Originally published in hrlook.com

If It's Not a Team, What Is It?

By Lorraine Weygman

In the Beginning

Have you ever wondered why some offices are more productive than others and how that happens? In these places, many of the staff appear to get along easily, work flows, less time is wasted, interruptions are easily handled, absenteeism, staff turnover and stress levels are lower than the norm. Destructive office politics are nowhere in sight, work is completed on time, people are helpful and supportive to each other and they smile a lot.

To many of you, I’ve described a myth, an impossible dream and certainly not a reality. The above scenario does exist and it is what most of us strive for – even if we never make it.

Many companies now recognize that when the work force acts as a unified team, mental and physical health improves, feelings and attitudes are positive, productivity climbs through the roof and greater profits result.

What does it take?

It involves a willingness to embrace change at the individual and corporate level. It involves clarity of communication. It involves an understanding of the personality and thinking style disparities among us so that we can develop a greater understanding of those differences – inside and outside of the workplace. It involves respect for self and others. And . . . it involves time, how to use it and reorganize it – plenty of time and patience.

In the beginning:

 Teambuilding starts with the executive team. They must understand, communicate and support it so it can percolate through the entire organization. Here are some of the questions to ask:

  • What does ‘team’ mean to you? What or who constitutes a team?
  • What are team goals and expected benefits?
  • What are the characteristics of an effective team?
  • What is the role of the leader? Do all teams have a leader?
  • How does the team and its individuals connect to the corporate mission, vision and values?

Some key team qualities:

  • Appropriate leadership
  • Commitment
  • Constructive, trusting climate
  • Concern to achieve
  • Clear roles
  • Effective work methods
  • Well organized procedures
  • Creative strength where innovative risk taking is rewarded

The team must be capable of achieving results that individuals cannot do in isolation or that is beyond their individual capability. It must have common goals or a purpose, which each member recognizes and understands.

Team members must be able to take strength from one another, resulting in synergy, a very special type of productive and creative energy. The team atmosphere must be constructive, where individual interest is as important as the group. Interdependence is a key factor.

Is the atmosphere and leadership at your workplace conducive to continually developing and improving teamwork? Does the culture support that type of workgroup? I ask, if it’s not a team, what is it?

Feel free to send me your own questions and some of your experiences – positive and negative. If you like, we can share them through this column.

Lorraine has over 25 years of international experience as an accomplished motivational speaker, consultant, writer, facilitator and radio host. She has been featured on radio and television and in numerous magazines and newspapers in North and South America, Britain and Russia. For more information about Lorraine, visit http://www.weygman.com

This article may be copied as long as it's kept whole and Lorraine's bio is kept with the article, including the live link to her website.

"We are delighted with the Teambuilding series of workshops.  The results are greater than we expected and the follow-up sessions were definitely important and useful.

"We experienced you as an effective, charismatic speaker with a positive focus and dynamic delivery.  You created a supportive atmosphere which gave us a feeling of comfort and trust to discuss “Touchy” issues.  Taking risks became simpler and easier.  Role playing was particularly useful. Your non-judgmental attitude was most helpful.  We are growing with the process of change and recommend you highly."

Tracy Blyth, General Manager, North York Chamber of Commerce


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