“Teamwork makes the dream work!”
“There’s no I in TEAM.”
“TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More.”
We’ve all heard the corny sayings, but let’s face it. None of them actually tell you how to make a TEAM-WORK.
In this post, I’m going to share with you some actionable strategies to increase teamwork and collaboration with anyone you work with. And these strategies work for personal relationships too!
What is Teamwork?
As I said in the intro, we’ve all heard the corny quotes and sayings about the importance of teamwork. But none of them actually tell you how to make a team work and get the most from your efforts.
So let’s start by defining what is teamwork. Here are some common definitions from around the web:
But here’s a plain and simple one that I like most that’s super easy to remember:
Teamwork is the cooperative effort of a team of people for a common end.
Teamwork is a team of people, working cooperatively together, for a goal they all share in common. You can’t simply “improve teamwork” for the sake of teamwork alone. Teamwork cannot exist out of working to accomplish “something” that is important to all team members involve
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Why is Teamwork Important?
So then, why is teamwork important in the first place? Couldn’t we just all work on our own?
Well yes, you could. But if increasing revenue, engaging your employees, and growing your company are important to you —then teamwork should be important too.
In today’s age, collaboration and teamwork has become the backbone of business success. Today’s corporations must adapt to working with different people from different backgrounds with different skill-sets. If they don’t, they’ll sink. Teamwork is the only effective path to success.
Why? Because one mind alone cannot create solutions to the kinds of large-scale problems that today’s companies are facing. Technology and globalization have made for an ever-changing landscape. It requires constant collaboration and teamwork to succeed.
Here are some reasons why teamwork is beneficial to your organization:
Reason #1: Collaboration Breeds Innovation
This what happens when members of a team are able to effectively work together on a common goal. The diversity of skills, experience and background can come up with ideas no one would’ve thought of on their own.
Reason #2: Teams Work Faster
When teams work together, they can complete tasks faster. Working alone, you may get stuck with a troubling problem or overwhelmed with an enormous workload. But with a team, you’ll have someone to share the workload. As well as a wider range of skills, perspectives and experiences to draw from. This will help when making decisions and putting together a plan of action.
Reason #3: Effective Teams Are More Productive
When an entire team is working together on a project, they will be able to accomplish far more than each individual working on their own. This is the concept of Synergy that I’ll explain later in the video.
But most importantly, effective teamwork is the main way you keep all the team members engaged . When your employees come to work, you want them to have stimulating conversation and collaboration. Then they’ll be more engaged in accomplishing your organizations goals.
What Causes a Lack of Teamwork?
We’ve all had the experience of a situation where the teamwork fell far short of the ideal. Maybe it was a group project at school or team sports where everyone lost. Maybe you volunteered for something and ending up doing all the work. Or maybe your team at work missed a key deadline or failed to meet an important goal.
Regardless of the situation, all these outcomes are symptoms of ineffective teamwork. When teams don’t work well together, it can be a major drain of everyone on the team. No one on the team feels heard or understood. Communication roadblocks prevented any good and useful ideas from actually being realized. And the team’s efforts fizzled because of a lack of consistent and united effort.
Poor teamwork usually happens for one of three reasons:
- Poor Communication
- Personal Agendas
- Weak Leadership
Now let’s go over each of them one by one.
Reason #1: Poor Communication
When the team members aren’t encouraged to communicate with each other, the transfer of ideas shuts down. Instead of contributing important thoughts and ideas, people will close down, keep to themselves and disengage.
Reason #2: Personal Agendas
When team members get pulled away in different directions, the common team goal becomes harder to achieve. Projects start to take longer, deadlines get missed, and the entire venture gets put at risk.
Reason #3: Weak Leadership
Effective teamwork starts at the top. Good leadership influences all other levels of an organization. It helps to ensure the smooth functioning of individual teams. Both when working on their own and working together. When the person in charge lacks a clear direction of where to go, the team is doomed from the start.
Now that you know what teamwork is, why teamwork is important, and what happens when you have a lack of teamwork, here are some difficult questions we face:
- How can you come up with ideas to promote teamwork in your organization?
- How do you inspire individual team members to set their personal goals aside for the benefit of the team?
- How can you foster a spirit of teamwork and collaboration within your company?
Have You Experienced Good Teamwork? Or Bad Teamwork?
I’ve got some possible answers to those questions. We’ll get to those in just a bit.
But right now, I want to ask you if you’ve ever been in a situation where there was a lack of teamwork? How did it make you feel? What was causing it and what was the end result? Share down in the comments below. I want to hear your stories.
Also, have you ever been in a situation where there was amazing teamwork and collaboration? How did you feel then? Did you feel engaged and excited about working on the project? What was the one thing you thought made the team run so smoothly?
Share those comments as well. I want you guys to see the difference between the two experiences and what makes for good and bad teams.
What is Synergy? How Does it Help Teamwork?
So now that you know what good teamwork is and why it’s important for you to have it, how do you get it? How to you encourage effective teamwork in the workplace.
I have one word for you: Synergy.
Synergy is the cooperation between two or more people to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of it’s parts. Essentially, it means one plus one equals three. Or three hundred.
When your team has synergy, it can achieve far more with everyone working together than they could working alone. In essence, “two heads are better than one.”
And I know what you may be thinking… “Well gee, that sure sounds great Wes, but what does it really mean? What is synergy and how do you get it?” It’s kind of like those corny teamwork quotes from earlier. They don’t tell you much about the subject at all.
The best example I know to help you understand the concept of synergy is music.
In a piece of music, the individual rhythms, melodies and harmonies combine together. They create a beautiful song that didn’t exist before.
