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Teamwork affects the bottom line

We’ve all heard the saying that there’s no “I” in team. But when it comes to businesses and organizations, it’s much easier to say that than to implement it.

The reality is that effective teamwork in the workplace can help companies realize the desired benefits of productivity, increase employee morale as well as help with solvency. On the other hand, lack of a “team first” culture can result in ineffectiveness, lack of employee trust and uncontrollable operating losses.

Teamwork defined

Communication, coordination and cooperation among team members is an essential component for organizational success no matter the workplace environment. In the work environment, employees must contribute to an organizational atmosphere of working as a cohesive unit, valuing/respecting each other and placing the achievement of the group over personal aspirations. Leaders must instill a culture of team building, valuing diversity and recognizing or rewarding employees who demonstrate these behaviors.

The positive implications of teamwork can be seen in entities such as sports teams, medical staffs, five-star restaurants and surgical teams. Although many companies have exerted significant effort and resources to foster teamwork and build high-performing teams, there is still opportunity for improvement. Misdirected attitudes, values and beliefs of individual performance are still prevalent in the workplace. The “me first” mentality is still a malady that permeates the work environment and our society. Our education system, political landscape, entertainment industries and even our family structure emphasize personal accomplishment. Yet, we are expected to cast aside these possibly innate characteristics and assimilate, collaborate and achieve team goals. Consider the fact that a job promotion is typically given to one individual—not to an entire team of individuals.

The impact of a lack of teamwork

Sports teams that display a lack of teamwork may result in a team loss (or championship). Medical staffs that display a lack of teamwork may result in inadequate health care or a botched surgical operation (Corbett, 2009). Business workplace groups that display a lack of teamwork may turn into undesired operational business results. All such behaviors can have a negative impact on the bottom line, monetarily speaking.

In some cases, a company’s normal course of business operations may inadvertently facilitate an environment non-conducive to teamwork. An example would be the insurance industry. On one hand, there are insurance sales agents. The insurance agent’s role and responsibility is to sell insurance policies and generate revenue. On the other hand, employees in the insurance risk management department are responsible for mitigating and limiting the liability and potential financial loss to the company. The risk management team may very well deny insurance coverage to an agent’s potential client if there is a financial risk to the company. Leaders with such challenges must devise consensus building and collaboration scenarios that will benefit the company as well as its employees.

Team-building practices

Research has shown three practices (at a minimum) to be highly successful in curing the maladies of unproductive and ineffective teams while boosting employee morale, confidence and trust (Chieh-Wen, Yi-Fang, & Ming-Chia, 2010):

  • Leaders must communicate what the goals and objectives of the team are. Employees are more apt to produce when they are aware of what is expected.

  • Leaders must empower teams and involve teams in the decision-making process. Employees and teams who help with making decisions on the initiatives they are expected to execute are much more successful than employees and teams who are not a part of the decision making.

  • Leaders must recognize, acknowledge and reward teams who consistently demonstrate expected behaviors and attitudes. Recognizing employees publicly for their teamwork and success in accomplishing an initiative, acknowledging the professionalism and work ethic of a team and/or offering monetary rewards to team members enhances team morale are examples of ways to reward teams.

In addition, when these leadership techniques are done in front of other employees within the organization, it serves as a catalyst for increased teamwork and productivity and for more employees to emulate the behaviors (Herb, Leslie, & Price, 2001).

More importantly, executing these techniques will minimize the negative, dysfunctional activities of low employee morale, lack of productivity and the possibility of employee sabotage or harboring ill-will toward other employees. Further, the organization may see curtailment in other organizational ailments such as employee absenteeism and employee turnover which also adversely affect the company bottom line.

References

Cheih-Wen, S., YI-Fang, T., & Ming-Chia, C. (2010). Relationship among teamwork behavior, trust, perceived team support, and team commitment. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 38(10), 1297-1306. doi:10.2224/sbp.2010.38.10.1297

Corbett, S. (2009). Teamwork: how does this relate to the operating room practitioner?  Journal of Perioperative Practice, 19(9), 278-281. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Herb, E., Leslie, K., & Price, C. (2001). Teamwork at the top. McKinsey Quarterly, (2), 32-43. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Snyder, L. (2009). Teaching teams about teamwork: Preparation, practice, and performance review. Business Communication Quarterly, 72(1), 74-79. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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