effort.

Listen! As a team leader, you’re expected to issue directions and offer guidance. But listening is just as important as talking when you are looking to move your team towards increased productivity. Listen closely to how members of the team describe the process of working together. You may uncover obstacles that impede progress or learn more about an individual employee’s budding leadership skills. At the very least, active listening makes team members feel their opinions and input are valued, not ignored.

Recognize team efforts. Demonstrating appreciation and gratitude for a team’s hard work consistently boosts morale and productivity. Seek out opportunities to make note of the team’s achievement and recognize team leaders for guiding a project to completion. It is important to showcase how employees working together as a high-functioning team is something everyone can be part of, regardless of their individual roles within the organization.

Engage in offsite (non-work) team building activities. Teamwork happens when people feel they share a bond with their co-workers. Whenever possible, take the team offsite—to a bowling alley, baseball game, a popular local restaurant, and let people relax an informal setting. They will learn more about each other and feel a stronger connection when it’s time to return to the workplace and work together as a team.

Promote creativity and act on the team’s fresh ideas. In many cases, employees know as much (or more) about business operations and customer relations as the people in charge. Invite team members to offer creative ideas on how to achieve improvement in these areas. Select the most valuable suggestions and implement changes based on those suggestions. This will generate renewed enthusiasm for more input in the future.

The hardwood lumber business, like most others, relies on teamwork. Whether it be a forester working with a landowner to harvest the hard maple and cherry on their land, or a trucker driver working picking up a load on kiln dried lumber for one of our yards on time, the more we work together the better the process becomes.

How do you encourage effective teamwork with your team? Let us know, we would love to hear your thoughts!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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