Defining the Team in Teamwork

We’d all like to believe we can do it on our own, be in charge, get it right, or not have to ask for help but that is rarely the case. Connecting and working with others means the end result will be far more exceptional than what we could have delivered solo. In addition, we grow as people by being on a team, both them and us. We learn from them and they from us.

If you are responsible for building or leading a team, how do you choose who serves on that team?  In thinking about who’s right for the team, what do you look for?

Here are the things I believe define a good fit:

  • Values – should be shared by the individual, the organization and the team members. Values are the foundation from which the policies, procedures, conduct and culture originate. Team values such as integrity, respect and accountability build a sense of unity and serve to build the all-important trust. Values must align with purpose, mission and actions from the top down. You can’t work well with a company or colleagues who don’t share your values. If you’re unclear on your values, get a coach.
  • Attitude – attitudes are highly contagious in a team environment, that’s why there is no room for a bad attitude. Staying positive and holding each other accountable for this positivity is critical – no gossiping and no negativity.
  • Skills – are often the focus when a person is being interviewed for a new position, but I maintain that values and attitude are as or more important than skills. Skills can be learned, values are ingrained in us from an early age and are actually apart of our very being. Attitude is a mental mind-set, a way of looking at the world and our place in that world. If one is always justifying, making excuses, complaining, staying behind the desk or can’t embrace change when change is needed, is that someone you want to spend time with? When the going gets tough, and it will, will they have your back?
  • Leadership – the team has a leader who must model the values, attitude and performance necessary for the desired outcomes.  Most likely every team member also leads another team of direct reports. Each and every leader must lead not just manage, walk the talk, set the proper example, make sure his or her people have what they need to do the job, know what the expectations are, the priorities are and then offer them respectful and timely feedback on a regular basis.
  • Inside and outside the box – choose team members who can function well in both. Leaders and team members must be willing to get outside the box to see the big picture, make changes, take risks and stay current with today’s challenges. Yet there are times when you want to stay inside your box, be focused and clear in order to get the job done. A good balance is needed and usually people are far more comfortable with one than the other.
  • Cross training – is the person able to take over for other team members when necessary? Are they willing to learn all aspects of a project not only to understand it better but to be able to rotate, or move up when necessary? I’m not saying an engineer needs to take over for a doctor, but within the same range of specialty can they rotate and support?  Perhaps the hardest jump within an organization is to move from individual contributor to manager. Cross training, rotating, learning management skills, taking on leadership roles, even making lateral moves within the company is great experience and makes one a more valuable team player. When you choose someone for your team, what cross training do they bring with the table?
  • Success mind-set – does this person strategize and plan for success yet still address the ‘what-ifs’ before they occur? What evidence will support this? The Blue Angels have a saying, “Procedures are written in blood” and rightly so with the risks they take, nose-to-nose at 1000 mph and only inches apart. They understand that failure is not an option. As the old saying goes, are you failing to plan or planning to fail? I hope neither, I hope you are planning to succeed!
  • Maintenance –  balance and maintenance are critically important. Having a fully engaged physical body, a mentally alert mind and a healthy emotional intelligence means one must take breaks, sleep well, eat good food for energy and exercise. In addition one benefits from continued learning. Taking time to read, study and research your areas of interest will not only stimulate your mind, but make you a  more interesting person. A good life also means having love and meaning, whether that’s through family, faith, animals, or community and friends. Meaning goes above and beyond work regardless of how much you might love that work. Meaning ties back into values. Whether you like it or not you do bring the whole person to the workplace so keeping the whole, whole is important. And having a team you enjoy greeting each day is a definite plus.

If you’re on a team, what are your responsibilities to that team and to your organization? How do you know you can trust the other team members? How do they know they can trust you? How do you support your team? What do you need from them? Does the team come first in your mind? What is your mind set, your attitude? Do you have meaning in your life? If you were choosing a new team, what would you look for? Giving some thought to these questions now will help you get in touch with what you see as important and may even help you see your team members through new eyes.

~ by transformativethoughts on February 22, 2012.

One Response to “Defining the Team in Teamwork”

  1. That about sums ups everything! 🙂

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