Managing people

Teamwork culture: ants have the right idea

Pulling together a group of employees, calling them a 'team' and expecting them to come up with great results will not necessarily lead to those employees working together effectively. 

As individuals, team members may all be competent and productive, but good leadership and support is also required for success.

We know that: 

  • team success is dependent on team dynamics and leader’s skills

  • business culture underpins the way the team performs

  • the team is greater than the sum of its individual parts

  • an effective culture of teamwork has many benefits across the business.

Get the team dynamics right

The dynamics of every workplace team must be considered, so team members with different skills and experience can work well together, while also allowing individuals to bring something worthwhile to the table. 

This means looking at different roles for team members, and supporting each member to use their skills and experience to make the best contribution. This is why the skills of the chosen team leader are an important consideration. 

The business culture is basically 'the way we do things around here', and because it underpins the way a team will perform, it should be another important consideration.

Get any of this wrong, and it will negatively affect the work group in terms of how well it functions, its productivity and its success – and, therefore, the bottom line of your business. You may experience competition rather than cooperation, and there may be clashes of personalities, ethics and values.

The team is more important than the individual

Your team may include people from different genders, races, cultural backgrounds, ages, education levels, past work experience, personalities and attitudes to work. Your aim is to ensure the overall team can benefit from this diversity by allowing each individual member to make their unique contribution.

Identify members who are: 

  • Doers – 'action' people who make sure things get done and keep driving the team to achieve results.

  • Thinkers – 'ideas people', who analyse issues, solve problems and look for new opportunities.

  • Carers – people who keep the team together, ease tensions, promote harmony and are sensitive about relationships within the team.

Choose members who have complementary skills and experience, while sharing similar values and attitudes. They also need to have an understanding of the importance of team over the individual. 

Team members need to have a strong sense of belonging and commitment, understand goals, targets, individual roles and responsibilities, and feel challenged by their individual responsibilities and responsible for the outcome.

When choosing a team leader look for someone who:

  • has good people, communication and listening skills

  • has the ability to establish clear, challenging goals everyone understands and wants to achieve

  • uses consultative processes to set goals, plans teamwork and allocates tasks, and establishes protocols and standards

  • can adapt their leadership style to suit the situation’s needs, and monitor the progress of both the individual and the team progress

  • can take action to make improvements when required.


Benefits of a 'teamwork' company culture

Teamwork and culture are not mutually exclusive – the former must be built into the latter. An effective teamwork culture will give you many benefits across the business. For example: 

  • When you have functioning teams, tasked with a common goal, the benefits include increased productivity and improved staff morale, trust, job satisfaction and staff retention.  

  • A good, open team environment where members feel free to say what they really think, and have the authority to develop their own ideas, isn’t only a great learning environment, but it also encourages innovative ideas. 

  • It allows different minds, skill sets and experience to focus on the same problem. And it gives team members the mutual support that is needed.

  • This type of environment brings people in on a project from all parts of the business, a critical success factor when implementing organisational change.

Give your staff the ability to collaborate with others, and they’ll inevitably learn more about what others do, and gain a broader understanding of the organisation.

Teamwork increases the accountability of everyone. No one wants to let each other down. Everyone does their best to contribute to the team’s success. 

A teamwork culture engenders a willingness to cooperate and a sense of belonging. All very solid reasons for building a teamwork culture.

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