Sales Intelligence AI for sales insights and conversation intelligence AI-powered

How to foster effective teamwork: Lessons from pop culture

Is effective teamwork the missing piece of the puzzle at your company?


Facebook Twitter Linkedin Copy link post URL copied
10 min read

Pop quiz: which fictional office team most resembles your own?

Maybe you have a Parks and Rec dynamic where strong personalities regularly butt heads but always come together in the end thanks to your resident Leslie Knope.

Effective teamwork requires strong communication and collaboration

Or maybe your team has more of a Mad Men vibe, with coworkers spitballing bold ideas after some fierce back-and-forth.

You might even identify with the bickering, cutthroat kingdoms in Game of Thrones.

Well, we hope not. But the point is, entertainment often mirrors real life. Just as there are never-ending TV metaphors, there are countless approaches to teamwork. 

The question is, what does effective teamwork really look like? 

Because here’s the thing: clear and efficient workplace communication may not be as common as you hope. And collaboration may not be as seamless as you think.

Even with the best of intentions, you might not quite have the right tools and processes to facilitate excellent teamwork.

Let’s change that.

In this guide, we’ll break it down by exploring: 

🔑 Spoiler alert: a powerful communication tool is one key to better teamwork. Grab the free checklist to help you choose the right one for your business.

👀   Get this free checklist to pick the right communication tool for your business.


What is effective teamwork?

Effective teamwork in the workplace is when employees come together to reach a common goal, delegating and sharing responsibilities to support each other.

Effective teams bring out the best in individual workers as they’re confident that they’re supported in trying to achieve their tasks. And that’s far from the only benefit of truly effective teamwork.

What are the benefits of effective teamwork?

Why is effective teamwork important? If there’s anything we took away from Ted Lasso, it’s that there’s no “I” in “team” (we’re looking at you, Jamie). 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a team of soccer players, software developers, healthcare practitioners, or sales people. Working together will always deliver the best results.

How? Efficient teamwork:

  • Encourages knowledge sharing
  • Boosts productivity
  • Fosters employee growth
  • Drives innovation and creativity
  • Enables better problem-solving
  • Makes it easier to achieve goals
  • Creates a supportive and trusting environment
  • Develops stronger relationships between colleagues
  • Increases employee satisfaction, engagement, and motivation
  • Reduces stress and burnout

Need we say more?

What are the characteristics of effective teamwork?

Before we dig into how to achieve a stronger sense of trust among your employees, let’s talk about the traits and qualities of effective teams: 

1. They’re productive

No surprises here. When your workers are meeting their quotas and deadlines on a regular basis without fail, you know that your team has found their rhythm.

2. They’re actually happy at work

Effective team collaboration and higher morale go hand in hand. In fact, feeling a strong sense of belonging is the second leading reason people say they would stay with their current company.. In short, strong teamwork results in loyalty.

3. They focus on individual strengths

A team is only as effective as the sum of its parts. Teams that work well together know how to delegate tasks to individuals based on what they do best in order to collaborate and shine individually.

4. They know how to communicate

Honesty and openness are the foundations on which teams are built. Rather than second-guess next steps and who should be on top of a task, effective teams aren’t afraid to ask questions and provide (and take) constructive criticism.

5. They respect their coworkers

Infighting and passive-aggressiveness are signs of a toxic team. On the flip side, effective teams get along and come to agreements—even in the face of tension.

💡 More on teamwork: 

This is a part of a series that’s all about teamwork. Interested in diving deeper? Keep reading here:

How to build an effective team in 7 steps

Promoting teamwork in the workplace isn’t easy—and it doesn’t happen by accident.

Don’t panic if your team isn’t a well-oiled machine. Assess what they’re already doing right, then look at the following tips to empower them to work better together: 

1. Set goals for every project

Setting teamwork objectives is the starting point for getting anything done as a group. When the goals of your team’s task are clearly defined, it’s easier to rally around the task at hand.

It’s just like in Russian Doll. Each episode, the main characters wake up on the same day and are tasked with achieving a specific goal to bring themselves closer to solve the mystery of their situation. 

