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30 June 2011  /  
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Teamwork – efforts towards a common cause

The words ‘symphony’ and ‘orchestra’ set our minds to a group of musicians who play together a variety of instruments, playing to the movements of famed composers like Beethoven and Mozart. A typical symphony orchestra has more than ninety musicians and has more than one musician playing each musical part. This is exactly what teamwork is about: learning harmonious ways of co-operation to produce excellent results

Just as in an orchestra where instruments and talents team up to generate pleasant music, team work is an essential element of any activity. It is the act of working together and putting in joint efforts to promote or achieve a common goal or mission.

Teamwork applies to us in our working environment where we interact with our colleagues to perform the various tasks that the organisation wants us to accomplish. However, teamwork is necessary in all walks of life and need not be confined to just work. At home if the members of the house do not work together as a cohesive group, many tasks will never get completed.

Evolution in a team can be categorized into four stages:

Pretending to get on or get along with others, also known as faking. In this stage, members meet and often express their expectations, concerns or anxieties about what is about to happen. The team sets goals, identifies members’ strengths, and discusses the limits within which it will operate. It is an orientation in which team members get acquainted, break the ice and “test” each other to see which behaviors are acceptable. Conflict is seldom voiced directly.

Letting down the politeness barrier and trying to get down to the issues even if tempers flare up, usually the chaos stage. It is the most difficult to get through and is characterized by conflict and disagreement as individual personalities emerge. There is very little communication because no one is listening and some are still unwilling to talk openly, often leading to personality clashes. Once they warm up to each other, peace and serenity prevails, leading to the next stage.

Getting used to each other and developing trust and productivity, a sense of emptiness and peace set in. Openness and cooperation with freedom of expression set in. They listen to each other and communication among members is cordial.

Working in a group to a common goal on a highly efficient and cooperative basis and where a community feeling emerge. The team is strategically aware of its functions, knows clearly why and what it is doing. It has shared vision in focus to achieve the goals set.

How to promote teamwork
While the team evolves, there are other fundamentals that should be in place to ensure the team performs to its maximum.

Firstly, there should be effective leadership. The team’s leader should possess the skills to create a positive working environment and motivate and inspire the team members to take be highly dedicated to the task at hand. An effective team leader will promote a high level of morale and make them feel supported and valued.

Next, clear communication should prevail among team members who should be able to express their thoughts freely and share goals and ideas.

Thirdly, each team member must understand his/her responsibility to the team and act in their capacity. As the team is made of individuals, conflicts regarding views and ideas will arise. There should be a structured way of addressing conflicts. Team members should be able and allowed to voice their concerns without fear of offending others. A strong leader who is fair and impartial is vital in such situations.

Lastly, the team should set a good example. Team members are viewed by others in the organization as ‘special’ and look up to them for inspiration, motivation and guidance. Within the team itself, setting good example should start with the leader; such good positive leadership will rub on to the others and provide motivation and inspiration for continued commitment and focus towards the tasks at hand. The team looks to the leader for support and guidance so any negativity on the leader’s part can be disastrous.

Concepts sourced from:
Benefits of Teamwork,
Why is Teamwork Important in the Workplace,
Developmental sequence in small groups,