You have heard the term “teamwork” and the phrase “be a
team player,” but chances are you have never experienced
true teamwork. The reason? Many people don’t realize that
an authentic team is very different from a traditional work
group. And they also don’t realize that as a whole, teams
perform at a much higher level than work groups.

The traditional mold
Traditionally organizations have been set up using those
visual organization charts.  You know what they look like: one
box at the top, a few boxes a little further down the page,
then even more below that.  This model reserves all
decisions at pre-specified levels.  Although these levels may
be proper in some instances, the traditional model causes
growth in red tape and is translated among workers and
“distrust” by their supervisors.  The results in the workforce
are staggering.  According to numerous surveys less than a
quarter of today’s workers perform at their full potential, and
half of today’s employees work only hard enough to keep
their jobs. Most workers experience no sense of
satisfaction, accomplishment, or value.  At the same time,
employers are seeing that not only does the employee lose,
but so does the employer.

Rewards of true teamwork
In teamwork organizations high performance results occur
as employees take ownership of decisions, policies, and the
future of the organization. Productivity increases and in
many cases fewer workers are required to handle the
workload.  

Some think this would result in layoffs or a reduction of the
workforce, defeating the idea of teams having “ownership”
of the future of the company. The reality is that teamwork
actually results in company growth, making workforce
reduction unnecessary as the business grows.  

In those cases where the pre-team organization was too
expansive, one of two results will occur to get payroll dollars
in line with expectations.  One result could be the switch from
traditional to team orientation causing some workers to feel
threatened.  These workers tend not to embrace the team
concept and will leave the organization.  The other outcome
is that attrition of the larger than necessary workforce will
bring the team into line with the organization’s true needs.  
This second method can delay some of the results of the
team concept, but it instills job security across ranks and still
produces the same or better results as those received prior
to adopting the team concept.

Reaching true teamwork
To achieve real teamwork takes real teamwork.  It takes an
understanding of the function of being a team and of working
outside of a traditional organizational chart.  Most of all, it
takes the commitment of the entire organization.  All
employees at all levels must understand that teamwork is not
an experiment; rather it is a way of doing business.   If team
structures are implemented as an “experiment”, they are
likely to fail.  If team structures are deployed as a way of life,
the benefits are enormous.

Related resources:
More "How to" lists to learn from.
Resources to connect teams to a shared vision of success.
Max Impact
on LinkedIn.
Anecdotal Leadership, a Blog.
Contact Max for a complimentary consultation.
More business by the numbers here,
Teamwork:
3 fundamentals