Efficient Teamwork – 3 key factors

TEAMWORK. istock-illustration-21354467-teamwork-stepsTeamwork has been an essential component for human survival since the beginning of time. From coordinating hunting strategies -> to building roads -> to product development in the corporate world, when we work together as a focused team towards the same goal, we have increased the capacity for greater outcomes.

I often repeat the common saying ‘Two heads are better than one’ … that means being part of team and interacting with each other, to gain broader perspectives, create connections, and receive the support that we don’t have if we work by ourselves … in silos.

There are 3 key factors that need to be in place in order for efficient teamwork to occur:

1. Communication … the most essential factor in any human encounter, especially when it comes to teamwork. Of course the most common kind is verbal communication, but it is important to be aware of other forms of communication that exist, particularly the non-verbal communication. I believe this is THE most important communication. This is where listening for what’s not said comes into play … you know the saying: ‘You have two ears and one mouth’. From years of experience in observing and managing workplace behaviour,  I learned that verbal communication tells only 20% of the story …the rest comes from non-verbal communication … the unwritten, often unsaid ground rules – ‘how we do stuff around here’ … the physiology and team dynamics. By understanding this non-verbal communication you gain more about what your team mates are trying to tell you, and why they think and act as they do.

2. Common Goal … having been in various leadership positions, I’ve found that focusing the team towards a common goal is essential in achieve the group’s objective. All too often I observed fractured teams, wandering around in different directions with inconsistent processes; generally the result of either lack in belief or lack of clarity around a common objective. This MUST be addressed by the leader and management team, and links to the importance of having a clear mission statement … not just  written into their business plan, but clearly espoused as the ‘light on the hill’ they are all moving towards. This same concept can also be applied to any team oriented activity, whether big or small … a common goal needs to be accepted by all members within the group … the best way to do this is to involve them in the process of creating it … gaining a greater sense of ownership and empowerment. Without a common goal objective, teams lose focus and become ineffective.

3. Support … is what teamwork is all about. This is where people stop being individuals and become a part of an entity built through genuine understanding, acceptance, connectedness and trust. While some consultants encourage organisations to build teams of like-minded people, I believe that diversity within a team creates more ideas and innovation around the ‘how’ we continually improve towards achieving the common goal.   The importance here is having a supportive and inclusive leader who is aware of team dynamics, and develops a bond that helps each person in the group excel within their respective roles. Successful teams work together with a diversity of skills and expertise to help each other accomplish the task at hand.

A great example of support and teamwork comes from ants. Have you ever watched how the ants work together transferring an entire colony of 1 million ants from one location to another in one single night? It’s fascinating … every single ant communicates with one another, they are all on the same page, and support one another to the point that they make bridges out of one another to tackle hurdles. Now that is teamwork at its best!

What is your best example of team work? Do you need help to get this right in your organisation?

It starts with building the leadership capability in your organisation and that’s where we at Workforce VITALITY come in. We can help you build the right mix in your teams, assess skill levels and team dynamics, identify the gaps and work with you to develop your people … to create a vibrant and humming workplace culture that is a great place to work … attracting and retaining the right people who work well together towards the same goals …. and become an employer of choice.

Ask about our SEIP assessment report and unpack package - Social+ Emotional Intelligence development assists with awareness of self and self-management, and using that to manage and build our relationships with others is a great place to start effective team building.

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