Much has been written about the effectiveness of teams and how varying degrees of collaboration can boost innovation, productivity and generally how businesses operate. Sports teams share the fact they want to score more points than the opposition and therefore will formulate both defensive and offensive strategies with a view to arriving at a winning formula. However for teamwork to truly be effective, individual and group needs must be met.
Human beings function well in teams but only if sharing a common desired outcome. We are very complex characters and more often that not there are personal / individual agendas to be considered as well as team ones. Teamwork can break down very quickly when opposing strategies exist often resulting to a zero sum proposition. At the design firm IDEO, they have created an expectation around helping each other. This is not ad hoc but where somebody’s knowledge can help, it is forthcoming even though the individual helping may not be a direct beneficiary. What this pulls on however is the effectiveness of reciprocity and also the basic human fact that we (for the most part) derive satisfaction from helping others – individual and team needs met.
Another way of viewing this is via the Team Coaching International model which essentially describes teamwork as factors that optimize productivity (results) and promote positivity (relationships). They claim that these two pillars create “the means to take action, and then build relationships to motivate and sustain the action”. This is supported by the findings of Huckman and Staats (HBR – Dec 2013), in that there are also benefits to teams who are familiar with each other. As work leads to results, relationships evolve from the time spent together, which supports higher level of collaboration and this leads to even better outcomes.
So as you look at teams within your organization, be aware of the potential opposing forces and work to ensure alignment with both the individual and group needs.