"Successful teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organisational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results." - Andrew Carnegie
Go back and think about that time when you were applying for a job. You were going through many job listings looking to find the one that would be a great match. Apart from specific skill set requirements, what were some of the other things companies were looking for?
Does the word ‘team player’ ring a bell? I bet it does. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find a job opportunity where they aren’t looking for someone who would be a great fit for their company culture. Someone who would get along well with others, and get the best out of themselves and from others – a team player. Someone who believed in the importance of teamwork. Because teamwork skills are closely related to communication skills and add significantly to the value you bring to an organisation.
Teamwork is two or more people working closely towards a single goal. It is about making sure that every person is valued, understands their responsibilities and contributes effectively to the team’s goal.
The benefits of creating teams that work extraordinarily well
- Tasks are delegated to the right people with the right skills. People do more of what they naturally do well. They become better at what they do.
- Roles are clearly defined. Working together means that every member is 100% clear on their role and responsibilities. This allows natural leaders to come forward.
- There is increased morale in the group. Working towards a single goal creates enthusiasm and initiative within a team. It creates better communication and understanding. People are given more responsibility and have a say in controlling their work situation. They feel encouraged and confident to say what they feel without adverse consequences. Team members come to trust and rely on each other.
- It provides one-on-one feedback and support. People get assistance in their areas of weakness. This support means that they get a chance to develop skills and invest in professional development.
- It leads to brainstorming. People often meet to discuss company issues and raise ideas. They become used to offering ideas and listening to each other’s ideas before coming up with the best and most time effective solution. They also learn from disagreements and past mistakes. In the end, the company benefits from a variety of ideas.
- Team members can swap schedules. When somebody gets sick or needs to take time off, someone else can take over without affecting the project in any way. This takes the pressure off people.
- Companies become more flexible, efficient and innovative when they bring different people to work together as a team. Team members help diagnose problems quicker. Systems are developed that allows them to finish tasks quickly and efficiently.
"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." - Michael Jordan
- It reduces turnover and recruitment costs. When companies pay attention to hiring the right people from the start, they reduce turnover and hiring costs.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But how do you form and manage teams that shine?
Tips to cultivate a great team culture in your organisation
Appoint a leader for the team. A team without a leader will rarely achieve what it’s set to do. Choose wisely.
Have concrete goals. Have goals that can be measured. Make sure everybody knows exactly what needs to be done.
Clearly define individual goals. Making sure every member of the team is clear about their role in the project from day one is crucial to its success. There is far less competitiveness in the organisation. People rise to the challenge because they know they are competing with themselves and nobody else.
Act like a mentor. Seasoned employees should work closely with the new ones to help them get familiar with company culture, policies and procedures - this helps them become comfortable in the work environment.
Everyone shares resources. Thinking about team success is a priority. Keep egos in check and do whatever needs to be done for the bigger goal. Everyone needs to be 100% committed to the team’s success. "Collaboration allows teachers to capture each other's fund of collective intelligence." - Mike Schmoker
Everyone is clear on what’s going on. They must meet regularly to view what’s happening and where things are at. Effective communication is vital.
Reward everyone. Don’t demotivate the rest of the team by rewarding the star players only. Everyone should win prizes for hitting their targets. By the same token, don’t blame one person if things go wrong.
Recognise success no matter where it came from. Ideas don’t have to originate from mid or senior level executives. Give credit where and when it’s due.
Lastly, remember good teamwork won’t happen overnight. Start by making teamwork a core company value. Develop team building exercises and programs. Encourage people to work in informal teams throughout the organisation and educate people on how other areas in the company work.
It will pay off; in the words of Henry Ford; "if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."
Are you the person to take charge of your team's success as a leader?