Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is There No “I” in “Teamwork”?

“We need to work as a team.” “Let’s do it for the good of the team.” “You aren’t working as a team player.”

Those phrases can be heard around many offices, often during meetings, in the halls, or from the CEO. Another phrase with which everyone is familiar is “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” Teamwork is undoubtedly an important buzzword in the workplace today. As someone who has often had to be a “solo” presence in my work responsibilities, I have really relished the experiences I have had as a part of team atmosphere. My teamwork experiences have been instrumental in providing opportunities for innovation and growth. That said, I would have to dispute that there is no “I” in teamwork. Here is what I mean:
  • On a team, you cannot assume that everyone will leave their personalities behind and work as one. In fact, you do not want that to happen. Everyone has their own “I-ness” to offer, and will bring valuable perspective to the task at hand.
  • Each person on the team should contribute to the project to the best of his/her ability. Each individual should have a part for which they are responsible as an INDIVIDUAL, with an eye to collaboration, cooperation, and compromise. Each person should be held to a standard of how his/her part is accomplished and achieved. If you are not interested in the project, and don’t plan to truly contribute, you should not be part of the team. Teams thrive with open communication, candor, respect, and trust. Someone with a negative attitude with no plans to add in a positive way would be better off somewhere else.
  • Each person is responsible for his/her own part in the final outcome. For example, when a project is being presented or implemented, each team member should support the goal and be responsible for being positive about contributing to and promoting that goal (the teamwork part).