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Why Your Teamwork Doesn’t Work … And How To Improve It

 Vartika KashyapVartika Kashyap
June 11, 2019
12 min read
Why Your Teamwork Doesn't Work ... And How To Improve It
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Teamwork … it will make your dream work.”

Every time one sees such corny quotes floating around on the internet, it appears that teamwork is the ultimate competitive advantage. Doesn’t it?

teamwork is the ultimate competitive advantage

Source: https://media.giphy.com/media/3o6gDVhw6aUFaHteFi/giphy.gif

However, as it turns out, we, as humans, are not naturally wired to blend together nicely. Anyone who has ever worked on team-based projects will vouch for the fact that teamwork is actually a lot of WORK. It’s not obvious and it certainly doesn’t come naturally.

All too commonly, we’ve seen teams fail to accomplish their goals. In a recent study, it’s been concluded that even the most high-performing people underperform when they’re forced to work together as a team. Why? Well, partly because they keep squabbling about who gets to be the “bigwig” instead of working harder as team players. And partly because they’re not being completely honest and transparent in terms of sharing critical information.

Clearly, teamwork isn’t working for every team. And if everyone in a team is more concerned about becoming a lone superstar, what hope is there for the organization?

Why we’re not so good at teamwork

Why we're not so good at teamwork

In an interview posted on Harvard Business Review, J. Richard Hackman, Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University reveals how and why teams often suck at teamwork.

“I have no question that when you have a team, the possibility exists that it will generate magic, producing something extraordinary, a collective creation of previously unimagined quality or beauty. But don’t count on it.”

In the course of his discussion, he says that teams underperform, despite all the extra resources they have. He goes on to state that lack of coordination and motivation typically chip away at whatever benefits there are in collaboration.

Here’s a clear picture.

As a part of a team, here are the many advantages people have:

  • Greater diversity – as they share more resources that they would have had individually.
  • Opportunity for flexibility – as they have the option to be more flexible in deploying resources to achieve a specific goal in time.
  • Collective learning – as they have the opportunity to learn something new via collaboration and social interactions while working on shared tasks or projects.
  • Potential for synergy – this is basically that moment when everything works as planned and effective teamwork leads to ultimate success.

But yet, most of the times, people can’t even agree to what they’re supposed to be doing as a team in the first place. Their performance as a team is often far worse than how they perform individually. In all, Hackman implies that having a team is often worse than having no team at all.

The question is – Why?

Patrick Lencioni, the author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, suggests that there are five major reasons for the failure of teamwork (and teams) in the workplace:

  1. Absence of trust

    Lack of comfort and trust among teams creates a workplace environment where team members are unwilling to seek support, admit weaknesses, or ask for assistance from one another. And with that outcome, communication and teamwork are just not possible.

  2. Fear of conflicts

    When teams are lacking trust, they’re incapable of engaging in an unaltered, passionate debate without the fear of conflict. It creates situations where team members do not openly share their ideas and opinions, resulting in inferior decisions and unsettling outcomes.

  3. Lack of commitment

    When a person acts like he/she isn’t committed to the work they’ve been assigned, their behavior shows an impact on the entire team. This makes it extremely difficult for teams to commit to decisions, fostering an environment with lack of direction and particularly disengaged and dissatisfied employees.

  4. Avoidance of accountability

    Team dysfunction – that moment when team members are no longer willing to hold themselves accountable for their work. When a team member fails to commit to a specific plan and is hesitant to hold accountability for his/her actions, counterproductive and inefficient outcome are certain.

  5. Inattention to results

    When individuals are too concerned about their personal goals, they tend to show a lack of attention to team goals. They put their own development and recognition ahead of the collective interests of the team, thereby losing sight of what needs to be done and letting the team sufferer.

So how do we get rid of these complications? How can we make teams think about teamwork differently? How can we celebrate the power of working together, aka #PowerOfWe?

Some people fail at teamwork but not you. Time to make teamwork work with ProofHub!