If a sales team is tasked with reaching a company-wide target, your team understands their individual responsibility in meeting their portion of that goal.

When it comes to goal-setting, the SMART framework is all the rage among teams. By setting goals that are specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive, achieving objectives won’t seem so daunting.

2. Make sure roles, responsibilities, and expectations are crystal clear

Effective teamwork is all about knowing what you—and everyone else on your team—need to do. 

Just like “the party” in Stranger Things, each person plays a unique role that ultimately makes your team complete:

A screenshot from Stranger Things where Mike Wheeler explains team roles

This is especially important because certain projects (like boosting your customer retention rate or running an email marketing campaign) need your team to work together to avoid stepping on each other’s toes.

Remember what we said earlier about playing to the strengths of your team? When responsibilities are delegated, everyone should feel comfortable with their roles and respective workloads. 

Nobody wants to feel like they’re stuck with the lion’s share of the work. If things aren’t clear in the beginning, that’s okay—as long as people feel comfortable communicating how they feel about their role in a task if there’s really a problem.

3. Don’t be afraid to appoint a leader

Reality check: good teamwork in a workplace often isn’t totally democratic or “equal.”

But it still works as long as you have a leader who can delegate and mediate on behalf of people. “People and communication skills” are still one of the most important characteristics of a successful business leader.

Think about our TV examples earlier. Sometimes you need a Leslie Knope, Don Draper, or Jon Snow to take the reins and get your team on track:

A Game of Thrones GIF showing John Snow jokingly steal a friend’s sword

4. Respect your team’s time

If you feel like most meetings are a total waste of time, you probably aren’t alone. We’re guessing that the scene from The Office with everyone making up games to pass the time during meetings probably came from some real-life inspiration:

Remember that meetings should focus on empowering teams to tackle projects, not bore them to death.

Once a project is in progress, you’ll probably need to decide how you’re going to keep in touch beyond traditional meetings. 

To keep time-wasting to a minimum, consider having virtual meetings or quick stand-ups to avoid long, drawn-out snooze-fests. There’s no need to drag something out an hour that can be accomplished in five minutes. Virtual meetings allow for speedy setup while the ability to have a quick chat eliminates the need for some meetings entirely.

Virtual meetings are also convenient for teams with remote workers or employees in different countries. Through screen sharing and instant messaging, meetings can be both productive and personal—regardless of where you are. RingCentral’s tools let teams chat with each other, start video conference calls, and even share their screens:

Screen sharing encourages teamwork in virtual meetings

5. Encourage your workers to be open and transparent

Conventional wisdom tells us that employees fear confrontation. But nobody should be afraid to speak up when there’s a problem or disagreement. Frequent check-ins and status updates encourage openness while nipping bigger problems in the bud.

Like the “friends don’t lie” credo in Stranger Things, teams should encourage each other to be open and honest:

A GIF from Stranger Things showing Eleven saying “Friends don’t lie.”

6. Get to know each other beyond the office

Team-building exercises. Happy hours. Office parties.

Hey, what about a game of Dungeons and Dragons à la Community?

Team games help build a sense of camaraderie in the workplace.

These may seem like fluff, but they’re actually vital for building an effective team. 

Even virtual activities or sharing memes in a chat channel can do the trick. These are particularly important for distributed teams and workers who can’t always be present face-to-face.

Empathy contributes to a collaborative culture, which is all the more reason for you to get to know your team beyond your office walls. You don’t need to be BFFs with everyone, but you should try to at least get along on a personal level.

Morning meeting celebration

Celebrating their morning meeting with some confetti, a team at KnownBe4 is a shining example of how workplaces can create camaraderie through collaboration.

7. Empower your team with tools and technology

With the right tools, your team can get more done together than if they just siloed themselves off. The key is understanding which tools make sense and whether or not you’re making the most of them right now.

And that leads us to our next section.

Remote Readiness CTA

What tools can help your team become more effective?

Here’s a snapshot of what successful teamwork looks like, with the help of third-party tools. Although these tools aren’t the be-all, end-all of what you can use, these are some of the most popular tools for collaboration and communication for businesses.

