Teamwork is a skill that is sadly neither taught nor practiced well enough in the modern workplace. Some might argue it isn’t taught well enough to children in school either, which leads to issues in the workplace. This is an odd state of affairs given the obvious and proven benefits of good teamwork and the well understood principles of teaching and practicing it in all areas of life.
Unless you’re dealing with a group of wildly dysfunctional people, it is not difficult to get a group to work together, especially professionals who are being paid to do a job. Teaching teamwork is a combination of knowledge, leadership, basic psychology and will. Once you instill these ideals in your team, you’ll see a drastic improvement.
Anyone who has watched an inspirational film or read a story about one or more characters facing difficult circumstances has likely experienced camaraderie. Those who have participated in any kind of ensemble activity like a team competition has as well. The battle cry of “we’re all in this together” is designed to inspire people to realize they won’t make much progress alone.
Instilling this sensibility in a group of people is the first step towards building a team.
Selfish instincts must be replaced with regard for the people around the individual. The fastest way to make this happen is to identify strengths in each individual and require every person to teach their strengths to the others. This egalitarian approach to leadership forces team members to rely on each other instead of wandering off to look for a solution on their own. Teaching also encourages the natural leaders to step forward.
One needs to only look at the armed forces to see this dynamic in action. A new platoon of recruits is broken down by the drill sergeant and then built back up. The key to the process is the fact they are all experiencing these dynamics together. They get stronger and more capable together. They earn the opportunity to take charge of the barracks, the gear, the weapons and the uniforms. Each recruit gets a chance to lead. This brings camaraderie and leadership together into a powerful mixture.
The measurable result of great teamwork is indisputable. There are decades of stories in team sports, military victories, and even academic settings that prove there are few things more effective in any environment where goals are set and achieved. Teaching teamwork is therefore one of the most generous and powerful things anyone can do.