The Plastics Training Specialists

Tips for encouraging Teamwork

Businesses live or die as a result of how their employees work together. A weak link in the chain of production will result in issues arising and the potential for failure somewhere down the line. This is true particularly for manufacturing, but is really applicable to any business. As employers and managers, it is important to encourage a culture of not only acting as part of common group, but also to encourage being part of a seamless team which must strive to create nothing but success in order to stay together.

Feeling part of a team across departments in a business is just as important as feeling a part of a particular department’s team. In plastics manufacturing businesses, from Sales, through to planning, to raw material storage & preparation, to the full production process, quality assurance, packaging, storage and then distribution, and finally to customer service & maintenance, if those individual teams do not act like one team to get the job done, there could be many disasters along the way.

In the plastics industry, where 24 hour operations are the norm, how the baton is passed from one shift to the next is of the utmost importance in determining how the company performs.
Another factor is that it is so easy for staff members to start feeling like nothing but cogs in a wheel, and it is not an easy task to make each individual feel valued, particularly when dealing with teams of anything over 5 people. We have put together a few short points of what we think could be helpful when trying to make staff members feel part of a team.

Encourage communication skills
Having so many departments needing to work as a team means that every second of the day, and every action that is made on a project revolves around people successfully being able to communicate with each other. Most businesses run well using systems that guide the process along, in order for no steps to be missed, and for departments to be held accountable for their actions. Outside of systems however, particularly when it comes to departments that require shift handovers, knowing the elements that need to be communicated as well as how they need to be communicated are a vital way to encourage good teamwork and lowered frustration levels.

Create a platform to voice concerns & to compliment work well done
As with any healthy relationship, even outside of the professional context, communication is key to understanding and resolving issues. It is a big mistake to be under the impression that mistakes and miscommunications are not going to happen and, in order for frustration not to build up, staff members should be taught as part of their induction process, what the correct time, place and manner in which to approach issues that arise is. 

Create a platform that is visited on a frequent basis, where reviews on the progress of current projects can be done and complaints or compliments can be aired in a non-confrontational way. This will encourage better communication horizontally as well as vertically and help problems to be addressed instead of being hidden for fear of reprisals.

Encourage members to share their backgrounds with each other
As soon as colleagues start seeing each other more as people and teammates, rather than just reflections of the department they are in and the positions they hold, there are certain barriers which are broken down, and communication becomes much easier. When people feel that they are able to admit they are wrong without having detrimental repercussions, there may be less covering up when something goes wrong, and issues that may previously have caused a divide will allow staff to see each other as fallible humans, and may bring them closer as a team.
This can be done overtly by specifically doing various team building exercises during work hours, by going on social company outings, having a braai at the workplace, or can be done more subtly by simply creating more friendly “common areas” such as the canteen, or rest area. By doing this, employees will feel more compelled to spend time in those areas, and conversations will happen naturally.

Send staff on training
When people first start working in an organisation, coming from a variety of different backgrounds, they are bound to have quite different skill sets, some being more qualified and more comfortable in their job role than others. Differences in confidence to do their job can have a negative impact on how people work together, because when people feel that they will perform inadequately, or, no matter how hard they try, will not be able to perform to the same standard as their colleagues, they will stop trying to perform at their best, and even start resenting those who do well.

At the end of the day there will always be new challenges to face when dealing with people, but regardless of how employees get on socially, people need to work together professionally for the team to succeed. If you have any other tips to add, please send them through to, as we would love to hear your feedback and what has worked for you.