Communications platforms

As we mentioned earlier, consistent and frequent communication is essential to working as a team. Tools like the  RingCentral app can be a convenient, all-in-one solution for teams that want to talk asynchronously, meaning you don’t have to book meetings and get everyone in one place at one time. You can just send each other instant messages and have an extended back-and-forth whenever you’re free.

Whether you need to check in with someone on a deadline, have a quick video chat, or share a file, RingCentral lets you do all three:

The useful thing about having a tool like this is that it can save you serious time and avoid tedious face-to-face meetings. Not only that, it gives you a way to document your communications, which adds yet another layer of transparency and accountability to your team’s work:

Virtual platforms help document team communications in one place.

🕹️ Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral works by booking a product tour:

Project management tools

Project management tools like Trello, Asana, and Jira all serve as platforms where teams can drag-and-drop their team-related tasks—all in an easy-to-understand visual schedule.

The beauty of these tools is that anyone can see the status of a task at any given time. In other words, employees are held accountable for making progress and keeping each other in the loop on each card. Here’s a project management template from Trello for reference:

A screenshot of Trello’s project management software dashboard

Shared drives and collaborative documents

Free Google Workspace tools, such as Google Docs and Google Drive, are perfect for supplementing your existing communication tools. 

Especially with more teams supporting remote workers, the need to sync documents and share files is critical. From presentations to spreadsheets, Google Workspace allows for seamless sharing minus any needless back-and-forth.

For example, multiple people can collaborate on a contract in Google Docs or make changes to a Google Sheet in real time without stepping on each others’ toes.


Crucial for sales and marketing team members, a CRM (customer relationship management) system enables teams to collaborate as they close deals. You can keep notes on your leads and prospects and document touchpoints such as phone calls, emails, and other events.

Hubspot’s free CRM

Besides using productivity systems, these are the types of tools that can make you more efficient and collaborative. If your team is not currently on board with these tools, we urge you to explore the free and trial options of all of the above.

What are some real-life examples of effective teamwork?

To wrap things up, let’s look at some examples of effective teamwork strategies in action.

Encouraging your team to manage their own schedule

Effective teams are efficient teams. As highlighted by Trello, here’s a snapshot of what managing a team looks like when employees collaborate effectively. Using a Trello board, teams can pull up meeting templates, document meeting minutes, and share useful files brought up during a get-together.

A screenshot showing an example of a Trello board

Conducting a daily stand-up meeting

Again, meetings don’t have to be drawn-out affairs. To supplement your current face-to-face or online meetings, you can run daily stand-ups that are quick, time-efficient, and helpful for making sure that everyone is on task.

Engaging in team-building activities

Team building is key to building personal relationships among your workers. Those big marketing objectives will be a lot more manageable if you know that your teammates have your back. 

To build that kind of trust, you need a little more than the average day-to-day office activity. Events both big and small can help foster a sense of friendship among your coworkers. 

For example, something as simple as an escape room or outdoor excursion can bring your team closer together.

Team building activities like escape room or outdoor excursion can bring teams closer together Welcoming your new hires with better onboarding

First impressions matter. How you onboard employees ultimately sets the tone for how they will fit in with your team long-term.

An in-depth, personalized onboarding process can produce long-term returns in terms of employee engagement.

Cake HR's onboarding checklist

What does effective teamwork look like for your company?

Ask yourself: how would you promote teamwork in your workplace if you had to start right now?

Because doing so is crucial for both your business’s productivity and employees’ happiness. 

Remember that there’s no “right” answer for how to encourage teamwork.Your team is unique to your company, after all. Focus on long-term improvements and changes you can make to bring your team closer together.

Originally published Jun 16, 2024, updated Jul 02, 2024

Up next

Free software for small business plays a crucial role in helping SMB owners keep costs down.

Small business

The best free business software for small and medium-size businesses in 2024

Running an SMB (small-to-medium-size business) is as challenging as it is rewarding, and one of the biggest challenges for smaller businesses is keeping an eye on how much it costs to run your SMB.  With subscription software especially, the expenses can add up quickly. A $10 or $20 monthly fee may not look like much, ...


Facebook Twitter Linkedin Copy link post URL copied

Related content