Chances are good that you already know that teamwork is essential to the success of any organization. Effective teamwork increases efficiency while bolstering morale and improving problem-solving. But can teamwork be taught?
What Is Teamwork? Why Is It Important?
The term teamwork refers to the ability of a team to work in coordination toward a common goal, be it a business target, a product deadline, or anything in between.
Managers have been aware of the importance of teamwork since at least the 1970s. Since then, many team effectiveness models have been proposed. Most of them agree that a handful of factors are crucial when it comes to building successful teams:
- Compelling direction. Do team members understand the importance of the goal they are pursuing?
- Defined structure. Each member of the team must have a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities.
- Supportive context. Other members should be ready and willing to step in when one of their colleagues needs assistance.
- Common mindset. The team must share the same vision and values.
Years of research have provided us with solid insights on how teamwork works as well as ideas on how to foster a strong teamwork culture. But can teamwork be taught?
Some people have a natural ability to work in teams, while others find it more challenging.
Regardless of which category you belong to, the good news is that psychologists believe that teamwork skills can be taught.
Some of the keys to teaching teamwork skills include:
- Introduce cooperative tasks. Focusing on a common goal is one of the basic conditions for effective teamwork.
- Promote useful conflict. Conflict is not absent from effective teams. However, good teams know how to manage conflict in a way that leads to growth.
- Promote positive interactions. While conflict is necessary, it isn’t the prevalent ingredient of the teamwork “recipe.” The ideal proportion between positive interactions and conflict is about 3.5:1.
- Provide a sense of purpose. People deliver better results when they feel that they are working on something that matters.
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