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JULY 2023

TEAM WORK

Our theme this month is: Team Work and why a collaborative mindset is more important than individual talent.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

(African proverb)

 

Many of you will probably know this famous proverb; however I wonder if it needs to be adjusted to reflect today's complex and interconnected world. I come to believe that even if you want to go fast - you'd better bring a few - ideally diverse minds and skillsets -  along with you.

 

Just think about it. In the past, we had clear job descriptions, less ambiguity, less speed, less interconnectedness. We talked about 'team work' but what we really meant was a group of the same people sitting once a week around a table to discuss the work of the team. Today's world is very different. Individuals need different skill sets and mindsets these days. Teams for formed often and rapidly, resources get frequently allocated and reallocated. It requires a lot of flexibility of the individual to show up to a new team and work effectively with zero notice and adjustment. Being able to teamwork effectively is the number 1 skill any future leader needs to master. 

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

(Phil Jackson, NBA player and coach, born 1945)

In the fast-paced and interconnected digital corporate world, an individual's ability to work effectively in teams, or even lead teams, has become a key skill that trumps anyone's individual unique skillset. If you are a brilliant data scientist but you don't know how to teamwork, your skill is virtually worthless.

 

Successful organisations understand that collaboration, synergy, and effective communication among team members are key ingredients for achieving remarkable results. Yet why do people struggle so much to make teamwork work? Is it lack of trust? Lack of join vision? Lack of clarity of communication? Lack of accountability? Free-rider problem? Or perhaps it simply is that remuneration in most organisations is tied to individual performance over teamwork? Let's uncover that topic and see what you can do - both as a contributor and leader - to make teamwork work better for everyone.  

THE ESSENCE OF TEAMWORK 

We came up with five core components that we believe are critical and can be a great way to measure and assess teamwork.

  • Collaboration: Teamwork emphasises the power of collective effort, where individuals with diverse skills and perspectives come together to achieve a common goal. It involves sharing ideas, expertise, and responsibilities, fostering an environment that thrives on cooperation rather than competition. Collaborative working helps people to get a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, complementary skill sets, and the benefit of diverse teams. Also, collaboration is only possible if there is trust and a common believe that everyone is working towards a common goal.

 

  • Communication: Effective communication lies at the heart of successful teamwork. It entails active listening, expressing ideas clearly, and providing constructive feedback. Clear and open lines of communication facilitate trust, understanding, and mutual support within the team. It is important to check all voices and concerns are being heard, not just the 'loudest' people in the room. Asking questions like: 'What's the one reason why we shouldn't do it?' or 'What is the worst case scenario that could happen?', 'Whose perspective have we not taken into consideration yet?' - are great example prompts to discover contrarian views and embrace open communication.

  • ​​Synergy: Teamwork leverages the principle of synergy, where the combined efforts of team members create outcomes that surpass individual contributions. Synergy are particularly important when organisations are short in resources and are trying to establish partnership goals internally or externally. A powerful way to generate innovative solutions.

 

  • Accountability: Teamwork promotes a shared sense of responsibility and accountability. Each team member understands their role and actively contributes towards achieving team objectives. By holding themselves and others accountable, individuals foster a culture of reliability and commitment. Important is that while there is a team effort, individual contributions should be highlighted and credit needs to be given to people's individual and team achievements.

  • Adaptability: In the rapidly evolving corporate landscape, adaptability is crucial for successful teamwork. Teams that can quickly respond to change, embrace new technologies, and adjust their strategies are better equipped to navigate challenges and seize opportunities.

 

In the modern, digital corporate world, teamwork plays a vital role in driving organisational success. By embracing collaboration, communication, synergy, accountability, and adaptability, teams can leverage the power of collective effort to achieve remarkable outcomes.

 

However, it's important to acknowledge the challenges that professional women may face in team settings, where they might not experience an inclusive environment that promotes and embraces collaboration and equal opportunities for all. Often women's ideas don't get heard or acknowledged in team meetings. Having someone moderate in a consciously inclusive way might increase the chance for diverse or minority team members' voices to be heard.

 

Assessing one's own team working capability through self-reflective questions allows individuals to enhance their skills and contribute effectively to their teams, ultimately propelling both personal and professional growth.

