Sunday, October 27, 2013


Teamwork is essential to the success of your business. But there's lots more to it than describing your employees as "team members" or using clich├ęs such as "our team is here to help you".

1. First Step: Focus

You must have a specific and well defined business focus and target market. You can't expect your teams to help you if you

  • Don't know exactly "what business you're in"

  • Whom you're trying to sell to.

2. Management Team Dissension

All members of the management team must agree about business focus and target market. Staff will "sniff out" dissension about business goals and markets quicker than you can say "marketing". If management can't agree about business objectives, employees won't bother.

3. Imprecise Expectations

Your teams need to know exactly what you expect of them in four areas:

  • as a team

  • as individual team members

  • as teams operating with other teams

  • as team contributors to business success.

4. Team Rewards

It's good to reward individual staff who perform well. It's even better to reward all members of a high performing team. Do you have team rewards and incentives in place?

5. Personality Conflicts

Do you spend time trying to resolve "personality conflicts" or "interpersonal problems" when you should be concentrating on the source of such problem. It's usually lack of role and goal clarity.

6. Collaboration Clarity

Do you know for sure which teams need to collaborate most closely for business success? Do you stress the need for effective collaboration between those teams?

7. Inter-team System Compatibility

We all know that "if your systems are poor your people will fail". It's essential to have systems in place to enable each team to work well. But it's also essential to have systems in place that enhance effective co-operation between teams.

8. A Culture Of Blaming

Phrases such as "It's not my job", "The girls in the office never get that right", "Salespeople never provide all the details", "we were late because Jack was away ill", are indicative of a blaming culture. Always looking for a scapegoat or an excuse is a reliable indicator of poor teamwork. Do you hear this sort of thing often in your business?

9. Your Role

Are you aware that your role is not only to develop competent and effective individual staff but also competent and effective teams? Do you stress the importance of teamwork and inter-team co-operation? Do you move quickly to defuse inter-team disagreements when they occur?

10. Autonomy

Do you give effective teams freedom to operate under minimal supervision, make recommendations for changes to systems, have direct contact with customers and generally "run their own race" provided that what they do helps achieve business results and benefits the business?


Even with the best of intentions, managers can unwittingly discourage teamwork by failing to do a lot of little things. These things by themselves may not seem vitally important. But together they could distract staff and diminish team effectiveness. If you need a particular starting point I'd suggest that you and your management team have a thorough and detailed chat about items 1 and 2.


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