What is teamwork? Inherently, you know what it is. It’s two or more people working cooperatively to attain a goal. Is it really that simple?
People. One goal. Working together.
Yes, it’s that simple. However, teamwork can be applied in many circumstances. Sometimes, someone’s actions can be initially viewed as negative but have positive results in the end. Sometimes, groups of people have the same goal and wear the same uniform but have no chemistry. Most would say they didn’t play as a team.
The formal definition of teamwork, according to Dictionary.com, is as follows:
“cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause.”
Teamwork is a noun and is made up of two root words: team and work. What are their definitions?
Team has two definitions, according to Dictionary.com, applicable to people:
1. a number of persons forming one of the sides in a game or contest: a football team.
2. a number of persons associated in some joint action: a team of advisers.
Work also has two applicable definitions:
1. exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.
2. productive or operative activity.
As you can see, the first definition of “team” above is related to a game or contest. Sports analogies abound when talking about teamwork. My college accounting professor spoke in sports analogies. They helped me tremendously in understanding the complicated rules and concepts of accounting. Whether you play basketball, soccer or field hockey, you likely think of sports when you think of teams or teamwork. Teamwork goes way beyond sports though.
The second definition of “team” above addresses a joint action. The initial and simple definition of teamwork above, address a goal. If you don’t have a goal or a common action to work toward, a true team can not be created. This is obvious when sports “teams” have no chemistry. Just because they wear the same uniform does not mean they are a team.
A true team has that one goal. It can be all the cashiers at Wal-Mart, servers at a restaurant, or tellers at a bank. They all need to have the same goal and be a team. If one goes awry, that person is no longer part of the team.
The definitions of “work” above use “effort” and “productive.” Effort means action has to be taken. Several people thinking about the same thing at the same time do not constitute a team if they do nothing with the thoughts. Those thoughts have to be put into action. Similarly, the actions have to produce something. If each person puts his/her thought into a different action, this will not result in teamwork. It will result in chaos.
For teamwork to be achieved, multiple persons use common actions to produce one result. What results are you trying to achieve with your teams? What teams are you a member of? Think about all the teams you are on. It’s more than you even think.