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Teamwork is the concept of people working together as a team. The concept has spread from the world of sports, where the notion of working together cooperatively as a team is well known and accepted. Critics argue that teamwork has become an empty buzzword, or a form of corporate-speak. However, as people move between roles more frequently or personnel take leave for vacation, medical, maternity/paternity or even sick days and organizations become more sophisticated, there have been increasing efforts through training and cross-training to help people to work together more effectively and to accomplish shared goals. Never leave a colleague or team-member the need to have to guess at something when you are absent for a day, week, or months – that is not considered good teamwork!
“The old structures are being reformed. As organizations seek to become more flexible in the face of rapid environmental change and more responsive to the needs of customers, they are experimenting with new, team-based structures.” (Jackson & Ruderman, 1996) Some things cannot be accomplished by people working individually. Larger, ambitious goals usually require that people work together with other people. Because of this, teamwork has taken its place in most of the organizations today. It should be noted that producing teams is not the goal, but getting results is both the cause and effect of having teams.
A 2003 national representative survey, HOW-FAIR , revealed that Americans think that 'being a team player' was the most important factor in getting ahead in the workplace. This was ranked higher than several factors, including 'merit and performance', 'leadership skills', 'intelligence', 'making money for the organization' and 'long hours'.
The meaning of being a team player has been reevaluated, though, by those that analyze workplace dynamics through the lens of racial, cultural and gender diversity. In this view, evaluating employees on being a team player may sometimes be a shortcut to imposing the default cultural norms. People who behave outside of the implicit and default norms may be perceived to not be team players. Implicit and default norms often includes unwritten, unspoken cultural norms. It is the difference between individuation, maintaining a sense of self and identity in an organization, and losing or dieing to self in the organization.
Skills needed for teamwork
Aside from any required technical proficiency, a wide variety of social skills are desirable for successful teamwork, including:
- Listening - it is important to listen to other people's ideas. When people are allowed to freely express their ideas, these initial ideas will produce other ideas.
- Questioning - it is important to ask questions, interact, and discuss the objectives of the team.
- Persuading - individuals are encouraged to exchange, defend, and then to ultimately rethink their ideas.
- Respecting - it is important to treat others with respect and to support their ideas.
- Helping - it is crucial to help one's coworkers, which is the general theme of teamwork.
- Sharing - it is important to share with the team to create an environment of teamwork.
- Participating - all members of the team are encouraged to participate in the team.
The forming-storming-norming-performing model takes the team through four stages of team development and maps quite well on to many project management life cycle models, such as initiation - definition - planning - realisation.
As teams grow larger, the skills and methods managers must use to create or maintain a spirit of teamwork change. The intimacy of a small group is lost, and the opportunity for misinformation and disruptive rumors grows. Managers find that communication methods that once worked well are impractical with so many people to lead. Specifically, leaders might encounter difficulties based on Daglow's Law of Team Dynamics: "Small teams are informed. Big teams infer." (1)
- ↑ includeonly>"How Opportunities in Workplaces and Fairness Affect Intergroup Relationships (HOW-FAIR)", University of Connecticut and Level Playing Field Institute, 2003.
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