We all participate in teams in all sorts of ways, and nearly all the time. Teamwork remains much misunderstood, despite Teamwork training and literature being oversold and overhyped. To me the acid test of the extent to which teamwork is understood by organizations and individuals is easy to assess. Then, if it becomes apparent that teamwork is not understood, you have a base from which you can help bring about improvements. So what is this secret?
“there is no ‘I’ in team”, blah blah blah. I get tired of hearing all that stuff. But one simple statement reveals so much about whether or not teamwork is understood. It goes like this:
When things go well, praise the individual. When things go badly the team takes the blame.
The reaction you don’t want to hear to this is something like “that’s ridiculous, people need to be accountable for doing their jobs. We don’t cover up failure. We hire slow and fire fast…..”.
I’ve heard that said several times and in the end I always disengaged from those employment situations. And yet you can sort of understand that lack of performance shouldn’t be hidden…
Of course it shouldn’t. But neither can everyone excel at everything. Effective teamwork, and effective leadership, is all about allowing individuals to use their strengths, and support them in their areas that need development. That is real teamwork.
So why is teamwork always misunderstood? Because we don’t take the time to understand each other better, or even recognize the need to do so.
When starting work with a group of individuals, how often do you discuss interests and disinterests? Like and dislikes? How often do you share resumes and experience? How often do you discuss who is best for which job? If the answer is always, great. If not, well, maybe you now know what to do.