A group of five office professionals, including men and women, are seated in a circle and discuss a work project. The background is a modern office building.
Honest and open communication in your small business underpins team alignment and workplace harmony. — Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

In an era of business where technology predominates and face-to-face human interaction has dwindled, teamwork is more important than ever. Team alignment not only increases workplace harmony, it can directly affect the success of projects and your organization as a whole.

The act of collaborating to reach a common goal can help teams feel more connected and engaged with their work. Employees who feel supported not only by their managers but also by their colleagues are more likely to enjoy their workplace and not feel burned out.

[Read more: 5 Proven Ways to Increase Employee Satisfaction]

In a teamwork-centric environment, increased communication reduces mistakes, confusion and fear, and it inhibits feelings of working alone in a silo.

“It is so crucial for small teams to be on the same page,” said Bob Spoerl, Co-Founder and President of Bear Icebox Communications. “We often think of silos in big corporations — and those surely exist. But oftentimes, small companies suffer from the symptom of unintentional siloing.”

Spoerl shared that his full-service business-to-business public relations consultancy has experienced unintentional siloing and explained that it generally comes from a good place, like brainstorming ideas for clients, only to learn that another team member has already started this process.

“[It] isn’t necessarily a bad thing from a client perspective,” Spoerl explained. “[However], it can be a hindrance to us as we look to maximize efficiency and productivity.”

[Read more: 8 Collaborative Business Tools to Boost Your Team's Productivity]

I’ve found as a small business owner that the more authentic and transparent I can be with my team — whether it is good news or bad news — the better we are at working together and arriving at the right destination.

Bob Spoerl, Co-Founder and President of Bear Icebox Communications

How to encourage teamwork

Fostering teamwork requires small business owners to consciously make decisions with teamwork in mind. Here’s how to encourage your employees to work together cohesively and develop a stronger culture.

Hire a diverse team

Although employees with similar backgrounds and skills may get along great in the workplace, they won’t challenge each other the way a group of diverse employees will. Diverse perspectives force questions to be asked, different angles to solve problems to be taken, and shared learning to arise.

The level of diversity and inclusion present in your small business is the difference between employees who feel comfortable sharing creative ideas to better serve your customers and those who are complacent.

Encourage communication by leading by example

Frequent communication delivered with clarity during exciting business endeavors, challenging financial situations, or brainstorming meetings can foster a feeling of psychological safety, support, and togetherness.

“Be transparent about goals, challenges, and opportunities to grow together,” Spoerl said. “I’ve found as a small business owner that the more authentic and transparent I can be with my team — whether it is good news or bad news — the better we are at working together and arriving at the right destination.”

Equip your team with the right tools and resources

If you want your employees to collaborate, they will need the space and/or tools to do that. Tech tools that allow for constant communication and collaboration, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, allow remote and in-office employees to work on projects, stay on top of tasks, and have video or audio calls together when necessary.

Just as it is important to give employees a platform to collaborate, it’s equally as important to provide access to training on these tools and additional opportunities to grow their skill sets.

Set goals for shared growth

It can be difficult to grow as a company and as an employee when there are no benchmarks to measure success. Goal-setting must be communicated clearly and directly, and it should be done with the vision and mission of the business in mind.

“Setting goals helps us collectively stay organized [and] work toward the same goal post,” Spoerl explained. “[It] ultimately [ensures] to the best of our ability we’re collaborating effectively across the organization.”

Reward teamwork

Offering a reward system to employees for achieving collective goals and other progress measurements can create a shared interest that fosters teamwork. Spoerl said his company sets monthly goals with high-stake rewards like tickets to a baseball or hockey game, which can help create excitement around the task at hand.

Small businesses can even opt to set individual goals that funnel to one large collective goal. In this scenario, employees can still focus on their own responsibilities but with the mindset that they are working to help their team achieve an objective.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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