The term “teamwork” is overused and can easily become gobbledygook. Memberships, businesses, schools, and your business all say “Having teamwork helps to create success”.
There is no disagreement that teamwork offers an advantage. Even those who appear to be independent have a team of supporters, trainers, cheerleaders, service providers and generous skeptics. When it comes to talking about teamwork, you will hear “Yes!”
Talking about the concept is certainly a positive step. Singing songs, playing games, and keeping an open door for communication are all good but without a bigger commitment, is mostly fluff.
Entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and intrapreneurs may be worse at teamwork and developing a team than others because of the independent thought, impossible missions and impatience to accomplish the mission. “Good enough today is not good enough tomorrow” is at the top of their mind create success. A team can easily get confused, disheartened, fail and feel left out as yesterday we were going to do “this”, now we are going to do “that”. These leaders also expect others to have the same passion and commitment and soon regress to "I will just do it myself."
In the new world where outsourcing is more common, even if not directly on a company’s payroll, they are still part of the team. Out of sight, these team members can easily be perceived as outsiders. Technology has moved the definition of “team”.
Affiliates, resellers, customers, advocates (aka ambassadors), suppliers and sometimes even those who could be perceived as competitors are now a part of a team. Lines have been blurred as the Internet makes the world smaller and with asynchronous communication, we no longer need to be within the same four walls to move the next mountain together.
After hiring thousands of staff and terminating more than I would like to admit, I prefer to think of “teamwork” as more than another gobbledygook feel-good term where everyone instantly nods and refers to their own reference as to what it means. In fact, because organizations are a bit like snowflakes, I imagine “teamwork” might have a little different spin for each.
To challenge the status quo and responding with just a head nod and shallow agreement that teamwork is important, here are resources to consider for evaluating and strengthening your teamwork:
If someone on a team are sitting in the wrong seat, their attitude and effort will matter very little. A person can be in a leadership position and fail for years. A person who is highly creative can work in an bookkeeping role and never achieve greatness. There is a free version and a paid version.
Lynn Taylor shares his thoughts in this video:
Knowing the Linchpins in an organization changes everything. Those who might be the loudest and most aggressive may not be a Linchpin. Understanding the Linchpins and empowering them to be more awesome opens new possibilities. Do not assume you understand the term “linchpin” until you read the book by Seth Godin. It is priceless.
This is not a deep dive assessment. It is a quick view tool which might act as a compass for your team. If you do not currently have a manpower plan in place which is reviewed every 30 days, then you are likely to find this quick assessment handy.
This teamwork assessment is online and free. You will see a meeting assessment and leadership assessment also available. This is a little more extensive and the questions are good to consider. At the end of the assessment, you will be asked for your name and email address which means the score is not available until you “pay” with contact information. This is GREAT inbound marketing at its best. If you don’t want to be bothered, print out each page and keep the questions handy. The score will not be as valuable as the specific questions.
It provides insights into who an individual is. Before a team can thrive, the talents, skills and personalities of each person must be understood. The Core Value Index shows you which seat someone should be sitting in and this personality test helps you know more about how they will think, feel and act. A team is empowered if the results from their CVIs and this personality test are shared with each other.
Hacking Google for Teamwork Assessment tools
If you Google “free teamwork assessment pdf” and you will find these resources:
Hire a pro:
Progressive Leadership Group
Deneen Grant, SPHR - Leadership Strategist at Progressive Leadership Group
Another approach is to hire an expert. This is an outstanding option if you are ready to accelerate or get unstuck. Contact Deneen Grant here or her website here. Deneen is a pro for an organization of any size.
Kristiina Hiukka has been using these tools for over ten years with great success. While a typical "Team" assessment is an aggregate of individual profiles, the Team Diagnostic™ Systems Approach is to assess the team as a whole.
The Team Diagnostic™ model looks at two dimensions:
The assessment is offered in 22 languages (including Finnish).
Download the Team Diagnostic™ brochure here.
Talk vs Walk:
Yes, teamwork (aka collaboration), is more than important, it is priceless. Ask 100 people in a room if they agree and hands will be raised as a confirmation. As to the importance of teamwork, that is quite another matter. You know manpower and team planning is essential to success but If you are leading a team or organization and depending on fate/chance/luck/faith, you will have surprises and success will be random.
I do not believe there is a “one size fits all” team assessment. Take a look for instance at the Seattle Seahawks. They have broken many of the rules to build a team and yet achieved success.
Many times the top 20% performers will quickly understand that in reality they are the team, and feel as if they carry everyone else. Soon these top performers will find new opportunities and leave an organization. Over time, the bottom 50% stick it out and become the core. They are not unhappy because as each top performer departs, they rise in the organization as “experts” by default, without having any challenge to improve skills, knowledge or results. There does come a time when everyone wishes again for those old days.
This fun video from PIXAR shows how teamwork and togetherness might not be all that it is cracked up to be:
Regardless of which type of organization you have, everyone will agree that teamwork is a foundation for success. The next step might be to either define teamwork and/or do a quick assessment. It will be neither comfortable nor easy but doing something of real value rarely is.