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Teamwork

I have to say that I really enjoy teamwork. Some of the most enjoyable and productive jobs I have ever had have been because of a good team. There are several aspects that separate a good team for the rest. These aspects are the same despite the team being a single function or cross function team.

A good team is exemplified by a sense of camaraderie. This feeling that binds the team together can be limited to the office, but can also spill out into evenings at the bar or restaurant. This is especially true for consultants or coworkers travelling to a remote site to accomplish a common task or project. The sense that the team is more of a unit is necessary for all good team efforts. Without the binding force of camaraderie, the team reverts into individuals at the first sign of pressure. The team dissolves from “we” to “he and she” and all hopes at effective or efficient teamwork is lost.

The second aspect to a good team is a shared sense of purpose. A sense of purpose can only be kept alive by a unit, whether that unit is an individual or a team. The purpose is the goal or series of goals that, usually, is the reason for the team’s creation. Without a sense of camaraderie, the team’s purpose will be interpreted differently by the individuals and the team loses its ability to achieve a common goal. Once the team has a shared sense of purpose, all efforts, tasks, and support can then be directed toward the common goal and the team can succeed.

Complementary skills are the bellwether that determines the success of the team. Once a team has pulled together through a sense of camaraderie and has a shared sense of purpose, then individual skill sets come together to separate the good teams from the great teams. On single function teams, where all the members share a common skill set, it is the individual experiences, outlooks, vision, or secondary skills that can be added to the team that will enable them to approach greatness. For the multi- or cross-functional team, any common or complementary skills only serve to bring further cohesion to the teams’ efforts and it is the individual skills, understanding, mentoring, and leadership that generates the team momentum into greatness.

The most successful, and most enjoyable, teams I have ever worked on have been those where I was a part of something greater than myself, those that I brought my skills and experience to the table and combined it with the talents of the other members to reach a common goal. In most of those teams, each member rose to a leadership role as time went on and as the team needed their particular talents. Each member was trusted and empowered and as a result great teamwork resulted.

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