Working Together – why we should do it more
It’s nothing new or particularly innovative, but for some reason I keep seeing people stray from engaging in or seeking out team work. What I mean by team work in the context of my work – change management – is being proactive in working closely with those that directly influence the outcome of a project (transformation or change)… and its success.
Why is team work important?
Although it has its place depending on what you do/where you work, the main benefit of team work is bringing together many different skills and expertise to achieve project objectives and outcomes. This is especially important in projects with many moving parts that require multi-faceted thought, decisions and experience.
If one part of a team delivers on their activities and calls it a day – how is the rest of the project, and the other resources, supposed to proceed? Coordination and planning will help everyone involved understand who is working on what, the importance and priority of a certain activity over another, impacts, risks, dependencies etc. Overall, people gain insight into the broader picture of how the project will be delivered successfully when working together.
Why are people straying?
There are several factors that can lead to the breakdown of a desire to work together, but in my opinion, the biggest barrier is accountability.
People are not necessarily being set up, supported or encouraged – whether in their performance objectives or in their leaders’ values – to seek out the opportunities to work with colleagues in order to deliver more effectively. Often, they may be accountable for their specific and narrow portion of a project, and that will be their sole focus if that is how they are evaluated at the end of the day.
How can we try to get back to team work?
Here are five quick and simple ways to foster working together in today’s environment:
- Lead by example. As a leader or executive, it is your duty to role model behaviours you would like to see in your team members. Work with your colleagues, engage them on decisions and plan as a team.
- Ensure you’re meeting the overall project objectives – not just your own. Even if it won’t be in your evaluation at the end of the day, don’t we all want to see the work we do succeed? If the success of a project is dependent on the culmination of many multi-disciplined teams’ work, find it within yourself to work as a team. All pieces need to jive, not just yours.
- Expand performance objective measures to include team work. If you believe your team members are driven mainly by meeting targets and objectives, incorporate team work elements into evaluations. It can be a simple and quick way to encourage the behaviour (but keep in mind you then need to provide them with the time, tools and support to work with others..).
- Present the facts. Find previous examples of projects that failed when key stakeholders did not work together (I’m sure we can all find these…). Sharing real examples and telling true stories can go a long way to shifting people’s perspectives.
- Try it. At first, it may require reaching out to people you don’t normally work with or going outside your comfort zone, but you will never know how much team work can enrich the work you do until you try it out for yourself.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “2 minds are better than 1”, and in many instances, I truly believe this is true. It’s a saying that transcends time. Now more than ever with technology advances, we are being provided with the tools and space to work together. Why not take advantage – you may be surprised by how much more effective you can be.
Jessica is a business consultant with over ten years of experience working in both public and private sectors. Her ability to understand the clients perspective and aptitude for problem solving has led her to deliver transformational communications, change management, process improvement and performance measurement projects. Jessica is part of Systemscope’s Enterprise Renewal team.