The power of teamwork wins championships, keeps companies competitive, and raises the effectiveness of a group to more than the sum of its parts.

No one said building teamwork was easy, though. Just think about how often we see employees working at cross purposes, draining the strength and cohesiveness of a company. If you lead any kind of team, follow these four simple rules to lay the groundwork for great teamwork:

1. Create a common goal.

When the members of a team can identify a shared, focused goal--such as converting competitive accounts, successfully launching a new product, or increasing inventory turns--they are more likely to collaborate well. Give your team a common goal and then help them internalize it by repeating it often. Team members will feel they are part of a larger mission and will see that their own actions contribute to the success or failure of the whole, improving performance across the board.

2. Don't show favoritism.

Showing favoritism is one of the quickest ways for a leader to destroy teamwork. The members of a high-performing team must know that they all have the same level of opportunity, that no one has an unfair advantage over the others. Where there is favoritism, teammates are less likely to help others; they will spend more time and energy looking out for their own survival. I was once part of a sales team where the sales VP had obvious favorites. It was clear to everyone that the highest producers gained their success due to extra support and concessions provided by this VP, support the rest of us did not receive. The net result was that we stopped sharing successful sales techniques, and no one wanted to help anyone else. Needless to say, this dynamic weakened our overall effectiveness.

3. Celebrate success.

Teamwork is built on the success of individuals. When a team member achieves something great, share it with the team to build enthusiasm and confidence and show others that they can make similar accomplishments. At one company, I sent a text message to the entire sales force at the end of each day recognizing the day's most successful rep, including a short description of how the sale was closed. The impact on teamwork was electrifying. Because the successful were sharing their sales tips with others, the team environment changed from one of guardedness to one of open sharing.

4. Award performance.

Awards are a more formal version of celebrating success, and they have the added benefit of creating healthy competition among the team. Fostering competition without causing rifts among the team can be a tricky balance. To gain the maximum benefit of recognition and keep from damaging morale, follow these time-tested guidelines for award programs.

Follow these four rules, and watch your teamwork soar!

Published on: Mar 9, 2015