ME TO WE: THE POWER OF EFFECTIVE TEAMWORK
"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." -Michael Jordan
In the 1980 Winter Olympics held in New York, the United States, the underdog U.S. Men's Hockey team, comprising college students and amateur hockey players, defeated the four-time defending gold-medal winning Soviet team. Known as the Miracle on Ice, the world watched in awe as the reigning champions fell to the rookie American team as they skated away with the gold in the Men's Hockey Tournament.
But a year before this unbelievable feat, when coach Herb Brooks decided to organize a group of talented young hockey players to create an Ice Hockey Team for the USA, he had a hard time trying to get them to work together. During the initial practice session, Herb asked the players to introduce themselves as to who they were and who they played for, and he got replies like this:
"I'm Dave, and I play for Boston University."
"I am Mark, and I play for the University of Wisconsin."
On hearing these answers, he sent them on the ice and made them skate till they figured out the correct response. The players skated for hours till one of the players Mike Eruzione, who would later become the captain, stood up and said this:
"My name is Mike….and I play for Team USA."
The players who kept saying that they played for the college now realized that they no longer played individually; instead, they now played as a USA team. And for the very first time, they skated off the ice totally in unison.
This achievement resulted from solid leadership and the subsequent coordination and teamwork between the team members. In today's world, working together in a team forms the foundation of any organization.
TEAMWORK: The Definition
Simply speaking, teamwork is an exercise wherein members of a firm or an organization, set apart their personal differences and collaborate to conquer a common missions or goals. And given the new normal of today- teamwork is possible remotely or in-person.
Nowadays the teams are prominently more diverse and dynamic than those in the yesteryears, with unique talents and competencies that bring with them modern-day struggles as well as progressive opportunities. Therefore, any assignment or venture that requires teamwork also has scope for personal and professional development.
As technology is taking over the modern workplace, being digitally savy in terms of using information and communication technologies is extremely crucial to set path towards a uplifting team environment.
HIERARCHY OF ORGANIZATIONAL TEAMWORK
All organizations are usually divided into three teams – Top Level, Middle Level, Lower Level
The Top Level: This team decides the company's goals as they make policies to maximize profits while understanding society's needs. Moreover, the top-level also works on the development and progress of the company and the employees.
Every company has specific goals in view before making policies. They analyze the objective and collectively decide whether approaching the said goals will be profitable for the stakeholders. For instance, this part of the organization consists of the Board of Directors, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Executive Officers, Etc.
The Middle Level: The mid-level team consists of the managers and the supervisors. This team focuses on the execution of the decisions and policies made by the Top-level management. Furthermore, the team allocates various tasks to the designated employees and divides their responsibility to inspect and oversee their work. To become a part of this team, a person should be knowledgeable and be able to work in harmony with other managers so that there are no clashes of instructions given to the lower level.
The Lower level:, The Lower Level comprises the employees of the firm. They coordinate and work as a team on the tasks assigned to them, achieving each goal in the stipulated deadline so that the organization can function smoothly. The organization's base is the employees who jointly work towards the company's goals, and without their cooperation, the application of any management decision is not possible.
IMPORTANCE OF TEAMWORK
TEAMWORK CREATES A UNIFIED WORKSPACE
An environment that encourages teamwork promotes loyalty and friendship. These relationships motivate the employees to feel responsible towards one another thus inspiring them to be compassionate with each other even outside of work.
Every employee has individual skills, weaknesses, strengths, habits, competencies and skills. Therefore, when working in teams is not promoted, the employees prioritize their own achievements and compete against fellow colleagues, which risks an inefficient and chaotic working environment. Therefore, each person must be motivated to work as a team towards the common goals with coorperation.
TEAMWORK PRESENTS DISTINCT PERSPECTIVES AND ASSESSMENTS
Suitable teamwork frameworks provide organizations with a diverse range of thoughts, creative perspectives, and innovative problem-solving methods. A nurturing environment permits employees to get-together and brainstorm, which increases their problem-solving abilities and helps them reach more efficient solutions.
Powerful teams can also stimulate innovative ideas as communicating with differing opinions and experiences strengthens accountability and can help in optimal decision-making. Team effort can also augment output as diverse strengths and skills come into play to support your work.
TEAMWORK IMPROVES PRODUCTIVITY
Strategies that involve teamwork grant increased productivity because the workload gets shared, reduces individual work pressure, and ensures that the tasks are completed within deadlines. It also improves the performance, makes goals achievable, and improves job satisfaction.
Ultimately, a team working together promotes a more efficient working environment than if a single person is working alone.
TEAMWORK PROVIDES EXCELLENT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Working in a team helps us to learn from one another’s errors. You can avoid certain mistakes, get insight from unique perspectives, learn innovative concepts from experienced team members and expand your knowledge and skillsets.
Employees can discover creative inpits from new team members and thus reach better and quicker solutions towards their assignments. This active involvement encourages innovative problem-solving and generates ideas in a highly productive manner.
FINDING THE RIGHT FORMULA FOR YOUR TEAM
Every team is unique with its own set of skills and challenges. For example, an autocratic person can cause disagreements and frustrations between teammates, thus slowing down momentum and lowering productivity. Well-known organizational behaviorist, J. Richard Hackman suggests that behavioral aspects seldom affect team cohesion; instead, certain encouraging conditions like clear direction, supportive work environments and robust frameworks can act like catalyzers for teams to reach maximum potential.
Additional factors that aid productivity include listening and speaking to each member without any bias or distinction, communicating in informal settings, and being enthusiastic in discussions.
Lastly, to stress the importance of teamwork, a management story from the land of Africa.
An anthropologist proposed a game to some children in an African tribe. He kept a basket full of fruits near a tree and told the kids that whoever ran and got to the tree first wins all the sweet fruits. But when he asked them to run, they all took each others' hands and ran simultaneously to the tree and then sat in a circle to enjoy their treats. When he asked them why they ran together, as the winner could have had all the fruits for himself, to which they replied: "UBUNTU." 'UBUNTU' in the Xhosa culture means: "I am because we are."
No company can grow without teamwork, and no one can truly thrive by being outside the team, and every individual needs the team to succeed for their success too. Therefore it's imperative to work towards the common goals collectively because there's no M.E. without WE.
"INDIVIDUALLY, WE ARE ONE DROP. TOGETHER, WE ARE AN OCEAN." – RYŪNOSUKE SATORO