The T7 model of team effectiveness: Seven factors of successful teams

The Korn/Ferry T7 Model is one of the most comprehensive assessments of team effectiveness in the literature. Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger crafted the model in 1995 with the goal of providing a better, clearer understanding of the factors that contribute to team effectiveness in the workplace. The idea was simple – you can’t simply achieve team effectiveness without knowing the causes of team dysfunction. So here’s all you need to know to ensure your team’s success.

In T7 model of team effectiveness, Lombardo and Eichinger highlight the five common internal factors that can highly impact team effectiveness in the workplace. These internal factors include:

  • Thrust: Team members have a common team goal and are committed to achieving that goal as a team.
  • Trust: Everyone has confidence in their fellow team members. They trust that their teammates have good intentions and are committed to the goal.
  • Talent: Employees have the needed skills and resources to deliver effective team performance and the best possible outcome.
  • Teaming skills: The entire team practices effective teamwork and has excellent problem-solving and decision-making skills.
  • Task skills: Team members have the ability to be consistent and ensure timely execution of tasks.

All five internal factors have to be present for team success. However, one cannot expect teams to be high-performing without the necessary organizational and leadership support. No matter how good a team is in terms of the above five internal factors (thrust, trust, talent, teaming skills, and task skills), a team must get the needed support from the organization and the leadership to be effective. That being said, here the two external factors that need to be active too for a team to reach maximum effectiveness:

  • Team leader fit: The team leader believes in the team and works for the greater good of the team as well as the organization’s goal? He/she practices a more collaborative approach rather than acting like a dictator in the workplace.
  • Team support from the organization: Teams get all the needed support at the right time across all levels of the organization. Plus, they are provided with the resources they need to reach their goals in time.

A strong team becomes successful when each member learns to work together. They learn to work with clear goals. They establish trust and respect for one another. They ensure communication is both often and open. They receive much-needed support from wider organization and leadership. That is how a team drives success in an organization.

The T7 Model provides a basic framework by which you can analyze the current operations and effectiveness of a team. It enables you to systematically understand how the team and each team member functions and then improve the overall chemistry, cohesiveness, and productivity of the team.

Are you ready to equip your team for success? Don’t forget to find the right tool

Tuckman’s FSNP model, the GRPI model, the LaFasto and Larson model, or the T7 model of team effectiveness regardless of the model you choose, the right tools and technology can make it easier for everyone to embrace teamwork.

Fortunately, a lot of workplace communication has gone online. Online discussion boards, video conferencing and one-on-one team chats have become a replacement for endless emails and talking to colleagues at their desk. There are apps and tools that can help teams make decisions quickly on the go, build a strong understanding within the team and increase the overall likelihood of the team’s success.

Can’t think of a tool to try out? Not a problem as you can as always bring sanity to team collaboration with the help of ProofHub. It’s basically one of the most powerful software solutions to bring teams together and collaborate (within the office and on the go).

Unsure how to communicate with your team and clients? Take this advice – Switch to ProofHub!

The software brings all your office communications under one roof and enables teams to have meaningful collaboration and save a lot of time via Group Chat, Online Discussions, Online Proofing, Notes, Announcement, Email-in, and many other amazing collaborative features. Here are some of the key benefits you’ll reap when you get your project team on board with a tool like ProofHub:

  • Add fun to office conversations
  • Keep all project-related conversations safe
  • Collaborate over ideas in an organized manner
  • Share feedback and collaborate on files in real-time
  • Get work done without wasting too much time
  • Connect and get things done anywhere, anytime
  • Constantly move forward and give velocity to your team’s growth

Now, you know why teamwork doesn’t work and what the secret ingredients for team success are. Why not make it happen?

Just keep all the above points in mind and get them right in your actions, success and rewarding teamwork will follow. Let teams rise and achieve greatness, together.

Good luck!

 Vartika Kashyap
Vartika Kashyap

Vartika Kashyap is the Marketing Manager at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2018. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.


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