"You know, there's no I in team," we hear managers say with conviction. And since there isn't a single spelling-bee winner among us, we won't argue about that. We will argue that no matter how we spell it, no matter what we call it, a high performing team needs a healthy measure of I to achieve its potential.
Teamwork simply means that we are pulling together toward a common goal rather than pulling apart. When we pull together we achieve our shared goals with minimal effort. When we pull apart it takes more resources to get the job done. In this "do-more-with-less" world that we live in, teaming becomes a necessary business practice. Teamwork is especially critical in environments where we are Interdependent – we are, in fact, one another's internal customers and suppliers.
Some teams are standing teams, and some teams come together for a short-term project. Some teams share a physical space, while others share a virtual space. Some teams are very small, others more complex. Regardless, when we recognize and develop the I in team, we set ourselves up for high performance.
It all starts with having the right people in the right places doing the right things. Each team is comprised of a group of individuals. Individuals have unique characteristics, talents, qualifications, knowledge, experience and perspectives. Each individual is unique in how they approach their work and how they process information. Each individual is unique in what motivates them to give their best efforts on a consistent basis. Each individual must know and buy into the team goals and be clear on his/her role within the team. Each individual must understand how his/her actions impact other members and performance of the team as a whole. Proactively respecting and appreciating individual differences goes a long way in setting the team up for success.
Teamwork completely depends upon information. Individual members must have clear and timely information in order to make good decisions and act in the best interests of the team. Information flows from various directions. Clear information channels must be established to, from and within the team to empower decision-making at the proper levels.
Things start to get interesting when individual team members interpret input and data from different perspectives and disciplines. Individual interpretations of situations, circumstances and data must frequently be checked for shared understanding before action is taken. This precautionary step accelerates the team accomplishments and assures that individual members are being understood and respected.
Members experience different insights that are extremely valuable in solving and preventing problems. When our work culture encourages insights to be shared and considered, ingenuity and innovation will drive continuous improvement. High-performance teamwork depends upon synergistic interactions. Members who seek to bring out the best in their colleagues build trust and contribute to an inspired work environment. Team inspiration and individual inspiration source our energy and confidence to step it up and take our performance to the next level.
Put a little I in your team, and watch performance soar.
"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." – Michael Jordan