"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships" (Michael Jordan)
Creating opportunities for co-operation between people who are working on a task to generate a willingness of that group to put differences aside and to work together using their individual skills and provide constructive feedback to achieve a common aim, that would be unachievable if they tried to act as an individual
Knowledge (Theories, Ideas & Concepts)
Through Professional/Personal Study Gained Through Experience
With finite time and energy, team working should be allowed to focus on searching for solutions, leveraging opportunities and celebrating openness & good tries, and not on ego, role positioning, attributing blame, searching for the guilty or working out what they should be doing
Team building needs to take into consideration the good times, the bad times and the ugly times. People need to manage complex lives and work needs to respect family time, and show advocacy, flexibility, support and empathy is difficult times and show how they care for staff. If you take care of employees first, customers will bask in this reflective respect
Effective collaboration needs leadership support (ideally modelling best collaborative behaviours), established and reinforced ground rules (ideally investing in signature relationship practices), understandable and realistic expectations with the goals clarified, organised processes and operations, and finally an environment that is built on trust (ideally creating a gifting culture and get to know each other to help leverage team strengths and cover off deficiencies)
Skills & Application of Knowledge in Real World Situations
Together with Responsibilities/Accountabilities
Teamwork involves working confidently within groups, contributing your own ideas effectively, taking a share of the responsibility, being assertive - rather than passive or aggressive, accepting and learning from constructive criticism and giving positive, constructive feedback to others. Employers need employees who play well with others—who can effectively work as part of a team. That means sometimes being a leader, sometimes being a good follower, monitoring the progress, meeting deadlines and working with others across the organisation to achieve a common goal. This is a day to day business skill I utilise all the time, together with the ability to create enthusiasm and initiative to make things happen and be supportive, informal and use humour when the circumstance dictates this.
Teamwork involves compromise, being comfortable with disagreements and see it as a useful method to get to a middle ground position that everyone can buy into. It involves having people who can coordinate and accept responsibility, generating clear and logical objectives that everyone can follow, and then making sure everyone clearly understands their roles and tasks, whilst delegating tasks to the people with the right skills or using people with different skills, and not being afraid of taking a positive attitude to and learning from setbacks and mistakes.
Understanding the ingredients that make up effective teams from assembling a balanced set of roles (Encourager; Compromiser; Leaders; Summariser/Clarifier; Ideas Person; Evaluator; Recorder), creating the right atmosphere (Locations; Rules; Approaches; Discipline; Rotations; SMEs; Swap-outs; Accountability), undertaking on-going evaluation (Observing; Participation; Spoken Expressions; Ideas Generated; Quality of Thoughts; Influence on Others; Open Mindedness; Facilitation of Discussion & Judgements). Every team is different so adapting approaches to the required outcome, environment, drivers and culture is critical.
Self Directed Working Team (SDWTs) practice active, autonomous self management demonstrating self-pride, ownership and commitment, however they need to be setup for success from the start. They can suffer from process confusion about roles (duplicated effort and lack of accountability) that then feeds into misunderstanding on decision making/conflict resolution. These issues can be reduced through the leadership taking a structured approach and clearly documenting the results. Leaders also need to be conscious about the choices they make of conflict response.
Other barriers to teamwork include poor communications, unclear goals, lack of management involvement and team members not keeping their ego in check. Effective teams embrace diversity (options, cultures, talents and personalities) and leaders must support collaborative working and quickly deal with issues as they arise.
Dr Bruce Tuckerman’s Original Theory (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing) has been modified to include Re-forming before Adjourning. Teams are not normally static entities, and coping with the new starters, leavers, temporary seconded or part time team members and experts is vital to the success of the project. The group should be reminded to welcome new members and help bring them up to speed, listen to each other, wrap each meeting up with meaningful and constructive comments, and ensure that everyone contributes and the group is a “learning team”. When team members are leaving the group, steps should be taken to ensure that critical knowledge is captured, recorded and understood by other members of the team. Writing down some handover notes without any explanation is not ideal, because when people come to read them they are often incomplete. It can be very useful to have group retrospectives, where the team sits down and goes through all the good and not so good issues, bouncing ideas and comments off each other. It can act as a defuse mechanism for a lot of internal team tensions.
Selected Achievements & Successes
Together with Any ‘So What’ Statements of Insights
Due to the sensitivity of the work undertaken on projects, all aspects of this section are very generic in nature to avoid citing either individual teams, people or organisations. Establishing one team from scratch using external contractors (as there were no internal resources available) was a real challenge, because of the need to bring them up to speed in terms of the work that needed to be done, the environment in which it needed to done within and the culture of the organisation that had certain ‘unwritten rules’ on how things should be done. The integration of these individuals into the rest of the organisation was a challenge.
Developing team members on a newly created team who were assigned a role on top of their business as usual activities was another challenge. A truly collaborative approach was taken and the role of team lead was rotated so everyone had an opportunity to bring something new to the meeting. The approach was so successful in terms of the delivery of the output and in terms of the development of individuals (people used to be really upset if they couldn’t attend for any reason, because they enjoyed the experience so much). Bringing new experiences to teams can be a way of getting them to learn new skills and develop far greater engagement and motivation.
Working collaboratively with external companies can be a real challenge because of all aspects of costs, work-share, joint developments, IPR, commercial issues and access to key technical resources. A lot of these issues can be solved by having a detailed agreement signed up front, so rather than stumble across these issues, each party recognises what they have signed up at the start of the programme. Regular reviews ensure that all parties are happy to continue or want to dissolve the partnership at any of the breakpoints in the agreement. Issues can be raised at any time, and common sense and pragmatism can solve many of them before they escalate into show-stopping major issues. Maintaining the personal relationships as well as briefing all the key stakeholders on progress is a vital part of the equation. When the partnership closes, a report is generated summarising the achievements and potentially next steps that could be taken (either individually or through another collective partnership). It helps if each of the partners brings something different to the table and that there is no conflict of interest, common user/customer community that both parties are playing within, and there are no secret agendas being played out either. Honesty, trust and mutual respective count for a lot in this arena, as I have found out that it is often only through a series of engagements does real value get generated. I have created a significant number of partnership/collaborations of this type, that have generated whole new products and business opportunities.