What truly makes teamwork effective? It is about the perspective of the individual member not the managers.
I had a new employee ask about my department’s teamwork. Did we have a good team? I said, “I do not know.” He lookd at me with a puzzled look, he was confused. I guess he was confused, sense he is always hearing managers say what a great team they had in their department. Then to hear me say, I did not know was very unusual. I explained.
If you look at our departmental results we are always on or near the top. But, I do not know about teamwork in the since of what people mean when they say something about a corporate team. I have noticed there is no great elaboration by a manager who states they have a great team. If they mean there is never a problem on their team, then that is not us. We have problems from time to time, sometimes business related, sometimes personal.
I played on a winning football team in high school. Our coach consecrated on us as individuals, knowing that we would make us a great team. Our coach had trained us to know our role on each play. He told us that if we performed our role, each play was designed to go for a touchdown. We were good, but of course, every play did not score. Coach stayed on the sidelines during a game. He did not know what happened in the huddle. We had an orderly huddle because he had trained us how to act in the huddle.
As a first line manager, I am on the sideline like my coach. I can tell the employees how to act. It is up to the employees of our department to perform their roles and maintain order. I have a winning team on the field. I do not know what goes on when I am not in the huddle. But, I am the coach and I can do something to make us successful.
I aim for critical mass in an individual. The unit in our organization that makes a difference is the employee. Each employee is trained to know our department’s mission and policies. The employee knows the role they play in the accomplishment of our mission. When the employee thoroughly buys into our mission; you can see it in their actions and attitude. The employee has reached critical mass. When an employee reaches critical mass, they spread that energy to other employees. When this happens our organization becomes filled with energy. This energy really shows at critical times when our department is under stress to perform. Our department functions at a high level because each person is fulfilling their role. By concentrating on the individual, I think teamwork becomes a natural outcome of the process.
Teamwork cannot be mandated; it is a process. Teamwork does not start with the department; it starts within the employees that make up the department. If critical mass takes place, other departments and our customers see an energized team.