10 Strategies to Improve Teamwork in Your Startup

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” ― Steve Jobs

Every team leader’s daydream is to create a cooperative workflow so every task, meeting, and deadline is met with great precision and executed in a timely manner. There’s simply no better feeling than when everything just fits perfectly. However, this is not always the case, and startups often face struggles to deliver an end-product without first suffering a great deal. 

Although, there are many case studies about startups emerging successful without first going through hell and those who do usually blame it on one main culprit – great teamwork.

Teamwork may sound simple enough, but it doesn’t always happen naturally. Many startups are baffled by the challenge of stimulating a decent level of teamwork, but whenever they search for help, they usually find a solution that works.

If you think that nurturing teamwork is important for every startup’s growth and success, here are 10 great strategies on how to improve it.

1. Be a Good Role Model

Tell everyone how you want things done by showing them how you do it. 

Don’t position yourself as the boss that only shouts out orders – none in your team will be able to relate. Instead, step into each team member’s shoes and understand their responsibilities. Work hard and communicate with everyone, in other words, show your team exactly what you want by practicing it yourself.

Leading by example will take you one step closer to building a productive and hardworking team.

2. Build Trust With a Concrete Plan

Teams often fail when there is not enough trust and respect. Patrick Lencioni, a renowned business author, explains how you need to teach each team member to show vulnerability in his hugely successful “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”. Encourage everyone to freely admit when they get something wrong, don’t know how to do something, or need help. 

This is best done by developing a plan that you’ll execute during your meetings. The steps are as follows:

  1. Give everyone a chance to ask questions and give comments on the things they don’t understand;
  2. Encourage all to vent about the challenges they’re facing and give them the freedom to ask for advice and help;
  3. Put all your colleagues’ names in a bowl and let everyone draw a random name. The task is for each person to give a positive comment to the coworker they selected.

This is a great exercise to make everyone appreciate each other and goes a long way into building trust for your whole team.

You can use Impraise to exchange feedback and get a better understanding of each other.

3. Recognize Individual Strengths

Everyone has a different set of qualities and passions as we all go through different experiences in life. Learn to appreciate these differences and acknowledge the variety of strengths in your team. Every great leader’s cornerstone is the ability to combine each individual strength and form a team with a complete skillset to efficiently tackle down even the most laborious problems.

We all have faults and weaknesses, but our combined strength is what makes the difference.

4. Resolve Conflicts With a Protocol

You can build a pleasant atmosphere in your startup with a harmonious workflow, but the truth is, conflicts will arise no matter what.

What you can do is discuss setting up a protocol for resolving conflicts with your most trusted coworkers. When it’s ready, make it available to every employee. In the beginning, it won’t be 100% effective, but you can fine-tune it with each arising conflict.

That being said, you will develop your conflict management skills with experience, and with a pre-set protocol you’ll learn to recognize a conflict in the making, so you can effectively dodge that bullet.

5. Establish a Peer System

It’s always a best practice to pair every new hire with a seasoned employee. Having someone to guide them through the onboarding process means much and more to each new hire. 

Assigning an experienced peer to a fresh employee will not only get them acquainted with the company culture, but it also forms a strong bond between the pairing, usually resulting in great collaboration in the long run – one of the core principles of teamwork.

You can use a tool like Crystal to determine everyone’s personality traits, so you can make a good decision when figuring out who of your veteran employees would be most suitable to pair with the new hire. You can always ask for volunteers though – give your coworkers a chance to feed their urge to stand out.

6. Organize Quick Team-Building Events

Get-togethers and office parties are a great way to ignite friendship and creativity among team members. But team-building activities don’t always have to involve expensive trips or excessive amounts of alcohol to get employees to socialize (something startups can rarely afford).

One of our favorite tools for organizing team-building events is The Go Game, especially for remote ones. The Go Game is an interactive platform that encourages participation and everyone will enjoy it as a repeatable bonding solution. 

The whole team can tune in from their homes and play fun trivia games, crack unsolved mysteries with mutual effort, or laugh while lip-synching. It’s such a great way to break the ice between colleagues that are otherwise shy to talk to each other. 

7. Invest in a Solid Team Management Tool

We’ve dealt with tons of services for productivity and collaboration for our startup, and over the years, we’ve refined our list of favorites so we’d like to share it with you. 

Check out our list of the best tools to manage teams:

  1. Basecamp – organize projects, share files, discuss, assign tasks with deadlines, create to-dos, and much more, for the most effective in-office or remote teamwork;
  2. Trello – create signature boards, cards, and lists, to prioritize projects in a fun and flexible way;
  3. Slack – creative instant messaging for the whole office, with quirky reactions to boost camaraderie among colleagues;
  4. Monday – visually stunning boards for each of your projects where everyone can see who’s working on what and offer their assistance.

8. Show Gratitude and Reward Employees

Recognition is key for every strong, healthy team. Express sincere feelings when you’re satisfied with the work of your coworkers. Show them that you appreciate their efforts and thank them for the privilege to have them as colleagues and friends. This goes a long way in increasing the levels of self-worth and respect in every startup, so every time you have that chance say those magic words!

A satisfied employee is a better employee, and rewards certainly help with that. A bonus or a promotion is a great way to boost employees’ productivity, but the reward doesn’t always have to be monetary. Grant people some extra vacation days and send company-wide emails to congratulate them on their achievements.

9. Take Regular Breaks and Have Fun

It doesn’t always have to be a team-building event for people to get a chance to bond. You can always improvise brief encounters where you can all share a quick game of charades or go to the nearest coffee shop and grab coffee and chat. Taking frequent breaks takes the edge off of stressful and mundane tasks and helps reevaluate the end-goal.

One of our favorite routines to cut people some slack is ordering a snack box from Snacknation. All of their snacks are delicious and fun to enjoy and help the whole team relax and rejuvenate after putting in the hard work.

10. Celebrate!

Reaching a milestone should feel like winning a championship. Celebrating team wins, or even small goals like meeting a deadline, help promote closeness in a team, encourage conversations, and boost jubilation.

It’s simply much easier to motivate a team to work smarter and harder when they recognize their efforts are being appreciated. This way they’re also reminded that your startup goals are worth striving for.