By Laurie Guest
If you are a member of a team, working with your team is essential. Team building is one of the most frequently requested topics in my work with organizations. I always ask the client to first reflect on what teamwork means in his or her environment.
Does it mean that the staff get along and are mostly tension free? Does it mean everyone knows his or her position and how it fits into the big picture? What kind of work environment are you looking to create? Knowing where you currently stand and where you aspire to be is the critical first step.
Start the conversation with your team’s definition of teamwork. Teamwork means two or more people committed to working together to achieve a common goal. That sounds like a simple definition, but when we break it down a bit, it’s obvious that it’s harder than it seems.
First: a team consists of two or more people. I always say wherever two or more are gathered, there’s trouble. Think about it. Different personality styles and different ways of communicating. What about the listening issue? I may think I’m being very clear with my words, but you hear something totally different.
I think we can all agree that getting along with other people can be tough sometimes. The solution is to be understanding, forgiving, and nonjudgmental with your co-workers. Though I wasn’t very good at this in the early years of my career, I learned to be more tolerant by not making everything about me. Just because a co-worker doesn’t offer an enthusiastic “good morning” with a smile, doesn’t mean they’re mad at me. Odds are good it has nothing to do with me.
Next: a team commits to working together. When I’m invited to an organization to help with teamwork issues, the first thing I do is try to figure out what things all parties agree about. For example, do we all agree that we want to be known as the premier place to buy our product? Do we agree that we can provide better service if we work together for a seamless delivery and stop airing our dirty laundry to customers? Yes? Okay, then what do we have to do to make these answers a reality? If we cannot agree to commit our efforts for the good of the guest, the company, or our co-workers, then cohesive teamwork is impossible to achieve. We will have to start at the foundation and work up to strength.
Finally: a team strives to achieve a common goal. This is where we can dive in and make progress when we’re trying to improve comradery. Do we have attainable goals as an organization? Are the goals written down and reviewed on a regular basis? Does everyone understand his or her role in helping us achieve these goals? Is there a reward for all of us in achieving the goal? In other words, what’s my incentive?
If you can’t answer yes to all these questions, then examining goal setting and incentives will be an important first step in getting everyone to work on the same page.
A team consisting of two or more people working together to achieve a common goal is essential in a successful organization.
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