While the value of Teamwork and Collaboration has been much hyped and there is a great social sanctity around being a great Team player, sharing the credit and hard work, supporting Team synergies and espousing the 'We' is better than 'Me' spirit, Teamwork remains the most difficult and elusive to get right within organizations- Ask your Managers! While we glorify and pay tribute to Team Work and acknowledge it’s importance especially when absent, there appears to be an almost delusional belief among Leaders that the Team will sort out its dynamics on their own in the interest of common goals, work around differences on work ethics and use their maturity to work around differences to finally celebrate the outcome as great Team Work!
To make matters worse several Team Building programs involve off-sites and activities completed under observation which when delivered play out the best of what people may demonstrate in a Team Building program (barring a few slip ups ofcourse which occur in any human transactions in adverse conditions-however artificially simulated they may be).
However, the real bugs bear plays out in real Teams when the Teams come “Unstuck’’ on real jobs, where Teamwork appears invariably less smart than the sum of the talents of individual Team members. To escape the Mediocrity Trap, the first Learning Block on developing Team skills is to explore how You can become a Preferred Co-worker in a Team!
Let’s begin by describing What 'Not to be’ while contributing in a Team which becomes toxic because of the behaviors of the Least Preferred Co-Worker. The Least Preferred Co-worker is:
While these may be mild variations on these behaviors, many of us may have experienced in bafflement and dismay Team members who are not only non-contributors themselves but also prevent the Team from Succeeding!
I was Chairing the Emerging Markets HR Summit in London a few years ago where one of the Speakers spoke about doing business in India and cautioned the participants about the challenges of Teamwork he had experienced and the Passive Aggression he believed those doing business from other countries must amply watch out for, while facilitating Teams to deliver in India.
To Escape the Mediocrity Trap and develop Preferred Coworker Behaviors, here is the Preferred Co-Worker Mindset you need to develop:
These Mindsets are a good starting point to prepare for great Teamwork! The Preferred Coworker Acts by doing the following:
Here are some great quotes that further reiterate the Preferred Coworker mind set:
-The Nice thing about Teamwork is that you always have others on your side
- Alone we do so little, together we can do so much individual commitment to a group effort- that is what makes a Team work, a Company work, a Society work, a Civilization work!
-You don't inspire Teammates by showing them how amazing you are, you inspire them by showing them how amazing They are!
- Team work makes the Dream work!
And finally, to summarize here's a poem that captures the true spirit of the Preferred Co-worker perfectly:
It's all very well to have courage and skill
And it's fine to be counted a star,
But the single deed with its touch of thrill
Doesn't tell the man you are;
For there's no lone hand in the game we play,
We must work to a bigger scheme,
And the thing that counts in the world to-day Is,
How do you pull with the team?
They may sound your praise and call you great,
They may single you out for fame,
But you must work with your running mate
Or you'll never win the game;
Oh, never the work of life is done
By the man with a selfish dream,
For the battle is lost or the battle is won
By the spirit of the team.
You may think it fine to be praised for skill,
But a greater thing to do
Is to set your mind and set your will
On the goal that's just in view;
It's helping your fellowman to score
When his chances hopeless seem;
Its forgetting self till the game is o're
And fighting for the team
- Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959)