Fostering teamwork is a top priority for many leaders, according to Suzanne Willis Zoglio, Ph.D., the author of Teams At Work: 7 Keys to Success, The Participative Leader. There are obvious benefits: increased productivity, improved customer service, more flexible systems and employee empowerment.
A team is a group of people working towards a common goal. Generally, the objectives that a team sets out to accomplish can’t be effectively achieved by individuals. Think of it this way: TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More.
Within a business, every employee serves as a crucial member of the company’s team. No matter where you are on the corporate ladder, you add intrinsic value to your organization through your strengths, talents, gifts and other assets.
Some companies are taking a more impersonal approach to evaluating the assets of prospective and current employees. They employ high-tech data mining programs or personality tests to “crunch” information about employees’ skills, qualifications, experiences, workload and performance to assess their integrity, loyalty and satisfaction. Or, job candidates are being analyzed to predict their potential fit within the company’s culture. This non-personalized approach to evaluation provides a quick, automated way to size up individuals. But it leaves less room for human instinct, which can be an important barometer of an employees true value.
Realizing Your Own Strengths, Talents and Gifts
Despite what any data mining software may construe, your contributions as an employee form an integral link in the chain of your company’s success. And it’s important to understand the true value that you lend to your corporate team. Whether you’re part of a companywide or smaller work group, you should understand your role and responsibilities as a valued member. Picture yourself as a single, unique Lego building block that can help form a wonderful creation when connected to other pieces. But you have to be willing to add your block to the pile, so others can build on it to produce a masterpiece.
It works the same way with our skills and talents. All of us have different abilities and unique perspectives that can be instrumental in solving complex problems. For example, if you’re an excellent organizer and coordinator, you should be open to using these skills to produce a smooth work flow within your department or project work group.
At the same time, you should acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of other members of your team. Rather than hinder, try to help teammates employ their skills to the fullest. No one person knows and can do everything. Think of these quotes relating to teamwork:
- “Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford
- “We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” Benjamin Franklin
- “If I could solve all the problems myself, I would.” Thomas Edison, when asked why he had a team of twenty-one assistants
- “The strength of the team is each individual member…the strength of each member is the team.” Coach Phil Jackson – Chicago Bulls
- “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Ken Blanchard
How To Help Build A Winning Team
So how do you help build an effective team that contributes to a positive, successful work environment? Here are four tips to help you:
- Contribute. Everyone is responsible for the success of their team. At group meetings, for example, be an active participant who contributes valuable content. If you’re not familiar with the discussion topic, silently observe the team’s process and find ways to facilitate its progress.
- Communicate. Good communication is essential to success in the workplace. We’ve all had experiences of hearing the wrong message, assuming incorrectly, misinterpreting others’ behaviors and feeling offended. That’s why it’s important to use clear communication, as well as active listening skills with fellow team members. Don’t just seek to be understood, but also seek to understand.
- Be Committed. Commitment equals buy-in. A good work team needs to agree on and believe in its basic purpose – its mission or reason for existing. Work teams that have clarity of purpose can easily visualize their connection to organizational success. With strong commitment to move toward the same goal, the team creates a synergy – a force that is greater than the combined energy of its individual members.
- Be Supportive. Good work teams are like close-knit families. They require acceptance, nurturing, patience and support. They won’t always agree and often need to compromise their personal preferences to achieve the best results. Effective work teams need continued support and feedback to stay focused and to feel good about what they are doing. For a team to reach its full potential, members must be able to share their thoughts and ideas, and to see that these are valued and heard.
Copyright 2004, Kate Smalley
Freelance Administrative and Transcription Services
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