Take a moment to imagine one of your favorite songs playing in your head right now. Or a song you heard on the radio recently. Hear all the different instruments playing together. Play it for a minute out loud if you can to emphasize the point.
Now, imagine what the song would sound like if you were to remove one of the instruments. Take out the drums. Remove the guitar, horns or piano. It wouldn’t be the same piece of music would it?
To create that song, every individual musician and instrument had to work together. And without any one of them participating, it just isn’t the same.
How to Create Synergy and Increase Teamwork
So now that you understand the importance of having synergy when working as a team, how do you actually get it? What do you need to do get more synergy in business and teams?
Here are three steps to creating synergy in the workplace:
- Promote Teamwork
- Encourage Communication
- Open Discussion
Now let’s go over each of them one-by-one.
Step #1 — Promote Teamwork
Here’s one of the most effective ways to promote a spirit of teamwork and cooperation in an organization. You must ensure that individual agendas don’t take over the team’s goals. Sometimes certain members of the team can get too focused on a personal goal. They’ll inhibit another members contributions and diminish the effectiveness of the team.
Remember that a team starts with the individual. And one bad apple can ruin a whole bunch. No team in the world will succeed if it’s composed of members who all have a “me first” attitude. It’s important that everyone is able to keep their egos in check. They must shift their focus from personal agendas to team objectives. Everyone must be working toward a common goal, not just their own goal.
And here’s a great example of this from real life. From 2002 to 2020, the New England Patriots Football team won a total of six superbowls. They had a stretch of 8 years where they won more than 70% of their games. And in 2007 they almost had a perfect record of 19-0, but lost in the superbowl that year.
What was the key to their success? Here’s a quote from former Patriots Executive Scot Pioli:
Everyone on the team was focused on one thing. Winning. It didn’t matter who scored the touchdowns or who got the glory in the press. All that mattered was winning. And the entire organization understood the importance of subordinating individual agendas to team goals. and they crushed the competition because of it and achieved amazing results.
Step #2 — Encourage Communication
In order for synergy to be achieved, each member of your team must feel safe in sharing their ideas, viewpoints and feelings. They have to be encouraged to communicate the truth and seek to understand each other. You need to create a space space for ideas and opinions to be shared.
Effective teamwork only happens when the team members feel like they can speak openly and honestly. They need to feel like they can share their ideas and opinions without getting shot down or ridiculed. They need to feel free to make suggestions, voice their opinions and build upon the ideas of others. That’s a must-have for synergy to develop.
One of the best ways to do this is to encourage feedback from everyone. Too often people are scared of feedback and take it too personally. But for your organization to have synergy, you need to welcome feedback with open arms. You need to teach your team members to embrace feedback face-to-face and give it a big ol’ hug.
The best way to do this is by first demonstrating how to give feedback yourself. Give constructive criticism on what other people share. Provide pointers to make ideas better, or even give tips on how other team members can contribute more effectively.
Then encourage others to do the same. Have everyone leave their egos at the door and be open to giving and receiving meaningful feedback. This helps you to create a workplace culture where everyone feels valued and part of the team. And that creates synergy.
Step #3 — Open Discussion
The last step to achieving synergy is to hold regular open discussion. Each member of the team must be given the floor regularly to share their ideas and opinions. This creates frequent and effective communication between the individual members. It also helps keep everyone on the same page in achieving the company’s goals. You should attempt to hold this kind of open discussion with all the team members no less than once per week.
But not only that, you should have an open door policy as well. You need the members to feel like they’re able to share problems or positive developments with you at any time. Even if it’s simply through an anonymous suggestion box. This is how you keep your finger on the pulse of your company’s progress toward its goals.
You can do this by encouraging questions and suggestions from your team during meetings. And always be sure to respond positively and listen to everyone who speaks. Even if the idea or suggestion is a bad one, don’t shoot it down and ignore them. Explain the reasons why it can’t be implemented into your organization. And give the person positive feedback for being brave enough to suggest it.
Synergy Exercises to Increase Teamwork
Here are some exercises you can do on your own. They will increase the level of teamwork, cooperation and synergy in your most important relationships.
Teamwork Exercise #1 — Value the Differences
Think of someone in your life who typically sees things differently than you do. Maybe they have different skills, experience or background than you do. Maybe you work in the design department focused outward visuals and work from the heart. And the other person works in the behind-the-scenes development with nuts and bolts and always leads from the mind.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How could you learn to value the differences between the two of you?
- What strengths do they have that complement your weaknesses?
- How might the differences between you create win-win situations and mutually beneficial decisions?
- What would happen if the next time you saw them you made it your goal to understand them?
- What if you focused on their interests, position and opinion?
- How might you two work together more cooperatively if you did that?
Please share your answers below. It’ll help all the viewers to hear real life stories and examples of situations where teamwork is more challenging. And we can all offer each other some suggestions on how to get more cooperation and collaboration.
Teamwork Exercise #2 — Identify Synergy Preconditions
Identify a relationship in your life where you desire more synergy. It could be personal or professional.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What conditions would need to exist in the relationship to support more teamwork and cooperation?
- What could you do to create those conditions?
- How could you promote an atmosphere of teamwork, communication and open discussion?
If you’re having a hard time with a troubling relationship, share down in the comments below. Myself and the others will take a look at it and see if we can help you figure it out. We’ll try to work together is solve the problem in a mutually beneficial way to create a win-win situation for you. So please comment below!
Where to Learn More About Synergy and Teamwork
If you’ve enjoyed the content in this post, you’ll probably also like the rest of the my series on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I did a full two-hour long audiobook style summary and review of the book. And there’s a playlist with other topics from the book as well. View them at the links below:
7 Habits of Highly Effective People Audiobook, Summary & Review:
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