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Teamwork Failure in Organisations
What exactly is teamwork? What do we call the teams? Okay, let’s put the concept into perspective. Recently, there is a ceremony going on to name the baby boy that God has just given to a beautiful couple in the neighborhood. Two friends who had earlier decided to contribute N20,000 and give the parents of the babies also arrived. One gave his friend his N20,000 so that he could add his N20,000 to make up the agreed N40,000.
Instead of adding his N20,000 to the N20,000, the smart friend just pocketed the N20,000, took the check and wrote “Pay Mr. Nice Man the sum of N40,000”, even though he and his friend knew that there was no money in the to your bank account! Would you call these two people friends? They are friends but not compatible. This shows that being friends doesn’t automatically mean that the people involved are intimate. That’s why you have an expression like, “With a friend like you, I don’t need an enemy anymore.” This means that the so-called friend that is being talked about is already like an enemy.
Lack of specification
Just like ‘friendship’, one complex word that is vaguely used in Nigeria, especially in the corporate environment is ‘teamwork’. Having teams or engaging in teamwork without actually defining the type does not automatically guarantee organizational success. Effective teamwork is the basis of any successful management, and a real and effective team is a living, ever-changing, dynamic force in which a large number of people come together to work. Team members discuss their goals, evaluate ideas, make decisions, and work together to achieve their goals under strong and effective leadership.
Achieving business goals
According to Carol Sue Jones, a training and instruction professional with a strong focus on management development, “Managers must be able to build effective teams and relationships to achieve business priorities and goals. They define success in terms of the performance of the entire team and will hold people accountable for the work they do. They must balance this with the ability to provide the information team members need to complete their tasks while helping them feel good about the work they are doing. Communication is a critical task in productivity and team building.”
Just finished South Africa 2010
If you watched the (Super) Eagles matches at the just concluded World Cup in South Africa, you would know that the mere existence of teams does not automatically guarantee success if the teams are not efficient and committed. We saw mismatched teamwork in action. Ineffective teams are either metaphorically not seen as teams or literally seen as pointless teams, just as a coward can be metaphorically called a woman or literally called a scared man.
No wonder Jim Clemmer, bestselling author of Pathways to Performance and The Leader’s Digest says, “For all the big talk, matching shirts…, calling a group of people a team doesn’t make it one. These groups are usually just a collection of individuals from the same department who meet occasionally. Few of us were lucky enough to participate in a strong, united team. Giving everyone a shirt may cause short-term warm and fuzzy feelings, but it rarely leads to a powerful, unified team unless the underlying issues are addressed. An example of an underlying problem might be chronic animosity between managers working with a team.”
Setting ground rules and setting goals are just some of the guidelines that can help your teams achieve their goals such as productivity improvement, process management, innovation, cost effectiveness, etc. According to Kevin Eikenberry, a leadership expert, “Everyone thinks teams are a good thing. Leaders like to form teams. People generally believe in the value and purpose of teams…”
Types of teams
There are two basic types of teams created in organizations. There are football/basketball teams; and athletic teams. The success of your organization depends on your choice between these two types and how effectively you are able to manage the right choice that you have fortunately made.
These are teams that naturally require everyone to play as a unit. Such teams naturally force people to collaborate and remain committed to the organization because it is not possible to be successful alone as individuals. I’m sure you know we didn’t lift the Under-17 World Cup we organized last year because some players were selfish, trying to impress football scouts. In the end, all players lost the match together.
Athletic teams constitute another type of team in organizations. Organizations should avoid establishing these types of teams because people will aim for individual success instead of being committed to effective teamwork. Athletic teams are unconsciously created in organizations when individual efforts are predominantly rewarded over team efforts. Then a rivalry between the staff will start instead of a healthy competition between different teams in the organization.
For example, we usually have a Nigerian team whenever we go to the Olympics. A team usually consists of sprinters, high jumpers, shot putters, distance runners, soccer players, etc. Although the members or sub-teams are collectively known as Team Nigeria, they are not interdependent in their engagements when they get there as they aim for individual or sub-team success. That’s because shot putters can succeed without being high jumpers, sprinters or football players. In athletic disciplines, except for relays, athletes are not mutually dependent. Although the members of a soccer sub-team need each other to succeed, a soccer sub-team does not need other sub-teams to succeed because their skills are different, even though all the sub-teams are team Nigeria.
Effective teamwork is critical to the success of any organization. Therefore, organizations need to set priorities correctly and review them often; balance teams for strengths; give team members proper orientation regarding overall corporate goals, etc. Above all, rewarding individual performance should be discouraged, while team excellence should be rewarded.
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