The TeamThat resonates with me. It says to me -- put the overall objective, those around you, and what the collective is trying to achieve, above your wants and desires.
I’m kind of a loner. I would say my default state is to be on my own. I enjoy being alone. However, I can’t stop preaching about teamwork and being a contributing member of said team. If you were to hang out in my office, I probably reference teamwork at least once a day, if not more. I have a red San Francisco 49er towel hanging in my office. The towel has a catchphrase from former coach Jim Harbaugh, “THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM.” That resonates with me. It says to me — put the overall objective, those around you, and what the collective is trying to achieve, above your wants and desires.
Being in a group might not be my natural state but being part of a team is insanely important to me. There are just so many advantages that arise when an effective team environment exists.
Before we get into the advantages or benefits of teamwork, there’s a precursor to any healthy team environment, buy-in. We want the team to thrive, but the team is made up of individuals. Each one of those people has their own wants, desires, needs, ambitions, and goals. The most critical element of having buy-in to the value of teamwork is compromise.
But compromise doesn’t feel like a meritocracy. Compromise sounds more like giving up your wants. The reality is that for a real team structure to take place everyone needs to believe that sometimes he or she will give, and sometimes they will ask; sometimes they will offer, and sometimes they will be offered. There needs to be an underlying belief system that high tide will raise all ships. Oddly enough, if you follow the trajectory of this thought process, the selfish thing to do is to be selfless. That is at the heart of what I believe.
Very often people think in binary terms – if I am losing, then someone else is winning. This flies in the face of a team environment, everyone on the team, from the top all the way to the bottom needs to understand and more so believe the game is NOT a zero-sum game, but one entrenched in abundance rather than scarcity.
Caution at the Top
A piece of caution: if the leader/management/owner is not a team player, this falls apart before you even get started. The tone at the top sets the baseline for the rest of the group/department/company. If those charged with leadership don’t participate and actively advocate for teamwork, you can forget having the subordinate team working functionally.
Maybe I’ll write about how to gain buy-in in the future, but for now, let’s me sell you on why I like a healthy team environment.
Diversity of Thought
Being able to express new ideas without fear of being struck down, or having that idea “stolen” lends itself to innovation. This doesn’t necessarily mean research and development; it’s broader. The group learning and openness garners steam and helps find creative ways to solve everyday hurdles in an organization.
Knowing that your team is there to hold down the fort, will allow for some healthy risk-taking. Obviously, if you have a group of mavericks, this might backfire! However, that rare anomaly aside, if your team members think they aren’t in it alone, it might allow them to take a chance that they otherwise would never attempt, and in doing so, could open up new and exciting doors. A failure, in this case, doesn’t sink the individual, because the team will be there to help boost them back.
Competition (Focused Accordingly)
A strong team can refocus inward competition to the outside world. In a very individualistic setup, competition amongst peers may take more time and energy than actually winning on the street against the real competition. Eliminating adversaries within your walls develops a sense of cohesion, and perhaps in the right circumstance, builds up ownership and accountability of the organization as a whole.
That group ownership is often played out on the battlefields of customer service. If everyone is in it together, and every win is a team win, and every loss is a team loss, then naturally customer service becomes everyone’s responsibility.
A nice side effect of having a strong team is that once word gets that kind of positive environment draws talented people. And who doesn’t want talented people?
Bend And Don’t be Afraid to Bend
A big underlying theme with all of the concepts described above works because a real team will ultimately become flexible and resilient. Flexibility in all its senses (e.g., staffing, procedures, policies) allows an organization to be more like a speedboat versus an aircraft carrier. When a new challenge arises, a flexible team is prepared to quickly go around, over, under, or straight through.
These might be perfect world concepts, and they don’t always play out as planned, but it is what I strive for each day at Erika Record. The goal is to build a cohesive unit, where every individual understands and accepts that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and because of that our success is your success.
Thanks for reading,