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.