Goal! Goal! G—–o—–a—-l!

Lately, I’ve had a lot of inquiries about about teamwork. Specifically, people are asking about how to build teamwork.

My first question is always the same, “What do you want your team to do?” The answer is almost almost always the same too, “Well, we’d like to have people work together better. You know, better cooperation between employees.” For a team building goal to succeed, it needs to be clearer, more defined. People are thrown when I tell them that. They think “better cooperation” is a good enough definition of what they want to achieve. That’s not enough to start a team building effort as any coach will tell you.

Things like “cooperation” and “getting along” are products, not goals, of successful team building. The coach of the Super Bowl’s winning team never set a goal of having the players get along. Getting along won’t put points on the board.

The goal for all businesses is to make profits. Everything the business does, outside of charity work, is supposed to contribute to profit. We have lost sight of that in recent years by thinking too far outside of the proverbial box. Many managers think all positive actions automatically contribute to the bottom line if we just think outside the box. If all the employees are happier, they will automatically be more productive and the business will profit.

This year many businesses will lay off happy employees. The ones remaining won’t be as happy after their friends are “let go”.

If employees don’t cooperate with each other without fear of making a mistake or losing “credit” for their work, you have a problem. If employees don’t get along well now, you have a problem.

Those problems need to be fixed, and can be fixed, before you start team building. Failure to understand this is why so many teams fail. Those underlying problems will eventually surface taking your team apart in the process.

If the issues are corrected first, the team will succeed at actually enhancing productivity and, therefore, profitability. That’s the real benefit of a team. A team can pull a lot larger load in less time than a group of individuals. Teams need focus. When all the members understand the goal and all issues have been fixed, the team will move mountains for your business.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
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