The best definition of effective teamwork is “a group of people who work together cohesively, toward a common goal, creating a positive working atmosphere and who support each other to combine individual strengths to enhance team performance.”
Understanding and identifying team roles is important for successful teamwork: team members need to value and respect each type of individual and role.
Team members who are action-oriented are more focused on tasks than people, have a lot of ‘drive’ and like to see results. They are good at turning ideas into action and deliver on time.
Team members who are people-oriented include co-ordinators and team workers. Co-ordinators are confident and clear about goals. They are good at delegating activities, motivating and involving people. They promote effective decision-making. Team workers are co-operative, diplomatic and ‘mild-mannered’. They listen to others’ opinions, try to avoid conflict and seek harmony in the team.
Team members who are ideas-oriented are creative and imaginative. They are bored by routines and do not always ‘play by the rules’. They have a different way of looking at things and are good at solving difficult problems.
All these team ‘roles’ are necessary for effective teamwork and each team member must value the skills and strengths of the others.
Team members need to be able to communicate clearly and explain their own ideas as well as listen carefully to others, ask questions to clarify others’ ideas and emotions and be sensitive to non-verbal communication.
Effective teamwork requires:
- Open communication where members feel free, and are encouraged, to express their ideas and to disagree constructively
- Mutual respect for the contribution of other team members
- Active listening
- Co-operation and blending of each others’ strengths
- Placing group goals above personal satisfaction and/or recognition
- Sharing of information and ideas
- Identifying conflicts and obstacles to success and resolving problems co-operatively as they occur
- Building consensus and facilitating group discussion
The overall goal is achieving a “win-win” solution which achieves the objectives of the team.
The expression ‘esprit de corps’ is a perfect phrase for teamwork; it means the co-operative spirit of a group whose members want to succeed and who are invested in the direction taken and results achieved collectively.