by Judy M McCutcheon
I love doing things my way and, on my terms, but that’s not always the best way. In fact, it’s the worst way of doing things in an organisation. Andrew Carnegie said that teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to achieve uncommon results. I am sure many of you have heard the phrase “Teamwork makes the dream works”.
Some of you may be reading this now and thinking that’s an old and overused cliché, but let me tell you, this statement is as true as today as it was yesterday. We are just about one month out from the general elections, and I am wondering what lessons have we learnt? I know that sometimes our memories are short, but I am sure you remember the 2013 general elections and more importantly, one of the reasons the incumbent did not retain power – they failed to exist as a cohesive team. Some time ago I wrote about the disease of more, the parody that gets hold of us once we get a sweet taste of success, we now know for sure that lasting success is not possible without cooperation and collaboration.
Phenomenal teamwork is essential for high performance and success in any business. The success of any organisation relies to a great extent on the ability of the team to collaborate and operate together. Do your employees see themselves as a team or as a group of individuals, working together? Look at the internal workings of your organisation, not the processes or procedures but the people who man these processes and procedures, are they cohesive? Then look at your bottom line and see what stories it tells. Even in challenging economic times, the companies that stand out are the ones who have leaders that are able to get their people to function as a team and at a high level of performance. The essence of teamwork is really about people working together to achieve much more than they could alone. It’s not so much about liking each other, that’s a bonus, but it is not necessary – it’s about mutual respect.
Teams work best when everyone has a shared vision, understand their roles and responsibilities, deliver their best and work diligently towards the success of the organisation. Teamwork is not only applicable to the working environment, it’s also essential to the success of relationships. A crucial mistake some managers make is in thinking that teamwork is about hanging out after work, sharing personal stories, holding hands, and singing kumbaya. It’s not about that. It would be the best of both worlds if your team performed excellently and got along with each other in the process. But what is really needed is for your team to be professional in the way they interact with each other, have a common goal and a shared vision, have clear roles and responsibilities and are committed to the success of the organisation.
Make no mistake however; teamwork is all about collaboration. There is a positive correlation between collaboration being pervasive within an organisation and its profitability. This includes having engaged employees, being able to attract and retain some of the best talent, increased flexibility, and productivity. Creating a culture that fosters teamwork and collaboration is an important ingredient for success. What are some of the benefits?
Flexibility – The ability of an organisation to anticipate and react to sudden changes in the business environment is crucial. With collaboration comes increased flexibility and the company’s ability to adapt.
Productivity – Two or more is always better than one. From an operation standpoint, teams that collaborate and communicate effectively, work excellently and are able to grow faster.
Engaged Employees – According to statistics, about 1/3 of employees are engaged, which means that an organisation whose employees are not engaged could be at risk. What better way to foster engagement than by improving teamwork and fostering greater collaboration among employees. Engaged workers are more adaptive to change and are more willing to take on challenges that will take them to the next level.
Attract and retain the best talent – Effective teamwork, collaboration and communication give your organisation a competitive edge when it comes to being able to attract and retain the best talent. Talented workers want to work for people whom they respect, people who will engage and interact with them and who they can learn from.
As a leader it is important that you understand the crucial role that a collaborative culture plays, not only to the internal environment, but you must also recognise how your organisation’s culture affects the way your employees interact with your external customers. Then you must understand that you are in control of whether those interactions are negative or positive. #TeamworkMakesTheDreamWork
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Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net