Brace yourselves, I’m about to say something controversial.
I am not a fan of ‘teamwork.’
And yet I love working and collaborating with people.
So why do I hate teamwork?
It took a while for me to understand and unpack these thoughts. Maybe like me you were brought up with the idea of “There is no I in team.” and teamwork was all about conformity with everyone-doing-the-same-thing-at-the-same-time, and that didn’t sit well with me. Early on in my career we endured ‘team building’ activities and were shown photos of geese flying in formation and rowers in boats and there was never any flexibility, creativity, or uniqueness. That definition of teamwork never bought me joy.
Fast forward many years and I was asked to run a team building activity (insert scary face) for a law firm and all these old thoughts and feelings resurfaced. How can I deliver a workshop on teamwork when I don’t believe in teamwork?
I started by telling them this workshop is not about teamwork, it will be about ‘Teams That Work’ and how the best working environments are comprised of individuals working collaboratively. Collaborative teams bring diverse people together people with different views, education, and experience to share resources, ideas and thinking to accomplish a common goal.
I stressed to them that they did not have to all be the same and ‘work together’ at the same pace.
I introduced to them the idea of the Star Team which suited how organisations such as law firms work. Star Teams comprise of individual experts who may work independently or with others. The refer work within their team and work collaboratively to solve problems and improve themselves and others.
So, what is the 2021 definition of teamwork?
Here are the elements I feel are essential
- Agreeing on and working towards a common goal
- Respecting individuality and working with your strengths
- Collaboration and sharing
- Open communication and trust
And you know what? We don’t need to be in the same location and all doing the same thing to achieve this.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think.