4 Key Lessons on Teamwork

I am an only child, so naturally I have grown up to be quite comfortable working independently and doing things on my own. I don’t mind being the organiser, going on trips on my own, working on projects and deadlines to achieve what I need both personally and professionally.

But there will always come a time where I tend to realise that ‘I can’t do it all’ and I get, well, burnt out. I am not superwoman, I am human, and while I am capable of achieving great things on my own, some of the experiences I have had in my life would not have been so successful without having a team by my side.

I understand that some people will embrace teamwork with open arms and others shy away from the concept, and I can relate. Sometimes it can be awkward to work with someone you barely know or you may have a more introverted personality. But I think it is also important to consider the value of what teamwork can achieve for all of us.

1. A sense of accountability

I believe when you are allocated a task or responsibility in a group that you are driven to achieve higher standards because you know that you are contributing something to the entire team and not just for yourself.

How often have you created a personal goal and then talked yourself out of it?

It’s a lot more difficult to do that when you are in a team. You have someone to report to or you need to keep following up yourself to keep everyone on track. And based on personal experience, the ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘I’m too busy’ excuse is often met with a ‘toughen up princess’ response. We are all busy individuals with different responsibilities and excuses (or sometimes what I like to call the pity party) are not going to be passed for special people in the group, we are all on an even playing field. We are kept accountable.

2. A helping hand

Of course when you are experiencing a personal problem or a down period and are struggling, team members step in to encourage one another, provide advice and they will even help you share the workload if necessary to help you get back on track. I have had a few moments where I have been panicking due to deadlines rushing in and items not working out to plan, and sometimes have even broken down into tears due to a combination of stress and exhaustion. If you have built close relationships within your team, they can sense when something is wrong and sometimes without even asking, a helping hand is held your way.

3. A competitive drive

When I refer to competitive drive I’m not referring to competing against one another in your team, I have seen this happen firsthand in previous office environments and I have found it to drive the team further apart rather than draw them together.

However, you may have a competing business in the same industry or an opposing sports team and the saying ‘strength in numbers’ comes into play. You stick your heads together and come up with new strategies, brainstorm new ideas and overall have a fresh perspective on goals and tasks. Once you have established the outcome you want to achieve as a team you feel stronger, more capable of taking on the odds of any challenges thrown your way. And you play to win!

4. Personal development and growth

I have to say over the years I have grown to learn a lot about myself in team environments. Interacting in a team environment involves:

• Patience – As things may not go according to plan or there are delays. You are all in this together, so losing your cool at someone or having a tantrum in front of the group will not make the situation work more favourably, not to mention you are the one that will feel foolish afterwards.

• Having an open mind – to new suggestions and perspectives, this also includes not being quick to judge one another if they take on a task differently to you.

• Having a positive mindset and how it increases team morale – The ability to encourage others and support one another as much as they support you. Try to enjoy the experience and get to know one another, make an effort to be a team player.

• How to respond in emergency situations – Thinking on your feet but also responsibly to look out for your team and their needs. Again the importance of keeping calm therefore being more aware of what is going on around you.

• Communication to help solve issues and not to let tension build – especially if you are in disagreement with certain members of the team. Also to speak up when you need help or would like to assist.

• The importance of being organised and punctual – Allowing yourself to be viewed as reliable within the team. The more reliable you are, the more responsibilities you can also take on amongst the team.

What has teamwork taught you? When were some of your winning team moments?