Building Teams and Teamwork

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A tight knit team is a group of competent individuals who care deeply about each other and are fiercely committed to their mission. They are highly motivated to combining their energy and expertise to achieve the common objective. From our observation and studies on building teams, we have found three primary conditions that have to be met in order to attain higher levels of team performance and member satisfaction.

  • Resources and Commitment
  • Ownership and Heart
  • Learning
These three conditions are the heart and soul of teamwork but are not blueprints. Every team is unique, and the requirements and details of its teamwork have to be worked out separately. Let's look closer at condition number two ? Ownership and Heart.


This condition necessary for teamwork to blossom requires that building teams occur from the "inside out." In other words, people have to work hard at developing "team friendly" attitudes, values and beliefs. Teamwork functions best when people believe it from the heart and act or think with integrity and in a way that is aligned with basic team principles. Tightly knit teams are built on attitudes, mindset, and values as much as the policies and systems to support them. At its most basic level the key to unlocking the power of the teamwork "Genie" depends on the willingness of the team members to rub the lamp of responsibility. Stake holders in the team need a passion for personal management to "install" teamwork and to nurture it. The seeds of teamwork have to be planted, cared for, and developed by the members themselves. As we stated before, building teams doesn't come from the outside in, it comes from the inside out.

There is no question that "outside" forces will impact the ease and speed with which teamwork takes hold. But those forces do not control the heart and will of the individuals. Each member is responsible for his/her actions to the group. There are so many people who just don't get the idea of responsibility and yet these same people tell us that they can't remember the last time that they had a serious teamwork experience. Some say that they have never felt the power, energy and enthusiasm that comes from a solid team experience.

All too often organization members are unaware of the level and quality of teamwork that is going on around them. They are too busy competing against each other to think about it much. In any social structure, if people are not willing to take responsibility, get involved or become interested in what is going on, they deserve what little luck gives them. Members forgo their right to complain about the level of morale and the quality of work life when they don't assume responsibility, assist in building teams, and help to foster teamwork.

One of the key challenges today is to teach and empower people to be more proactive at building teams. The primary predators of teamwork are not outside of the team-it isn't top management, it isn't the union or the government, it isn't the weather, or the stock holders. It is the mindset, paradigms, values and beliefs we form as members of a work group. We see a disturbingly large number of people in organizations who play the role of victim to these outside forces and lament about how unfortunate their work situation is, the low level of moral, and what everyone is doing to them.

Once team members form the perception that its problems are being caused by others or circumstances "out there," they tend to over look the real problems. Many have a "teamwork" blind spot and don't see the possibilities and potential that exists when we work as a team. They are too focused on the events beyond their control, don't harness the available potential, and fail to create the culture that they want. A team cannot fulfill its potential and solve problems if issues and concerns are not identified and addressed. When building teams, members will continue to struggle by avoiding the work and thus the rewards that can be achieved through constructive openness. Teamwork can prosper if everyone is willing to give up some of their control needs, let go of the past baggage, break down the fences and silos that becomes what some people refer to as a seamless organization.

With a little more effort and practice, team members will begin to recognize and take control of what goes on within their teams. Team members can determine and control how resources will be managed effectively, how they treat each other, how well they will communicate with each other, whether or not they will speak up in team meeting, the amount of caring and sensitivity they will show to each other, whether they will support the leadership, and display a level of self management.

The level of teamwork, probably more than any other element of organization life, is controlled by the members of the team. Team members can choose to act in skillful and empowered ways or they can be passive and give away responsibility and let the external forces dictate the quality and level of teamwork that will exist.

If you would like more information on building teams, effective teamwork or CMOE's 25 years of team building experience, please contact a Regional Manager toll free at 888-262-2499 or (801) 569-3444.

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