Encouraging Teamwork in the Workplace. (Today's Accounting Manager)

Article excerpt

Today's accounting firms are highly collaborative. The increase in using project teams and greater reliance on the Internet and teleconferencing require staff to communicate effectively and work well together. As a manager, you need to take the lead in creating a positive, team-oriented environment. This requires much more than just pulling together a group of employees and labeling them a "team"-you need to turn the talents, knowledge and efforts of individuals into a collective force.

Set the Right Example

Start by assessing your own behavior. Employees will take their cues from you, so make sure your actions and words aren't sending conflicting messages. For instance, if you constantly complain about working with certain colleagues or clients, you are telling your employees that teamwork is difficult--which certainly won't inspire them to want to partner with others.

Be enthusiastic about your job. If you are upbeat, others will be too. Even if you're faced with major problems at work, remember that you choose how you react to them. Being positive during these situations is even more critical than when things are going well. Not only will you reduce your own stress level, but you'll also help your team focus on what can be done during less-than-favorable circumstances.

Establish a Common Goal

Another key to successful teambuilding is getting your employees to buy into an assigned project or mission. Explain not only what the group needs to accomplish, but also why it's important and how the objective relates to the firm and its overall priorities. For example, if your team will be researching accounting practices in another country, be sure to clarify why this is time-sensitive and critical. Perhaps a client will be expanding into that area of the world soon, which could generate additional business for your firm if you develop the necessary expertise. And if all goes well with this company, your organization could ultimately form a new group devoted to international accounting.

Clearly explain your expectations to team members. You are responsible for obtaining first-rate work from your employees, so when issuing assignments, make sure that your staff is fully aware of the quality standards expected.

Allow Teams to Develop

Providing opportunities for employees to get to know each other can greatly improve collaboration within a group. For example, asking staff to cross-train one another can give them a better understanding of the responsibilities, pressures and priorities of their coworkers. They'll also learn how another person's role fits into a larger mission at the firm. …