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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Team Is Work. Real Team? Real Work.

You’re responsible for accomplishing some result that requires the efforts of a number of people.

That establishes several specifics. First, as the leader and focus of this activity, you will organize and manage the work of different people to achieve a single end.

Then, there will have to be communication in various forms through multiple channels. And your responsibility will have to be subdivided. You retain it overall, but share it and delegate it in the process.

You must satisfy the expectations of those you answer to, and you must have productive response from those who answer to you.

All that being so, you are the director of multiple layers of teamwork. All of your constituencies share a fundamental definition, but each of them is distinctly different in how it works. You are in the catbird seat at every stage in every function.

None of this is easy, which is why we see so little really effective teamwork in these situations. When it’s a true project, all the challenges are hyped by some level of complexity, risk and uncertainty – but the essentials exist in any group effort to do something.

 Whatever the nature of the activity, the human involvement is the most crucial element. It’s the people who make the thing work. The people asset also is the most volatile and unpredictable, which makes it the most important in terms of leadership thought, attention and time.

In short, getting the individuals to do their parts, and getting the group to properly manage its relationships, is the definition of group leadership.

The whole thing at work is called “teamwork.”

That term is among the vital concepts we toss around so frequently and so carelessly. We should think about it a little more, and spend some time working out just how we could make it more effective.

Teamwork refers to the behavior of people any time a number of them are engaged in a common endeavor. It can be done poorly, or in a mediocre fashion – or superbly.

So what is it like at the upper end of the quality arc?

A team is a group of diverse people working together toward a common goal. If it is to be a successful team, then the right people with the right skills are on it. If they are working together well, there are certain things they do well. And they must know and understand the goal, each individual making a powerful personal commitment to making it happen.

     Every one of those success indicators is included in the primary demands the leader of the group must meet. If she or he does not do that well, you get the unsatisfactory results we see so often in our workplaces. It’s no mystery why prideful outcomes are so rare; people don’t work to earn them.

And it is work.

First, getting the right people. Senior management of the organization must believe in the effort enough that people with the necessary skills are assigned to the work. No more of this, “Hey, do what you can with who you’ve got!” stuff.

 Second, making sure the executives are clear on what is to be accomplished and the level of nonhuman resources they therefore are committed to invest in it. And are the functional managers willing to reallocate workload so people actually have time to devote to this project?

Third, commitment and collaboration among the people doing the work. Does each person buy in thoroughly enough to ensure he or she can be relied upon to get the assignments done, on time and up to expectations? Will they take the time to communicate properly, and really help each other?

None of this is all that mysterious, once we stop to think about it. And talk about it.

In most organizations, though, the frank conversation is not comfortable, and doing the teamwork right is not easy.

If you value the results, you’ll do it anyway.

The Teamwork Myth










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