Teaching Team Work

You are part of a group when you work alongside others. Where did you learn how to be a teammate? No one is born knowing how to work in a team. The family is everyone’s first encounter as a teammate. There was a boss (or a few bosses) and perhaps some co-workers (siblings). School is often the next place where we learn about team dynamics. Maybe you were involved in team sports or gained experience playing them. You eventually got hired and brought your experience as a player in a team to the workplace.

You had a positive experience at your first job, and you learned how great teams work. You might have had a bad experience and learned from it how dysfunctional teams work. This is how we learn teamwork. How we interact with others is shaped by our experiences.

Experiential team members can help new colleagues improve their performance. There are three primary sources of information for new employees once they have joined the workforce.

1. Teammates.

Think back to your childhood and how you were influenced by your siblings and other friends. Peer-to-peer relationships are powerful in sharing the whys and hows within any organization. Make sure your existing team members have the proper grounding to help them grow. Leadership must listen to their team members. Managers don’t know the feelings of their team about the workplace. They also don’t know the messages being sent to new members. Positive management must create a positive atmosphere to ensure that these messages are positive. Don’t expect new teammates to flourish if the current team is unhappy.

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2. Leaders and managers. Leaders / Managers.

Studies after studies have shown the profound impact of the relationship between a manager and an employee. Employees who feel their manager is there for them and listens to their concerns will stay with the company longer and be more satisfied with their work environment. Employee happiness is influenced less by work hours and pay than their relationship with their manager. If you are looking for new teammates who can learn teamwork, talk to your immediate supervisor.

3. Expert team development consultants.

Sometimes despite management’s best efforts, teams don’t excel. A professional consultant can often observe the workplace and give feedback to employees and managers to determine the root causes. The qualified consultant can suggest solutions. Most often, this will be some kind of team-building activity. The goal is key to any intervention’s success. An analysis should be done before a company hires a consultant. A doctor won’t treat you unless a diagnosis has been made. A “prescription” for team building should also be tailored to a specific need.

What if your team is performing well? Even if we feel in good health, most people still have an annual check-up with their doctor. Even if your car isn’t showing any obvious problems, you still take it to the shop for routine maintenance. The same goes for your team. Regular team-building events not only can help to alleviate issues but, when done by a professional team developer consultant, may uncover additional issues that need more attention.

No matter how involved the manager is, teaching teamwork to new colleagues can be done. Leadership doesn’t have to intervene if the company is well managed, the employees are happy, and the company is making a profit. Leaders and managers should play an active role in the integration of new employees in most cases. Sometimes professional intervention is required when this is attempted.

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