Team Work- Not Just for Sports Teams!

    Paula Fulghum
    Teamwork was something that we heard about all through sports practices, elementary school, and college group projects; however, the concept seems to taper off as we settle into jobs and workplaces where it seems that it becomes “every man for himself”. Teamwork is a valuable tool from Kindergarten to adulthood. As social creatures, humans work well when we work with each other. While many people don’t necessarily like working on a team, the benefits are undeniable. Instilling teamwork in the workplace can help employees to feel more engaged and satisfied, tasks to be performed more efficiently, and companies to be more profitable.When employees are placed in a functional group, it adds additional resources for employees to complete given tasks. A team provides emotional and cognitive support to tasks that may be daunting for one individual to complete alone. When workers can communicate with one another they may feel more engaged and encouraged by their fellow team members. Companies do need to take caution when establishing team building. If a company puts three to five individuals together that have completely polar personality types, it is a recipe for disaster. Employers need to think through their decisions when creating groups so a group has a leader, a communicator, an organizer, and other important roles. Considering how group dynamics will unfold is essential to a successful team. Teams will fail when employees get frustrated at the ‘know it all’ leader or the incompetent fool who does nothing.

    Is it not true that two heads are better than one? Combining various levels of experiences, perspectives, and mental abilities from a few individuals can make innovative thoughts for how to complete a task in the optimal efficient way come together easily through group discussion. Also when tasks are taken on by teams, each component may be done more efficiently if tasks are divvied up. Team members may also check each other on their work to promote accuracy and can catch errors that the person originally working on the task may overlook.

    In terms of profits, some companies may think, why would I want to put five people on one task when I could give them each a task? This may be true on some tasks that are more quickly completed by one person. However, tasks that require creativity, innovative thinking, or multiple components with intensive time commitments may unfold best within group dynamics. It’s also important to remember, that team work doesn’t necessarily mean five or six co-workers sitting in a room all day. Team members can work individually, but still the concept of having a team to go to with questions or ideas establishes a more social environment. Workers feel a sense of belongingness with the company when they have these closer ties with co-workers.

    In companies that have never really used team work, initiating such practices may be difficult. This is a time when it would be beneficial to have team building workshops. There are tons of references online on how to conduct a team building workshop, or a company can bring in a consultant to lead a training session on team building. Bringing in a trained professional on team building can help to make sure your employees understand the components of team work and how to make the practice beneficial. Team building exercises can help employees to learn how to handle group dynamics, how to create and maintain a successful group, and help employees get to know each other in general. Initiating teamwork into the workplace may be a time and cost intensive procedure, but the resulting engaged coworkers that feel connected to their workplace and coworkers, the innovative products from employees, and the profits are definitely worth the cost.

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