To my understanding, there is a huge difference between a work team, and teamwork. The first and most clear difference is a matter of plain language. Try writing together “workteam”, and you will misspell, they cannot go together, while teamwork can. When I think of perfect teamwork, Barcelona FC comes to my mind, and probably to a lot of you.
No, I am not trying to teach English or anything, I am just trying to prove a point. When it comes down to work as a team, the most important thing is to actually become one entity, one that together and in a compact way has all the variables needed to succeed. In team sports, generally we have the offensive and the defensive guys, all led by a mastermind, the head coach or manager. If the team is weak in defense, even if they have a great offense, chances are that they will have to put more pressure on their offense, causing burnout and probably failing. If the team is great in defense, but can’t score, they put more pressure on the defense, because they have no room for mistakes. The same goes for business, you may be very good in manufacturing and production, but if your marketing skills are failing, no one will know about your product and therefore you will have no sales. You have good sales skills but don’t have a powerful product, no R&D, and you are cooked. So, for that, I’d like to share a few insights of what, to me, takes to form a great team.
Share the knowledge
Do not keep knowledge to yourself; be unselfish, because at the end of the day, you are only as strong as your weakest link. When it comes to sports, mentorship occurs naturally, more experienced player’s influence in youngsters and make sure that they succeed to make the team better. When creating teamwork in businesses, it is very important that transparency occurs, share all of the knowledge that you can with your team, the more experienced, smarter they are, the better your business will go.
Forget about the routine
Although it is true that practice makes perfection, practice does not build team spirit. Get creative, dedicate time to your team, and open a space for your team to question everything. Try new ways of managing your team, do something together off the court, whatever it is, do not fall into complacency. When I say off the court I also mean outside the office. NBA teams have the NBA Cares program that invites players to help people that need it the most, and that creates a bond among players, a common theme. In my short experience, I have found that demanding or giving an order works, and you will have 100% attendance of the people, but most likely you will have 5-10% interest, when you invite and persuade, you might have 5-10% attendance, but you will have 100% interest, and chances are that attendance will increase along with interest. Remember, you are dealing with people, just like you. The methods and techniques used by Pep Guardiola to make Barcelona the team it is, are often questioned, yet respected, for example in 2009 Champions final when he showed his team a comparison video of them to gladiators, to motivate them, and ended up winning 2-0.
Manage wherever you are
You may be the coach, you may be the power forward, you may be the “boss” (although I don’t personally like that word) or you may be a subordinate, but that doesn’t mean that you are excused from managing. You can manage down, up or sideways. The reason I don’t like the word boss, is because a boss is a title very easily earned, and it depicts imposition and hierarchical superiority. I rather use the term leader, to earn a leader tag is hard work, a boss makes people follow, a leader is followed by people because of what they do, and I could go on and on about the differences, but I think you get my point. Getting back to the point, management is just as much as doing, as listening, if you don’t know the people you are working with, don’t expect to be able to manage. To my point of view, there is not such a thing as an “unmanageable” person, there is however a place for bad managers, and great managers. If you think that you are a bad manager, do not hesitate, you can learn and do better, if you think that you are a good manager, think again, and learn again, it is not an easy skill to master, but once you have it all sorted out, it will pay off (this I can guarantee).
Make your vision clear as water
Make sure that everyone knows your vision and how is everyone accomplishing to get there. This I believe is very important, if your subordinates can’t read where are you going, that’s the direction that they will be working… the “I don’t know” direction. When your team is focused on understanding and executing your goal, and believes in you, chances are they will succeed.
After all, it is all about the team, if one member of the team is disengaged, he / she can become a cancer to the team and bring all of the morale down. When your team is highly motivated and engaged, there is not much that you can’t do. Be a team player, encourage teamwork, no only be part of a work team.