Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

April 7, 2016


I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Teamwork Makes The Dream Work” and while it’s a bit of a cliché, it’s actually true.

I spotted this article recently and whilst the title is a bit lengthy, it hit home for me.  It made me remember an MD saying to me that if everybody just did their job then everything would work. For some reason he found his view didn’t work – well I wasn’t surprised, he hadn’t considered the impact that teamwork actually has.

When people keep their head down working on their bit of the business then you’re almost guaranteed to not be the cheapest, fastest or best quality at whatever you do. Transfer that isolated working mindset to your office software, be it Microsoft or Google or Apple.  You expect Microsoft Office to be all joined up so that for example you can easily attach a Word document to an email. Or in the world of Google you expect your Chrome bookmarks on your PC to equally appear on your smartphone.  It all just seems joined up.

Going back to a business, have you seen examples where individuals or teams don’t act in a joined up way?  The classic example is the clash between sales and production departments.  The Sales team is keen to achieve its sales targets and often rushes to get sales booked in before the end of the month. Yet the Production team can’t easily turn up capacity to meet the delivery promises given by Sales. Maybe the answer is for Sales and Production to talk more and become better at teamwork or at least be aware of what capacity exists in the business.

There’s No ‘I’ In Teamwork

Yes it’s another cliché but there really isn’t an I in teamwork. Too many times I hear about “ the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” But actually if there was more communication and teamwork happening then both hands would know what was going on and the business would benefit as a consequence.

One excuse for not communicating I hear is that it takes up too much time or we always sort things out…eventually! My challenge to that viewpoint is that the time used in communicating is usually much less than the time and effort wasted trying to “sort things out”.

How To Get Better At Teamwork

Here are two really valuable approaches to getting everybody to be more joined up and working as part of a team:

1. Share a simple process map of “how things work around here”…

Teamwork Process

The main process steps are across the top, details for each person within each step is set out and colour-coded below the process.

2. Gather the main players together and through an open discussion (use a facilitator to guide you though it) build a map of how a sales order gets processed through the business. People will probably say it’s the first time they saw the end-to-end process and where they fit in. They’ll also make suggestions about making the process better.  And you’re on the way to being more joined up.

If you feel you’ve sorted the process map aspects you may need to move onto the joined up measures. What I mean is having some performance measures that show how well the end-to-end system is performing, e.g. the time to turn an order into a delivery, or the level of rework throughout the process.  Rather than reward the Sales Team for just bringing in the sale (that might be missing critical delivery or production information) make them interested in how the order gets processed. 

So if you feel you are all joined up and tick the teamwork box then congratulations. If not then, consider a process map or a set of end-to-end measures to drive the business. If you would like a chat to discuss applying these principles in your business, please give me a call or drop me an email.