As One. It’s a short phrase. Only five letters. But those five letters are filled with meaning and inspiration. They make all the difference between a group of individuals and a unified team. Those five letters symbolize the culmination of individual action into collective power. They describe how individuals can collaborate to achieve extraordinary results—together.

-Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley, Authors As One: Individual Action, Collective Power

I know you have heard all the witty sayings concerning Teamwork. “There is no ‘I’ in a team.” Or “Teams always trump individual performance.” Or “Many hands make lighter work.” Somehow these breezy phrases lead us to believe that Teamwork is a natural and effortless way of producing work. Such thinking is off-the-mark. Teamwork does not generate work effortlessly or without a lot of corporate and individual development.

And it is not as though Teamwork is going away anytime soon. Companies are expecting more and more collaborative teams to shorten production timelines, improve innovation, and reduce bottom-line results so…

How do you measure up in Teamwork?

Loyalty, dedication and a willingness to make personal sacrifices are all fundamental elements to create robust team outcomes. Your Teamwork equation determines your ability to work with others in a group environment, your support of individual team members, and your commitment to producing innovative strategic shared results.

What is a “just right” Teamwork focus?

Today’s environment has you interacting and committed to a broader corporate community. In all likelihood, you will be working with employees you have never met, from different divisions, distant office locations, and with widely-ranging levels of responsibilities. This environment necessitates a very different approach—not passive, rather proactive. Such a seismic shift in attitude represents a feeling of identification with and sense of obligation to a common good that includes the self but that stretches beyond one’s own self-interest.[i]

What are some simple shifts you can make to engage your Teamwork?

  • “Whole-Listic” Communication: How we communicate turns out to be the most significant prognosticator of team success. Research from MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory reports that a dozen or so communications per working hour may turn out to be optimal. The team performance declines when it is less than that.
  • Interpersonal Awareness: The source for building great teams is creating great relationships. You can never overstate the priority for proactively developing human-to-human relationships. In fact, it is the make or break factor of every team. Research reveals that the quality of relationships affects a team’s willingness to share information.
    • Know Yourself: Hay Group research shows: the best collaborative leaders excel at interpersonal understanding, relationship building and commitment to the enterprise. It is hard to collaborate effectively with others when you do not have clarity regarding your strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself: What expectation does my company have regarding my participation on the team? What expertise do I bring to the team? What do I value in my interactions with others? What is my decision-making style? Is it possible that I may be doing something that either helps or hinders relationships? What is it? Once you have identified what you bring to the table—SPEAK UP! That’s why you are on the team.
    • Know Your Team Members: Constantly focus your attention on “what is there” rather than on “what is missing” in the other person. Look for the specific skills or talents that represent your team partner’s “added value” to both the company and the project’s success. This attitude has you noticing and communicating positive emotions to others at every opportunity. Measuring one another’s strengths is the foundation for powerful, innovative teams.
  • Diversity is Key to Success:  Diversity of gender, culture, expertise, education and problem-solving approaches opens the door for valuable ideas that would never come from one. It generates a team environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing their full potential. Research by Deborah Gruenfeld of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business has shown that teams with at least two separate and diverse points of view on issues make healthier and better decisions. As a matter of fact, research from McKinsey and Company established that gender diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform and companies with an ethnically diverse workforce are 35 percent more likely to outperform the national industry median.

Can you overdo Teamwork?

There is no question overused elements of Teamwork can be detrimental to your career and your company’s future.

  • Is Teamwork the Best Option? The first critical question to ask yourself: Is team the best method to resolve the issue? In today’s marketplace, leaders unconsciously abdicate their accountability and overuse the team formation. So, pause and ask: Does the authority and responsibility of this process, decision rest in my hands? If so, you are overdoing Teamwork. Stop, think it through and then make the decision on your own.
  •  Are you experiencing personality conflicts? If you are unwilling to confront team members attempting to dominate the meeting and others, then the Teamwork you produce will be less than stellar. If these conflicts are left unaddressed, it has an adverse impact on the results the team produces. It may even destroy the team.
  • Is everyone a ‘Yes’? Blind obedience does not support successful Teamwork. The team was created to generate diversified thought and healthy ideological dialogue. If everyone is in agreement and are similar in thought and expertise, you have generated fertile soil for “group think.” There is little chance of innovation and breakthrough ideas emerging. In fact, “group think” leads to underperformance.

Do you know your strengths?

I hope you carved out a bit of time on your schedule in 2015 to explore your Via Character Strengths. I know many of you have because I still am receiving emails thanking me for the valuable content this series has offered them.

Do you want to learn more? Let’s connect! It would be my pleasure to support you in beginning to live a life that is engaging, exciting and satisfying to YOU.  If you are interested in exploring your strengths, you can register for a 10-minute session with me. Nothing for sale, I am just seeing if I can help you. Click here to set up an appointment on my calendar.

Resource:

I could not decide between two YouTube videos on Teamwork, so I am sharing both. The first one is Erik Weihenmayer, a blind since birth; mountain climber, discussing how he and his team successfully reached Mt. Everest’s peak. The second one is an amusing cartoon approach that smartly addresses various aspects of Teamwork.

[i] Character Strengths and Virtues, A Handbook and Classification, Christopher Peterson, Martin E.P. Seligman, page 370.

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