· Workforce

What is a team?

"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together" - African proverb.

This week, I thought bringing to your attention some of the principles we carry in our Team Building Module.

Teamwork has been a popular concept in business for many years. It seems that everywhere we go, we hear about teams. But what is a team? Are there minimal requirements for having a team? Let's have a look at that.

What a "team" may be is in the eye of the beholder. Teams can be anything you want or need them to be. They come in many sizes, shapes and variations. Some may be together for long periods of time, others for short-term projects or tasks. As long as you have two or more people working together on a common goal, you have a team.

However, teamwork doesn’t come naturally to all people; it’s a learned skill. We often need to be taught how to work together as a team. So much of our upbringing and culture is focused on competition and beating the other guy to get ahead in life. This makes embracing the concepts of teamwork on the job a real challenge for many people.

For example, say that you and a coworker are in sales and you both want to go after the same big account that’s currently doing business with another vendor. You’re told by your boss that you can both compete for the business. You could compete against each other, but you realize that each of you has special areas of expertise and knowledge of the prospective account that would benefit everyone. One of you, on your own, may not be able to win the account from the other vendor - the real competition. If you decide to cooperate with one another, you can both call on the account and improve your company’s chances of getting the business. The point is, you need to keep in mind who is the real competition. It’s not the person working next to you or in another department, office or facility within your organization. Those people are your teammates. You need to work together, not against one another.

Sometimes, the real competition is hard to see. We think that anytime we’re challenged to do something better, we need to outperform everyone else. The point we need to keep relearning in life is that we need to find ways to help team members perform the job to the best of their abilities, so everyone on the team can be successful. Perceptions about competition make teamwork a difficult concept for people to understand. But by applying the concepts of teamwork, competition can be positive for everyone. The only winner in a competition without teamwork is the outside competition - the organizations that want to take away your customers and business.

Furthermore, it’s important that team members be able to talk with each other to ensure that necessary information is communicated to everyone. Although this may sound like a simple enough objective to meet, it’s not always the case. There can be many reasons why members of teams don’t talk with one another. Team members may not have been given the opportunity to communicate due to time limitations, location or physical barriers. There may be skills that need to be developed among the team members to help them with their interpersonal communication skills.
You need to think about how team members in your organization talk with one another. What obstacles might exist that prevent these communications from occurring? How can these obstacles be removed? For example, how might electronic communications, such as e-mail, voice mail or video teleconferences help establish better communication throughout the organization?

In conclusion, your task is to answer these three questions to help elevate the communication levels, thus teamwork, to another level: What obstacles exist in our workgroup that prevent communication from occurring? How can these obstacles be removed? Which skills should be developed among team members to help with interpersonal communications?

Francis Prézeau

Signature Canada is a leader in training employees to deliver legendary customer service while increasing sales. Since 1986, Signature’s unique training methodology has provided a measurable ROI for our customers, compelling them to return year after year. www.signaturecanada.ca