HR have long recognised the value of effective team work but identifying the elements that knit disparate people together to form an effective unit has often proved elusive.

A landmark study by Partners in Leadership suggests that the key issue is accountability, but that the business world is in the midst of an accountability crisis, which is hampering its ability to raise performance and drive through change.

The multi-country Workplace Accountability Study survey of over 40,000 employees found that people typically regard accountability as something which is strictly consequential: 80% said it’s a factor that only comes into play when things go wrong, rather that something they focus on pro-actively in order to deliver results. And an alarming 85% of respondents said they weren’t even sure what their organisations were trying to achieve.

So, how can you put accountability – and effective teams – at the heart of your business? Managers, of course, have a key role to play in creating a vision for the team, setting clear goals and making sure there is no ambiguity around expectations.  However, technology can play a role too, breaking down barriers and providing the framework that helps companies build and sustain more effective and accountable teams.

Help people get connected

The latest HR software systems can help employees feel more connected to the company and their peers. Organisation charts make it easy to identify reporting lines and to find the right people to speak to. Team calendars provide a handy overview of people’s availability, making it easy to schedule meetings or put together project timelines. Information about core policies and processes is easy to access.  HR systems also provide a central place where employees can access company news and updates – a particularly helpful feature in global organisations or companies where remote working means that ‘water cooler’ conversations (where everyone really finds out what’s going on) don’t regularly take place.

build teams

Encourage accountability

Performance management software keeps goals and objectives visible – and can be used to encourage regular conversations that are more future focused. The giving and receiving of feedback (the one thing guaranteed to help raise performance all round) is something people are typically uncomfortable with.  The Workplace Accountability Study found, for example, that 80% of participants either received only negative feedback when things went wrong or no feedback at all.

The technology can’t have the important conversations managers need to have with their teams, but it can certainly support a more streamlined and transparent approach.  Systems can nudge managers when appraisals are due, for example, and provide a central place where objectives, timelines and agreed training can be recorded, accessed by both parties and easily revisited when priorities change.

Avoid silos

With systems like Cezanne HR, it’s easy for managers to reach out beyond departmental boundaries and find the right people to contribute to their latest projects. The internal social platform makes it easy to put a call out for people with specific skills or expertise – or to invite central functions, such as IT or marketing, to get involved and give their view on new initiatives in the pipeline.

Making projects more visible across the business in this way avoids the danger of duplication and encourages a collaborative, joined-up approach. It’s also a great way to improve the diversity of teams, giving managers the ability to pull people from across the business into their teams on a regular or ad hoc basis and avoiding the common problems of ‘group think’ or leaders building teams in their own image.

Share resources

Effective teamwork is also supported by an up-to-date HR system. The HR portal and workspaces that come as an integral part of systems like Cezanne HR allow team members to share documents in a secure, central place. This makes it easy for people to give feedback on works-in-progress and ensures the latest, most up-to-date version of a documents or project plan is always available.

These workspaces can also help to drive innovation and creativity. Team members can see, for example, what their peers are working on and are able to add their own ideas or solutions into the mix, even if it’s not an area within their specific remit. It makes for a more collaborative, transparent way of working where everyone can see how they fit into the bigger picture and where they can best make a contribution.

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.