Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Teamwork Formula - Five Magic Questions

I enjoy working alone. In fact, on a typical business day I work at my computer in isolation all day long.

But that fact is misleading. I coordinate my work dozens of times a day with my coworkers through email, instant messaging, a private forum, and phone.

As I reflect on my life so far, I have to say that everything I’ve accomplished has been the result of a team effort. In fact, it’s hard to think of an example of anything noteworthy that’s accomplished strictly by an individual effort. I know it happens, but it’s certainly the exception.

I hear this all the time: You can get what you want by helping other people get what they want.

Author Brian Tracy put it this way:
“Teamwork is so important that is it virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.”

But not all groups are very good at teamwork. Each person has personal goals and wants to succeed as an individual. The needs of the one can conflict with the needs of the many. With everything that a person has to do, it may not be so easy to keep the group perspective in mind, or to stay motivated to help the other members do their best.

I’m a big fan of basketball, and whenever I think about teamwork, the first image that comes to mind is that of five players moving in concert on a basketball court. I think of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Magic Johnson era, the Boston Celtics in the Larry Bird era, or the Chicago Bulls in the Michael Jordan era. Once I play that movie in my mind, the principles of team performance seem rather evident. In basketball, a team that brings superior teamwork and energy can usually defeat an opponent that has superior talent. And of course, the combination of teamwork, energy and talent is hard to beat.

What does it take for a group of people to function as a “high-performing team?” Consider these questions:
  1. Does the group have a meaningful purpose that the members relate to?
  2. Have the members been assigned roles that are key to team success?
  3. Do each of the members do their jobs with high levels of skill and effort?
  4. Do they keep each other informed, share resources and help each other when needed?
  5. Have they formed a bond through common effort, adversity and achievement? 
Of course, team sports is an easy example. But these questions can apply to any group effort, even to that of a family. Yes, a family! The story...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength . (License to use the above photo purchased from istockphoto.com.)

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I like your 5 questions, Denny. They are worth extended thought. Thanks.