There’s a problem with teamwork and collaboration in the workplace.

Teamwork is supposed to encourage an environment where difficult tasks can be tackled through a collaborative effort. The function of teamwork essentially promotes workers to be open and solve problems together, breaking creative barriers with other employees based on each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

However, that’s not always the case.

Nearly 50% of employees who’ve worked in large teams admitted that it’s difficult due to different working styles, according to new research.

A survey conducted by Reflektive, a performance management platform, found that teamwork is the thorn in US workers’ side, with 46% saying they found it hard to contribute in a meaningful way with larger teams.

The study, which interviewed more than 1,000 US employees, found that more than a third of employees said alignment is the biggest challenge to successful business execution, meaning companies aren’t investing the right amount of time and resources to encourage collaboration.

“Business success today hinges on employees’ ability to work together in teams,” Reflektive CEO Greg Brown said in a statement. “And teams work best when their members and efforts are aligned. But without the proper tools, open communication, and goal visibility, it’s hard for teams to get and stay on the same page, track business progress and achieve optimal business outcomes.”

One expert recently said the four drivers for successful teamwork are open communication, respect, commitment, and adaptability. When a business instills those pillars, possibilities are endless — or so it seems.

How today’s workforce operates

While most respondents said they’ve worked in teams, a number of them said it wasn’t just with people from their own department.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents said their workplaces try to frequently work as a team, with 69% claiming their companies push company-wide goal alignment as being a key to success.

Cross-functional alignment is when everyone that works in the company knows and understands the company’s initiative and all resources are behind them. Brown told Ladders it’s a collaborative effort that can be very beneficial to companies.

“Its impact on employee productivity and engagement is significant,” Brown said.

While more than 35% of survey respondents said alignment is the biggest challenge to successful business execution, nailing alignment has its benefits. If companies invest time and resources to enable collaboration, it can lead to a more productive, effective, and engaging workplace, especially when it’s cross-functional alignment plus it had more than half of respondents (56%) excited to learn about a new team project via cross-functional alignment.

There’s also another benefit to cross-functional alignment.

“Employees in teamwork-driven organizations — or companies that promote and enable cross-functional collaboration — are almost 1.5x more likely to recommend their company to friends and family,” said Brown. “This is huge for a company’s employer brand.”

The secret is…

The best way to get the most out of your team is by providing them with feedback.

The survey found that feedback is an important part of team communication because improved team communication can enable improvement, retention, and stronger performance, according to the survey.

One expert said there are several ways to deliver constructive feedback, but one of the most important ways is to be clear and concise. Managers should find a way to humanize the conversation, which means be open to the other person and realize something externally could be impacting their overall performance. Managers could also avoid extremes like being too blunt or delicate.

Some ways to deliver constructive feedback comes by making it clear and concise. Managers should also humanize the conversation, which means we should consider the other person’s feelings and if there’s something extern impacting their overall performance. Other ways are to avoid extremes like being too blunt or delicate.

“Something managers can do to inspire their teams is to help define the outcome and what success looks like,” Brown said. “They should identify the ideal end state but give the team autonomy on how they want to get there. This helps the team feel they have more ownership of their work.”

Seventy-four percent of respondents agreed that teams that perform well share constructive feedback and commit to improvement, while 72% said constructive feedback helps their team execute on its business strategy more effectively.

While feedback can benefit in the short-term, it also has a positive effect on the future.

Researchers said employees who believe their companies are able to deliver feedback and goal-setting are nearly three times more likely to work at a company two years in the future.

This article was originally published on The Ladders.

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