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Teamwork makes the dream work

Teamwork requires some sacrifice up front; people who work as a team have to put the collective needs of the group ahead of their individual interests – Patrick Lencioni

When it comes to projects, the most crucial factor whether or not the project is a success, depends on the team. Failed projects mostly involve teams that cannot cooperate whereas successful projects are done by teams that can really show team spirit. Teamwork as such is essential in getting good results.

However teamwork is not easy and you have to work at it. Most people think it is merely finding the right coworkers or the right environment but it is much more than that. Here are three tips on how to show that you are a good team player or performing in a good team.

Communication

The first sign of good team members is that they continuously communicate with each other and on a personal level. This means real conversations face to face or otherwise on the phone. Bad teams hardly communicate or, even worse, solely via e-mail. That is why the agile manifesto places such importance on face to face conversation.

Communication shows a capability of not only absorbing and understanding information via active listening, but also a capability of clearly conveying complex information. Furthermore, doing this personally shows that you are willing to invest in the relationship. It causes people to understand your motivation and disposition and as such they are willing to deal more with your own peculiarities.

Studies have also shown that most communication is nonverbal. As such the phenomenon of the e-mail sent that was completely misinterpreted can be explained. Without the tone, the pauses, gestures and physical stance much of the message is missing. These things can help the other to better understand the goal and meaning behind the message and therefore make it more likely to accept it.

Honesty

The second sign of a good team is that you can be absolutely honest. As the saying goes there is no I in team and as such it is not about anyone personally, but about the team achieving its goal. A team that is honest does not try to sugarcoat it but simply tells it like it is.

However being honest can really hurt the other persons’ ego and as such investments have to be made so that the other knows that criticism is only meant for improvement. As such, in order to be honest you need to have invested in the relations of your team members. Also a good team spirit with people doing fun things now and then can contribute to this.

Being absolutely honest also can give assurance that you are doing your job well. If you weren’t doing your job well, in an honest environment people would tell you. In political companies you can often see that people keep their opinion to themselves. This provides extra stress because you can almost never freely speak your mind.

Friction

The third and most important sign is that the team displays friction or conflict. I believe that friction within a team can produce better results. The main reason is that when people can successfully overcome the conflict, the relation within the team becomes stronger. When teams can handle conflicts successfully they are capable to overcome their disposition and grow to new heights.

Furthermore teams that show friction also show investment and that they care. If you want your work to mean anything else accept a pay check you should care whether or not you are succeeding. As such, when things go wrong, it hurts and that can lead to friction. This is not a bad but a good thing as long as it is dealt with successfully.

Conclusion

Teamwork is not something you are born to do or that is something you have to find like true love. No, teamwork is hard work and work you have to invest in. Off course some things might be made easier via good management and training but it mostly rests on the willingness and effort of its members.

In short if you want to work in an A-team that does meaningful and important work, you need to put the effort in to make it possible.

Wouter Mertens

Business Manager IT - AP Support

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