Updated: Apr 10, 2018
Have you ever wondered how some teams work effectively and some don’t? Why do some relationships flourish and others not? Why do some morph over time into better or worse?
In a simple word, we can answer this with ‘compatibility’. The members of the team must be compatible.
The dictionary says,
Compatibility is a state in which two things are able to exist or occur together without problems or conflict.
Synonyms: like-mindedness, similarity, affinity, closeness, fellow feeling, harmony, rapport, empathy, sympathy.
Can we use these definitions to describe our teams and teamwork?
In their book The Discipline of Teams, Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith explain that not all groups are teams, and that “teams and good performance are inseparable.” We know teams that don’t perform do not exist for long.
Boards, committees and councils are not necessarily teams. Groups do not become teams just because they are in one boardroom and have similar titles.
Friends are not always brothers and brothers not always friends. If friends become brotherly and brothers become friendly, there is a resonance. In this resonance life flourishes, hearts are inspired, wars are won and kingdoms conquered.
Teamwork needs such resonance. There are organically formed teams with natural leaders who remain unmindful of their position; these teams thrive while enjoying the process of collaboration. In this sort of environment, a team is effective, adding value to what it produces, and there is a collaborative flow among the members. Because of this type of flow, the outcomes are good consistently. Good teams will develop direction, momentum and efficiency towards achieving their any goal. Teamwork, like work, brings joy and fulfillment when we love what we do, and learn how to do it better and better. Then we create a larger flow and we thrive in that environment. Productivity and prosperity abound. Our spirits flourish and joy expands.
In order for a group to function as a team, its formation is critical. Formation includes persons, values and mutual understanding. This produces a level of maturity, ease and synergy. Those teams that form naturally and those that are engineered can both be high-performance teams if we know and respect the elements of a good team.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. —Helen Keller
While most of this seems commonsensical, we often lament the lack of teamwork in most groups. Why? We need to study how good teams are formed, as individuals, managers and organizational leaders.
Katzenbach and Smith write, “Teamwork represents a set of values that encourage listening and responding constructively to views expressed by others, giving others the benefit of the doubt, providing support and recognizing the interests and achievements of others. Such values help teams to perform, and they also promote individual performance as well as the performance of an entire organization.”
Teams produce collective work and products. In teams, authority and accountability are shared. A team is not an environment of control, power, concentration and inequality. It does not include haves and have-nots. Individuals in teams possess complementary skills, and teams need this diversity. It is vital for their performance.
A good team flourishes when its members enjoy creative freedom, imbibe discipline of collaboration and coordination, learn constantly and improve their skills continuously as they complement each other towards a united mission or purpose. And a good team will fizzle out if this complementarity is devoid of freedom, skills development and continuous improvement.
There are plenty of causes for which to work. There are plenty of teams that are needed to embrace those causes. So, if we are not able to be part of such a team, it is more productive to sleep under a neem tree and enjoy life.
Article written by Victor Kannan. Originally published in Heartfulness Magazine.