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Why we still need teamwork to thrive

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“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Ken Blanchard, Management writer

Teamwork involves a group of people working together to complete a shared goal and the benefits are well established. Teams form to achieve a common goal – whether in business or sport – it takes the combined individual efforts of all team members to achieve a goal. Usually teams are overseen by a team leader who has the authority to resolve issues and set direction. Most organisations find that teamwork is necessary to hit targets, complete projects and consistently deliver successful outcomes.

For the Emperor Penguins, their very survival depends on working together

With the right leadership, teamwork can help to achieve a goal more efficiently by sharing out the workload evenly and delegating tasks to those with the most suitable skill set.  Working as a part of a team can help employees to feel more engaged and motivated. 

A Stanford study found that people working collaboratively stuck at their task for 64% longer than those working individually on the same task.  It also reported higher levels of engagement and success and lower levels of fatigue.

‘The results showed that simply feeling like you’re part of a team of people working on a task makes people more motivated as they take on challenges’

The benefits to productivity levels would suggest employers are right to highlight the importance of employees being ‘team players’. Team leaders need to create the right environment to incentivise team behaviours and agree a clear sense of purpose with team members.

Valuing team differences

In working with teams at Henley Management College, Belbin identified that team members will hold one or more roles. He defined team roles as “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelated with others in a particular way.” No team thrives if everyone thinks and acts the same so encouraging diversity in team thinking is vital.  Over time Belbin identified nine team roles which can be grouped as action orientated, social orientated and thinking. Understanding the preferred role for each team member allows for the creation of well balanced teams. Cast your mind to the BBC Apprentice series to see what happens when a team lacks any one of these core areas – success is usually elusive.  

When people understand their own and others’ roles, greater understanding about each other’s contributions is possible, in turn allowing employees to play to their strengths.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” ― Phil Jackson, Team Coach, Chicago Bulls

Could your own teams be more effective?

If you’d like to find out more about how Belbin team profiles can help existing teams to be understood and improved in the workplace contact me.

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