As a team leader, supervisor or manager, you have to always be looking at your teams performance. Think about the overall teamwork within your team? I know that many leaders will point to the overall results as the best indicator. I would argue that results are a good indicator, but not the best indicator. I can think of some teams that the results were very strong, but when it came to overall teamwork – that team was pretty weak. Ever have that “one” team mate? You know the one that works as a lone wolf and keeps the rest of the team at arms length. How about a team that works in cliques? Those two or three different sub teams within the larger team. How do you really get your complete team to work together? Ask yourself some pretty tough questions…
- Does teamwork mean blunt frankness, diplomatic honesty, or ultimate polite respect? We all want a team that has diverse styles. I have had some very blunt team members that really turn off the others. Or maybe the ultra polite one. Think about what you value and expect of them?
- What if people don’t like each other personally but pull together to achieve success? Does that meet your definition of teamwork? Work relationship are very tricky because of the time that is spent together. People will always form opinions of each other. You can not stop that from happening. Focusing on the important expectations helps keep the team focus on what they all need to do to be successful.
- If one team member has a critical specialized skill or achieves more, does that entitle them to extra respect, special treatment, or more recognition from you? It happens and your view of it impacts teamwork. Sometimes we are own worst enemy when it comes to this one. You may not even be aware of what you are doing that is helping to treat some team members different than others. Each team member is important.
- Do you expect the team to work out their own interpersonal difficulties? I bet this question really will have a strong reaction from you. We would all like to think that adults can resolve any interpersonal difficulties they may have with each other. Just does not happen all the time. As the team leader, you will have to be the facilitator to insure smoothness.
- What do you expect from existing team members when new members join? Are they actively open or sitting back waiting to see what the new member has to offer? If you know Tuckman’s model, you will remember that new members always take a team back a step or two. Best to be prepared to set the expectations of your team (and the new team members).
- How will your teams work with other teams? It is easy to focus on how “your” team will work together, but do you spend time on getting cross teams to work together? When I was doing manufacturing supervision, it is easy to focus on your shifts output and compare that to how when you are doing compared to the other shifts. Setting up the “we” did it! This also sets up the “we” vs “them” attitude. Make sure that when you are comparing your teams – it is done with your output compared to what was expected of your team (and the complete end goal of the organization).
- Disagreements occur. What place and purpose do they have in teamwork? Harmony is not your friend. It maybe masking a bigger problem. How the team handles these disagreements is key. I see some disagreements as a persons passion stepping forward. Many good things have come from that passion. Being able to recognize the right reason of the disagreement can be powerful for a team.
Getting your team to work together is not the easiest thing for you to do. It requires you to look at your team individually and as a whole and most importantly yourself (words and actions). Great working teams are a work in progress all the time. Don’t just look at the results. The team is looking at you for more than just that.