“Almost nobody ever achieved anything worthwhile without help.” — Richard Branson

To be successful in business you need teamwork. As a strong leader (and crazy entrepreneur), Richard Branson not only recognizes the importance of teamwork, but believes it is the fundamental driver of success at Virgin. Even fictional character Leslie Knope, in the series finale of Parks and Recreation, famously said, "No one achieves anything alone". She deeply believed that people do their best work when they come together as a team to accomplish a common goal. They’re not alone.

Employee collaboration fosters positive attitudes among employees, leads to increased productivity, and better business performance. Effective teamwork is essential for running a successful organization in that employees rely on each other to achieve common goals. We’ve put together a list of tips to help you boost your team’s productivity and inspire effective teamwork.

Be a leader

Building a culture of teamwork starts at the top. Channel your inner Leslie Knope—be the leader your team needs and lead by example. This means encouraging communication and collaboration among team members—yourself included. If you work in a silo, you should expect your employees to do the same. As their manager, set the tone and your employees will follow suit.

PRO TIP: To improve employee relationships and promote teamwork, resolve interpersonal issues when they arise. Be sure not to let disagreements or hurt feelings fester. Encourage communication by bringing things out into the open and resolving issues as soon as possible.

Set goals

Establish goals for your team. Make sure your employees have a clear understanding of the goals and the role they each play in achieving them. Set objectives that are specific, measurable, and have a completion date so your team is responsible to an outcome, not just a set of tasks. If you provide them with the guidance and support they need, they will deliver on their commitment. Empower team members to take ownership of their work and ensure they’re accountable for getting their work done—not only to you—but to the rest of the team.

PRO TIP: Create accountability for your employees by aligning your team’s goals with company goals. This will allow them to have a better understanding of the big picture and to make more valuable contributions. Working together on strategic initiatives contributes to a shared feeling of success and improves a team’s ability to work together.

Foster a collaborative environment

Your team requires both an open company culture as well as a physical space that encourages collaboration and creativity. These are the elements of an environment that fosters discussion, idea-sharing and brainstorming among team members. Remind your employees that there are no stupid ideas. Establish trust and make sure they feel comfortable sharing ideas without judgment. In other words, provide the space to brainstorm in a way that embraces your team's diversity, encourages teamwork and is open and non-judgmental.

PRO TIP: If your current office situation isn’t cutting it and you’re on the hunt for a better location that’s more conducive to a productive brainstorming session, why not consider meeting up at a cottage in the country, a café, or a Breather workspace?

Rethink meetings

Having regular meetings with your employees is a crucial and necessary part of managing a successful team. That being said, they can also be a time-suck and a drain on your team’s productivity, so be thoughtful before throwing another meeting into their calendars. Instead, schedule fewer and shorter but more effective team meetings. Don’t waste everyone’s time by showing up unprepared. Have a clearly defined purpose and set the agenda for each one. Also, plan bigger offsite brainstorming sessions, which are great for sharing information, soliciting ideas, and making decisions.

PRO TIP: Communicating and consistently meeting with your employees is important. If you’re managing a larger team, consider breaking out into smaller groups, and having regular one-on-ones. While you still want to have team meetings to create a sense of camaraderie, as a manager, you also want to have one-on-one time with your employees. To help prioritize their workload, reserve 15 minutes with each person to go over the work they’ve completed, what they're working on next, and any roadblocks. It will also result in a greater sense of belonging and feeling of support.

Reward good teamwork

Look for ways to acknowledge spirited teamwork on a regular basis. Reward your team for good teamwork by planning non-work related activities. These kinds of events are also great for helping build the team relationship outside the office. They help establish trust and make employees feel like they’re truly part of the team—or the family.

PRO TIP: Take your team out for ice cream on a hot day, for a beer on a Friday evening after a long week, or out for dinner after a successful quarter. Encourage further teamwork by providing another incentive: let your employees choose the location of the next get together.

Inspire great teamwork by setting the tone for your team—set goals, communicate and meet regularly. Provide employees with a work environment where they feel comfortable collaborating and sharing ideas. Lastly, don’t forget to grab a beer with them every now and then, and you’ve got all the elements needed for effective teamwork.

BONUS PRO TIP: Make sure you learn everyone's names! You don’t want to end up with a ‘Garry-Jerry-Larry Gergich-Gengurch’ situation on your hands.

Looking to defeat distraction as a team? Check out No One Works Alone, a free guide from Breather and NOBL that explores the science behind getting more done—together.

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