One of the basics truths about teamwork is that life is not about me, it is about we. To enjoy true happiness and success in life you need to become a team player who is good at teamwork. Relationships, and therefore teams, are there to expand experience.
Through working well together we can create synergies, i.e situations where the results of the group are better, stronger and faster than what any of the individuals could have achieved by themselves.
Three major obstacles for teamwork
Before we look at what makes teamwork work, lets look at some fundamental things that hinder succesful cooperation.
- Our history in groups and relationships. It easily happens that we bring past, negative experiences from working with other people into our present team, although the new group has nothing that of these old patterns in actuality.
- A feeling of stress or lack of time. To establish the relationships in a team that allows for good teamwork takes some time. If you are not willing to invest that time and effort up front, you will not reap the rewards later. Rather you'll be stuck with an underperforming bunch of people.
- Lack of feedback. Sometimes we forget to confirm each other by giving feedback. Sometimes we have not had the proper training to give feedback in a good way. Giving effective feedback is a fast track to developing a teams performance.
So what can we do to make our teams work?
- Set some rules or guidelines for how you want to behave towards each other. This could be a reflection of core values of the group and will act a sense of safety when relationships in the group are new and as a support in times of conflict.
- Clarify expectations. The rules and guidelines are expectations in a sense, but also make sure to clarify expectations at a start of a meeting. If one person expects a fast decision meeting and another in the team expects fruitful and creative discussions, and these expectations are not communicated, the teamwork is bound to fail right from the start and unnecessary conflicts will arise.
- Allow time to get to know each other. Especially in new, inmature teams this is of essence. Allowing time for small talk, which is talk about other things than the actual work ahead or past, is a great teambuilder both in new and more established groups. It might also mean creating a format in the beginning of the groups life to allow the group members to present themselves to the others.
- Practice giving feedback. Bring in a good consultants to teach the skills of giving feedback or study it yourself and then bring share it with your team. Discuss what makes up for good feedback. Create some guidelines for giving, and receiving, feedback that can be used by the group.
- Clarify goals. Along with expectations above this is a major key to well functioning teamwork. So often teams think everybody is in agreement and clear about what the goals are, but alas. Ask questions, verbalize the goals, spend some time on this at the start and you wil have a turbo boost later.