“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” – George Bernard Shaw
There is a big difference between a team and a collection of individuals.
A team is comprised of individuals who work together with a common purpose and vision — sharing information and resources in such a way as to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Teams communicate effectively — and they often disagree. In fact, disagreement is an important sign of a healthy team. Disagreement means that individuals are approaching problems from different perspectives, dialoguing, and determining the best approach.
A collection of individuals, on the other hand, may sit in the same office — but they don’t collaborate. They work towards individual goals. There is little sharing of information and resources.
Individuals don’t disagree often — because they are focused on their own work. There is no collaboration, because there is no one to collaborate with.
And while individuals may get the job done, because there is no process of collaboration, there is no telling how much better the results could have been had the challenge been examined from multiple perspectives.
Granted, not every situation calls for collaboration and teamwork. But in my experience, a large majority of business owners utilize the power of teamwork too little — very few business owners place too much emphasis on collaboration!
How can you stimulate collaboration and teamwork among your employees?
Encourage effective communication. This starts with you, as the owner or manager. Do you actively seek feedback and differing opinions? Or do you expect your employees to follow orders without question? Set the right example for your team to follow.
Evaluate team performance, instead of individual performance. If you preach teamwork all year long but revert to individual evaluations when it comes to performance reviews, you’re contradicting your message. Evaluate individuals primarily based on their contribution to the team—not on their personal merits.
Structure your teams based on the abilities of the individuals involved. For a team to be effective, it must be comprised of individuals with different skill sets and perspectives. Assign each team member a role that suits his or her individual strengths.
Teamwork is imperative if you seek to build a world-class business. It may be a cliché, but the statement “the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts” is accurate in the business world. If you would like to learn more about building effective teams, please contact me today!