How to encourage teamwork and create a highly successful work environment

Creating a climate of openness is important to encourage your team to work together effectively. Here are big business teamwork examples that have been amazingly successful in making teams highly productive.

Cut-throat corporate culture often discourages individual employees from speaking up when they should. Subordinates especially may remain quiet about important issues or something they know could harm their job or the organisation through fear of sounding ignorant, incompetent, intrusive, or even disrespectful towards their superiors and other team members.

Colleagues fearing ridicule won’t ask questions, offer ideas or admit mistakes, and won’t challenge the status quo of the company, robbing employees and companies of opportunities to learn, improve, and innovate. In such a toxic work environment, team members spend more time focused on petty grievances than actually contributing towards improving the organisation.

Prepare to make radical change if you want success

We learn to protect ourselves from potential ridicule from a young age, especially at school, and eventually, it becomes second nature. Rather than ask questions, we assume that we’re supposed to already know the answer and will go and figure it out later. By the time we’re adults, this self-deprecating mindset is already ingrained in our psyche. Breaking these bad habits to create a climate of openness is a radical change that must be pro-actively embraced in a highly structured way to be truly successful.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to encourage teamwork and create a climate of openness successfully like some of today’s most forward-thinking companies.

Lessons in teamwork

The success of any organisation lies in a mix of talent, skill, and teamwork. A good team enables members to be productive as individuals and collectively. Even for teams collaborating remotely the fundamental dynamics of successful teamwork remain the same.

“Technology alone is not enough”

Former Apple frontman Steve Jobs knew how to encourage teamwork and that having a communal space for employees to cross paths was where some of the best creations occurred. When he bought the animation studio Pixar, he created one vast space with an atrium at the centre. He moved meeting rooms, a coffee bar, post boxes, a gift shop, and a cafeteria to the atrium to encourage people of different cultures and skill sets to go there and collaborate.

How to encorage teamwork - Image of the pixar logo above studio entrance

The Avengers Lesson

The Avengers lesson is basically that one team is better than one person, or “ONE is better than one”. A group of five can likely accomplish more than a single person, but the magic happens when those five people work together as a team. They work together, putting aside their egos and trusting each other despite their differences. Importance is placed on recognising the value that the others bring to the table and acting as a whole unit.

Creating a climate of psychological safety in work teams

To allow teams to work well together, you first need to create a climate of openness and ‘psychological safety’, which means creating a working environment where employees know it’s okay to speak up with questions, concerns, or admit mistakes. Ensuring the team feels safe for interpersonal risk-taking frees up individuals so they can really engage with each other, rather than being afraid of each other.

How to encourage teamwork – Three ways to create a climate of psychological safety

Leaders aiming for psychological safety in the workplace can take these three steps to ensure team members aren’t afraid to speak up:

Step 1. Create a rationale for speaking up

Frame projects as a learning problem. Recognise and admit that there’s uncertainty ahead which will require an enormous amount of team interdependence. Make sure that your team knows that everyone needs to contribute and everyone’s voice needs to be heard.

Step 2. Create safety for speaking up by acknowledging your own fallibility

Recognise your own fallibility if you are in a senior position. Encourage team members to let you know what’s on their minds. You can do this by saying simple things such as, “Can I get some guidance and insight from you on this project as you’ve got more insight with this client than I have?”. Doing so creates a greater sense of safety and encourages individual employees to speak up.

Step 3. Create necessity for others to speak up by modelling curiosity

Lead by example by asking a lot of questions, even the most obvious ones. You’ll encourage others to do the same and promote the notion that there’s no such thing as a silly question.

How to encourage teamwork – Five dynamics of effective teams

Effective teams are where the production happens. They are where innovative ideas are created and tested and where employees experience the majority of their work. On the other hand, a team is also where interpersonal issues, ill-suited skill sets, and unclear group goals can cause friction and stall productivity.

Google ensures teamwork success by putting psychological safety first

Researchers at Google studied 180 teams over two years for Project Aristotle to find out how to encourage teamwork. The project’s name is inspired by the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s quote – “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. The 2012 release of the study results pointed to psychological safety as the prime motivator for teamwork success, along with four other fundamental dynamics.

Psychological safety

A team has high psychological safety when team members feel confident to speak up. They take risks around their teammates and are allowed to be vulnerable in front of each other. They feel confident that they won’t be shamed or ridiculed for asking questions, admitting to mistakes, or offering new ideas.


When teams are dependable, members are reliable, completing quality work on time. This is the opposite of shirking responsibilities and means that team members can rely on each other to get things done on time.

Structure and clarity

Team members must have clear roles, plans, and goals to work towards. Meaning that each team member clearly understands their job expectations and how to fulfil them, along with the consequence of their performance on the effectiveness of the team. Goals should be specific, challenging, and attainable.


Finding a sense of purpose is important for team effectiveness. This can either be the work itself or the output. The meaning of work can vary for each person and can be tied to anything from financial security, supporting family, team success, or individual self-expression.


Seeing that their work is contributing to the organisation’s goals has a positive impact on those individual team members. Feeling that their work matters is important for team effectiveness as it allows each member to feel valued and appreciated by management and colleagues alike.

As a team building event organiser, we see first-hand the huge impact and positive effect team members get from participating in our team building activities. We see people start off by feeling uncertain, and by the end are confidently collaborating with their team members.

Activities such as our CSI: Forensic Challenge create a climate of openness and collaboration and to get people out of their shells, working together towards a common goal. Browse the full list of indoor team-building activities we have developed or give us a call and tell us about your needs and budget so we can recommend an ideal event for you.