“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
– Henry Ford
“None of us is as smart as all of us.”
– Ken Blanchard
Some of us think that we go to work to get a job done and that building a team is irrelevant. But these quotes from two business gurus certainly emphasize a different perspective: that teamwork is essential for getting the job done with efficiency, productivity, innovation and success.
In the words of Andrew Carnegie, teamwork is “the ability to work together toward a common vision…the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
We all know the sayings, “Two heads are better than one” and “There is strength in numbers.” They reflect the truth that teams have resources that individuals don’t have.
For a team to accomplish what one person cannot do alone, several conditions are necessary:
- Soliciting and listening to each person’s opinions and ideas with respect
- Valuing each person’s unique contribution
- Honest communication
- Willingness to put ego aside and work together towards a common goal
- A skilled group facilitator serving as team leader, or a team comprised of individuals who are willing and able to serve with rotating leadership roles and functions.
Teambuilding also requires that we make a T.R.U.C.E. We need to Trust, Respect, Understand, Collaborate and be Enthusiastic with one another. To build an effective team, we must make a truce from:
- Gossip: talking about people when they are not present
- Hierarchy: arranging group members in ranks of power and seniority, when members are categorized according to importance. Hierarchy means every individual does not count or get equal voice.
- Communication barriers: not allowing us to speak freely about the problems we see. Sometimes these barriers are personal and internal, such as a lack of assertiveness or fear of going out on a limb, of being laughed at. Sometimes the barriers are systemic and external: a boss who doesn’t ask, or an organizational culture that is controlling or views the outspoken person as a threat. When barriers are removed, teams can solve problems creatively with input from all.
- Sabotaging: undermining another’s efforts, not keeping an open mind, not being willing to change
- “Yes-butting:” “That’s a good idea but…” “I understand what you want but…” By shifting our attitude to “Yes, and….” remarkable openings for collaboration become possible. Think in terms of “That’s a good idea and … I wonder how we can pull it off.” “I understand what you want and… I would like some additional guidance.”
Team building requires shared vision, values and goals. In the words of Stephen Covey, “Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.”
Here’s a bit of final inspiration to take back with you into your workplace:
It is amazing how much people get done if they do not worry about who gets the credit.
– Swahili proverb
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