As people come to terms with the increasingly challenging and
competitive environment, many acknowledge the need to constantly
challenge their performance and their ability to implement major
change. Continuous improvement and innovation, customer-driven
focus, partnerships with suppliers and customers, and an
organization-wide standard of responsibility and accountability are
all keys to the steady growth and change necessary to run a
All of these change efforts require behavioral change; this
typically makes them difficult to achieve on an individual basis
and on organizational levels. What, then, is the missing
ingredient? Support. Anyone trying to quit smoking or attempting a
new diet knows that going at it alone is nearly impossible. For
real change to occur, everyone needs support. Change cannot be an
individual effort. It must be a team effort.
Organizational emphasis on teams is not new, but there is more
urgency toward team performance because of the proven links among
teams, individual behavior changes, and high performance.
What do we mean when we talk about teams? A team is a collection of
people with potentially complimentary skills who are committed to a
common purpose, common goals, and a common approach.
Teams vs. Teamwork
Now that we have defined what is meant by a team, let's
delineate the difference between it and teamwork. In a direct clash
with common logic, the potential impact teams have on performance
is significantly under-exploited, despite the fact that most
managers advocate teamwork. Teams and teamwork are not the same
thing. Teamwork is a set of values that encourage constructive
behavior such as listening, responding usefully to opposing views,
challenging and confronting issues, providing support, and so on.
Teamwork values help teams succeed, but much more is required to
create and sustain a team that consistently performs at a high
level. A team is a working unit, and it is the performance
challenge that shapes a team. In this way, performance is the cause
and effect of teams; it is the reason for becoming a team and a
team's ideal end result.
But a team doesn't just happen. All teams are about personal
chemistry, good communication, and camaraderie. But a real, working
team has a common purpose that focuses and drives activities and
behavior toward that final goal.
Where there are open-ended problems, or in cases where expertise
runs out, teamwork makes sense. In fact, only teamwork will be
strong enough to crack these problems open and provide the support
needed to work through those obstacles they put in your way.