There is a quote from the field of sports: “Individuals win awards, but great teams win championships.” This statement is laced with loads of wisdom that organizations that plan to exponentially increase their productivity should focus on: There’s value in harnessing the possibilities hidden in teamwork.
Contrary to the belief that productivity will be boosted once a group of individuals are hired to work in the same units or departments, without an intentional effort to make these skilled individuals work in collaboration as a team, their collective efforts will not produce as many results if the “secret sauce” that makes teams work together is missing.
Before we go deeper into learning about harnessing teamwork, let’s take a look at the definition of teamwork to understand some key elements that must be in place.
What is teamwork?
Simply put, teamwork is the coming together of a group of people to achieve a goal or a task in the most efficient way within a specific time frame.
A team is made of individuals who have differences in strengths, but when there are specific elements in place, they are able to blend their individual strengths to create leverage that allows for one person’s strength to cover up for another person’s weaknesses, thereby giving the group a collective advantage over an individual performer who may even be very skillful or talented.
Dave Ramsey tells the story of an experiment that was carried out with horses that highlights some key elements of teamwork. A single mature horse could pull 8,000 pounds of load, while the combination of two horses, rather than producing 16,000 pounds, could produce up to 24,000 pounds. And through the harnessing of their strengths by making them stay together and also by training them together, they were able to do 32,000 pounds of work in a day.
What does teamwork require?
Below are some of the elements that must be in place in order to harness teamwork:
Effective communication is what makes teamwork flow like a well-oiled machine. A team that doesn’t communicate effectively will stagnate its own productivity. Team members must learn how to give feedback to one another as efficiently and as quickly as possible to allow operations to run smoothly.
Teamwork requires a commitment to a shared goal. There is a saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go with others.” Blending with other people may take some time to achieve, but the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart: for teams to work cohesively, everyone must be committed from their hearts to the goal until it’s achieved.
Being open and vulnerable with who you are in a team is better than pretending to be who you’re not. When team members don’t know one another’s weaknesses, the theory of a team being as strong as its weakest link then holds. But through a proper accountability system, the power of synergy is best optimized, and productivity rises.
Communication may be the oil that makes teams function, but mutual respect is the glue that binds everyone working as a team to one another. When this component is in place, people are often able to give even more than their best.
Teamwork will not work when the members of the group do not develop and master the art of delegation. Leaders within the teams who initiate this approach of getting things done through others must be skillful at this art because people don’t usually do what you expect but what you inspect. So delegation is not adjudication or abandoning work on another team member. I believe it is always better to allow 10 members to do work than one person to do the work.
As I round off this article, it is important to mention that according to psychologist Bruce Tuckman, there are four stages in team development, which are forming, storming, norming and performing.
Organizations that desire to create greater productivity ratios will have to learn the art and act of harnessing teamwork by leveraging the individual competencies within each person to create a collective productivity ratio in the group that will be high and sustained.