So anyone working in the business community has been put on a team in one way or another. Some people love working in a team environment, while others feel they excel on their own. For those who loathe teamwork, why do leaders continue to push the team concept onto them?
Because it works.
Teams have increased in importance in recent years, to all phases of organizational life. Don’t just take our word for it, the legendary Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Michael Jordan may have some issues with his Charlotte Bobcats but he’s right on the money with that statement.
There’s a ton of jargon thrown around the business community and it may seem like the concept of teamwork is just another empty business term. But in reality, teamwork is important because everyone has strengths and weaknesses; there is no ‘flawless’ employee. In a team environment, the workers bring a variety of skill sets and when they come together to collaborate and work as a cohesive unit, they can produce extraordinary results.
Well, that’s a perfect world. Unfortunately, the work environment is far from perfect and teams don’t just fit and work together naturally. Like many other aspects of an organization’s culture, it begins with the manager.
Do you facilitate a team atmosphere where all members feel comfortable offering ideas? If the answer is no, you may not be adequately encouraging cooperation, teamwork, and commitment to the work group.
Unless your work group is comprised of highly individualized, highly technical sole contributors whose efforts are not enhanced by teaming and cooperating with others, you probably need to work on increasing your own appreciation for the positive impact that teamwork and cooperation can have on work efforts.
Once you establish a mutual sense of purpose and set realistic goals that will truly make a difference, you may get even the most fiercely independent worker to embrace the team concept. But you have to first plant the seeds to grow your team.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Allow staff meetings to be team-building sessions, with open brainstorming and problem solving.
- Encourage the team to take responsibility for its performance. If you take responsibility, the team delegates both initiative and risk-taking upward to you. You lose their creative input, initiative and problem solving, and ultimately, their greater involvement.
- Ask your team members for their input and their different approaches to reach a goal that may have been set by someone outside the team. Use a variety of ways to reach consensus: discussion/persuasion, majority rule, or predicted outcomes and consequences of recommended actions.
- If you want to encourage teamwork, recognize the team for its successes. Make it clear that active involvement is a valued and a necessary component for a functioning team. Publicly reward whatever team player activities are observed.
- Role model respect for individual and cultural differences, and insist that all team members show the same respect for each other. Challenge formal and informal organizational policies, practices, and expectations that negatively impact some groups.
Teamwork will always be important to businesses. Bottom line. You just have to put in the time and effort to make your team play nice together.