With the advancement of job structures and the global shift in work cultures, does teamwork still make the dream work? Are leaders leaning more towards collaborative efforts or are ‘one-man’ tasks taking over as the preferred working style?
I have personally had a taste of both worlds; collaborating with both young and old during event planning meetings, training sessions or simply brainstorming sittings and assigning tasks to be worked on solely by a single person. Of course, there have been more than a few challenges I have experienced working with teams for many reasons. However, there have been extraordinary outcomes as well.
So, my question today is, “does teamwork really make the dream work?” Whenever corporate leaders and business owners are asked about their performance, they more often than not credit their teams. Is it really that simple? What does it really take to get an aligned, supportive and action-driven team? How can a leader utilize the value in his teams? Do leaders understand what it takes to drive a team?
From basic life encounters and events such as sports, teamwork has clearly proven to be effective in getting results. To bring some practicality to this discussion, let us imagine a team sport such as soccer. To win the match, every player must efficiently play his part to win the game. A striker is not expected to be a good defender, but his effort in his own right is considered enough support to the other players. The essence of working as a team is appreciated when each player is doing what they do for a common goal; winning the game.
The value of teamwork manifests in many forms. Although research has shown the desirability of having individuals with specialized backgrounds, bringing together a team creates an environment where multiple skillsets may be put to use, forming a gateway for existing knowledge to evolve.
Aside efficiency and effective use of skills, things get done faster. Indeed, “many hands make light work.” Sometimes, the frustration from working alone on a project can be overwhelming and the weight of the tasks assigned is underrated. Having a closely-knit team evenly shares the responsibility of productivity and encourages motivation among team members to meet deadlines.
Although leaders understand how crucial teamwork is, many struggle with aligning their members with positions that will propel them to success. By getting a good handle on the strengths and weaknesses of each employee, office managers can assign tasks, duties and responsibilities more effectively, while emphasizing the value of collaboration, mutual support and team cohesion. There may not be an “I” in team, but there is most certainly a “we” in well-balanced. Successful teamwork balances employees’ skills with the needs of the organization, resulting in a winning environment for the entire company. (Robert Half 2017)
So, are there more ways to maintain the excitement in your employees aside paying them well? How do you fan the burning desire for team collaboration? There is a certain level of empowerment each individual must feel to give off his best. One requirement for teams to work effectively is to develop an innovative and intrapreneurial culture, allowing them to pitch their ideas and suggest new processes to improve old ones. This is a brilliant way of harnessing collective intelligence from your teams (Inc.com).
As Aaron Marquis states in his article The Importance of Teamwork in Organizations, teamwork promotes conversation between employees regarding the task at hand, possibly preventing employees from working in opposite directions‖ (Marquis, 2016).
As leaders and managers of businesses, our understanding of investment has advanced in recent times. Investment is no longer limited to finances, but the concept has been extended to people. An insightful example from SMG puts it this way: Think about the best manager you ever had and some of the most compelling reasons this person made an impact on your life. Chances are good that what is coming to mind is this manager made an investment in you personally.
They understood your goals, interests, and development objectives, and perhaps provided some personal advice from time to time. It is also likely this manager did not do just one thing that made them so memorable and effective, but rather provided a series of small actions and conversations that demonstrated to you they were fully invested in helping you achieve and maximize your abilities (work or otherwise).
There is no perfect leadership type that helps to effectively harness the gold in teams. Today, leaders have so many resources available to educate themselves about leadership styles. There is no one fit all style for every situation. On the other hand, there are important pointers every leader must aspire to hone as a skill to really make teamwork, work. Aside from the more common tips on how to motivate teams, Sandler Training brings another interesting perspective to the table.
Often, we ignore struggling teammates and label them as weak links. What if we set up a meeting to discuss how to resolve their issues? A team member may not be aware of subpar performance or may face personal issues that indirectly cause work to suffer. This ties in perfectly with being fair and never playing favorites with employees. While you are only human and individual circumstances may change your views, try to maintain a fair and even reaction to each group member. In special cases, balance the needs of the group with individual workloads and schedules. If workloads are unfairly distributed, resentment builds, and your team members lose respect for your authority.
In my experience working with teams, I have adapted a few customized styles with working with people first of all, and then teams. Here are my 4 thoughts that leaders may consider when seeking to make the dream work. Here are 4 thoughts that leaders may consider when seeking to make the dream work:
- Punitive does not equate Productive
Human psychology leans heavily towards emotions. Whilst emotional intelligence is beginning to grow in the workplace, teams that are corrected with punitive measures usually react rather than responding, leading to many hours of lost productivity. Efforts to establish punitive or disciplinary processes to affect behavioral change within our organizations may make managers feel better, but rarely results in the development of an effective employment relationship, or an enlightened and successful workforce (OMNI Human Resource Management). However, teams that are driven using persuasion techniques are found to be highly productive and results-oriented. So, a focus on persuasion style of leadership can yield best results.
- Communicate to influence
Communication can make or break your team. The art of communicating is not merely limited to holding several formal meetings. Collaborative team members are comfortable communicating as and when they need to. It extends to asking questions to limit all forms of confusion, offering help and motivation to establish likability and addressing concerns to promote peace in the circle. Your communication must be geared towards building trust with your team which will make it easier for them to accept your influence. Influence is a two-way street that involves listening to the opinions of your team. To get your team members to believe in your ideas and adopt your working methods, you would need to develop the skill of including their ideas into your vision.
- Clarify the purpose of the Work
It is simpler for your team to learn how to get their job done but have you considered if they understand ‘why’ they need to get it done? Many people merely go through the day and get things done so they can tick the checkbox. Clarity in the purpose of the work will keep members enthusiastic and properly aligned with the process to get the job done. “Your Why provides you with clarity, meaning and direction. It is a filter through which you can make decisions every day” – Simon Sinek.
- Appreciate and Award
The act of showing gratitude yields results. Appreciating employees contributes to their happiness and satisfaction, encouraging them to put more effort into their work. Research shows that 83% of employees who worked for a company with a recognition program stated that they were content with their jobs. The good news is awards do not have to only be monetary. Other types of appreciation take the form of company or team-wide emails recognizing individuals/teams, in-person recognition and thanks, promotions and extra vacation day (Jostle Blog). Rewards could also come in the form of taking small breaks to encourage team bonding through informal conversations.
The journey to making the dream work requires more than excellent teamwork. Applying these 4 keys will grant you a great head start and grow your business relationships.
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Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on email@example.com and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.