Saturday 19th January 11:02

Teams: Acts of Teamwork

Acts of teamwork are those things which the members of a team do to encourage the interdependence of the team. In teams that are already well-developed and successful, these acts may appear to happen spontaneously and naturally. In teams which are at earlier stages of development, they may need to be consciously applied. Here are 3 important acts of teamwork.

1. Sharing in the Team

Sharing is one of the defining acts of teamwork and something that is uniquely human. A six-month old baby that receives things from its mother will, by the time it is nine months old be handing them back to her as well. Teams become stronger not just when they share goals, information and ideas, but when they share personal things such as feelings, fears, values and needs, as well. Open acts of sharing are the mainstay of good teams. They break down the barriers of defensiveness and tell others that the team is more important than any individual on their own.

2. Valuing Team Members

One of the everyday acts of teamwork that everyone in the team can perform is to value others. Valuing who others are and what they do is one of the best ways to strengthen the team. It doesn't require any skill, just a willingness to do it. Make it a habit to get to know people better. Use their names. Remember personal things about them. Show interest. Don't judge them. Give them strokes of recognition. Listen to them. Accept them for who they are.

Warren Bennis is professor of business administration at the University of Southern California. The campus is in what he describes as a "dry, crack-infested part of LA". But, he says, every morning is a delight because the grounds of the university are kept so green and fresh forming a contrast to the surrounding city. "It makes a big difference to me, but I wonder if anyone has reminded the gardeners of the importance of their work."

3. Asking for Help from Other Team Members

Seeking help from others is an act of teamwork that shows that the team is maturing. Instead of pretending that we know it all, we are honest to admit we don't know everything and need help. We often hesitate to ask for help because we think we should know the answers, or because we fear being rejected. It may also be the culture of the organisation that people are judged on their own abilities and so asking for help is a sign of weakness; only losers need help. That way does not build teams.

One way to encourage mutual reliance is to get each team member to work for a period of time with each other team member in turn. This helps people to appreciate the strengths of others in the team and to learn from them. In larger organisations, people from one function can spend time with people from other functions.

Sharing, valuing each other, and asking for help are important acts of teamwork in teambuilding. As they become the habitual ways in which members of the team work, the team will become stronger, happier, and more productive. 

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