When most people think of teams they think of a sports team; perhaps a group of volunteers working towards a common cause; a family unit or of course, a department at work.
My observation has been that it’s difficult to teach teamwork if an individual sees themselves as an island of one. I remember one person said to me once, “My team is three people.” Intrigued, I asked him to tell me more. He proudly said, “Me, Myself and I.” His organization engaged me over several executive coaching sessions to undo that way of seeing the world.
You may recall, to help get our two children through college without any debt, my wife and I took on part-time jobs as there’s only so much we can draw from the business for tax efficiency. My background as you may know, is accounting and so a few years back I started teaching at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Downtown Los Angeles.
George is my Department Chair, I am the Instructor, Ustess is the security guard and Elsa is the cleaner. We make a good team. We’re not in the same department but we work really well together. We have clarity of purpose — we try and give the students the best, safest and cleanest educational experience possible. We trust each other — they’re good at what they do and I think I’m good at what I do. They are men and women of character — they’re good people. We listen well to each other. We give feedback well and as a result, the end product of our combined service is far greater than the work we could do as individuals.
Yes, I am coming to the conclusion after 20 years as an employee, 10 years as a business owner and a few years at the same time as a part-time instructor that teamwork doesn’t have be in the same department. That great teams have Clarity of Purpose, Trust, Listen Well, Feedback and as a result have Creative Cooperation (aka Synergy).