Steve Jobs explained teamwork using the story of an old man showing him how really ugly rocks can turn into incredibly beautiful ones after putting them in a can with some grit powder and liquid. The friction that was created among the rocks while they were in the tin made them come out as beautiful and polished ones.
The idea is that, as individuals, we can be fairly ordinary. But when we are within the tin can of “teams”, we go beyond our comfort zones. We fight, we argue and we are exposed to different viewpoints. Through this process, teams can mould their members in a way that they not only become great team members but also better versions of themselves.
There are several benefits of teamwork. These include a marked increase in efficiency, problem-solving skills, and effective communication.
While there are many benefits to working as a team, not all of them can be as effective as we expect.
In fact, in some cases, teamwork can turn out to be more catastrophic and unproductive than individuals working separately. This is due to a lack of team cohesion and an inability to reconcile the differences between team members.
Different personalities, perspectives, and approaches to work coming together to achieve a goal definitely have their own challenges. For this reason, getting the team on the same page and making them work together is a time-consuming and difficult task for managers.
So, managers take a look at their teams and ask: “Are they at their peak performance? Or are they breaking each other apart?” Improving team performance? Sounds great! But how?
Must Read: If You Want To Go Far, Go Together. Here's Why Teamwork Matters!
Choosing the right people
The success or failure of a good team begins with its members. Finding people who can understand–or more accurately, empathise–with one another, is half the job done already. Additionally, getting people with the right talent in relation to the task at hand will increase the effectiveness of the team.
Building a culture of trust
Knowing that each of the members is trying to achieve the same goal and that team members will be there for support whenever needed, creates a culture of trust. This can improve performance and group cohesion which, in turn, sparks their creativity and sense of innovation. When there is trust, taking a risk or trying something new suddenly seems far more possible and even exciting.
Encouraging teamwork at the workplace can be done by simply rewarding good teamwork, identifying and resolving existing issues, and creating a fun team environment.
Emphasising constructive criticism
Leaders need to guide team members on conflict resolution. For instance, encouraging members to speak to one another directly and have clear guidelines on how to resolve issues within the team will not only improve effective communication but also build a culture that is more solution-oriented.
Team building exercises are an excellent approach to improving teamwork. Through these exercises, members improve their skills, get to know each other better, and develop deeper connections in a fun and exciting environment.
Although organisations spend a lot of money and resources on various team-building retreats, oftentimes they report a lack of improvement in team effectiveness. For instance, outdoor and group problem-solving activities in the name of team building may not be as effective as most people believe them to be. While these exercises enhance relationships and teams have a good time engaging in them, at the end of the day, they often go back to their routine work style with little to no improvement.
One reason for this is that team-building exercises like these fail to address the real issues in the work environment. One of the most effective approaches to team building is to do simulations, which bring the complexities of real-life scenarios and operations into a safe, guided, and controlled environment.
These simulations provide a platform for members to work together to complete a specific task in which their conflicts such as lack of trust, poor communication, and ego become evidently clear. These issues can then be discussed during the debriefing session. This is where team members can address those issues and relate them back to their workplace. Such simulations give a holistic view of team performance at the workplace and insights to resolve conflicts through feedback from members.
The truth is that teamwork is at the heart of great achievement -John Maxwell
As mentioned earlier, bringing teams together to work at their best in synergy is a difficult task. There could be various factors that are making your team unproductive that you may not be aware of. Identifying those factors and getting to the root of the problem is key in building an effective team.
Check out the video below to see the Virtual Team Building provided by Leaderonomics, which includes a variety of simulations such as Silega Team Alignment simulation, Knolskape Contextual Team Leadership, and many more that provide a deeper understanding of team conflict.