TEAMWORK IN DISPERSED TEAMS  

 

Fostering effective teamwork in a dispersed team can be challenging, but with the right strategies, it is possible to create a collaborative and connected environment.

 

Here are three best practice tips along with examples to foster better teamwork in a dispersed team:

 

1. Embrace Technology for Communication and Collaboration:

Utilise digital tools and technologies to facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among team members, regardless of their physical locations.

 

Examples of best practices include:

  • Use video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams for virtual team meetings, allowing face-to-face interactions and promoting engagement. Use breakout rooms, interact, be fully present.

  • Implement project management and collaboration tools such as Trello, Asana, or Slack to track progress, assign tasks, and share documents in real-time.

  • Establish a centralised digital workspace, where team members can access and collaborate on shared files and documents.

 

2. Establish Clear Goals, Roles, and Expectations:

Clearly defining team goals, individual roles, and expectations is crucial for fostering teamwork in a dispersed team. When everyone understands their responsibilities and the bigger picture, it enhances collaboration and accountability. Using OKR methodology is a great way. Renae Fisher is an expert in that if you like to find her in our network.

 

Examples of best practices include:

  • Develop a shared vision and set clear goals that align with the team's purpose and objectives. Communicate these goals to all team members and ensure they have a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved.

  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities for each team member, considering their strengths, expertise, and availability. This clarity helps avoid confusion and ensures everyone knows their specific contributions to the team.

  • Establish and communicate expectations regarding communication frequency, response times, and availability. This helps create a sense of trust and reliability among team members, even when working remotely.

3. Nurture Team Bonding and Relationship Building:

Building strong relationships and a sense of camaraderie within a dispersed team is essential for effective collaboration and teamwork. Encouraging regular interaction and creating opportunities for team bonding can help overcome the physical distance.

 

Examples of best practices include:

  • Schedule regular virtual team-building activities, such as online games, quizzes, or informal video chats, to foster a sense of connection and strengthen interpersonal relationships.

  • Encourage informal communication channels, such as virtual watercooler chats or dedicated social channels, where team members can share personal updates, interests, and engage in non-work-related conversations.

  • Celebrate team successes and milestones by recognising and appreciating individual and collective achievements. This recognition fosters a positive team culture and motivates team members to continue working collaboratively.

  • Pair people up so they have a dedicated 'buddy' to learn and grow with.

By embracing technology, establishing clear goals and expectations, and nurturing team bonding, dispersed teams can overcome the challenges of physical distance and foster a strong sense of teamwork, collaboration, and productivity.

But of course that all sounds fairly easy, the reality is teamwork is hard. The more frequent the team members change, the more dispersed timezones the team members are in, the more different their personalities and communication preferences are...the more the team has to make a conscious effort to make teamwork work for everyone.

DIVERSITY CONSCIOUSNESS IN TEAMS  

However, it's important to acknowledge the challenges that professional women may face in team settings, where they might not experience an inclusive environment that promotes and embraces collaboration and equal opportunities for all.

 

Often women's ideas (or any diverse group members to be fair) don't get heard or acknowledged in team meetings. There is a 'nice' McKinsey study on that... 

 

Having someone moderate in a consciously inclusive way might increase the chance for diverse or minority team members' voices to be heard.

 

Assessing one's own team working capability through self-reflective questions allows individuals to enhance their skills and contribute effectively to their teams, ultimately propelling both personal and professional growth.

But the most important question one has to ask, is 'what can I do to make teamwork better for everyone?'

5 SELF-REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS TO ASSESS YOUR TEAM WORKING CAPABILITIES

  1. Am I an active listener? Do I allow all team members to express their opinions and ideas without interruptions?

  2. How often do I actively seek and value diverse perspectives, recognising the unique strengths and insights each team member brings?

  3. How effectively do I communicate my ideas and feedback? Am I clear, concise, and respectful in my communication?

  4. How well do I collaborate with others? Do I willingly share information, resources, and credit for achievements?

  5. How open am I to constructive criticism and feedback, using it as an opportunity for personal and professional growth? How do I react to feedback when receiving? How do I give feedback?

Pat Riley

"Great teamwork is the only way we create the breakthroughs that define our careers."

Amy Poehler

"Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life."

Margaret Mead

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

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