Teamwork in the Workplace - Begins With The Individual

This page serves two purposes.

  1. Share the insider secret all high-performance leaders knows → teamwork begins with the individual.
  2. Provide you with a series of articles that help drive high performance teamwork in the workplace.

If you have already visited this page and want to skip straight to the list of articles, use this link.

If you haven't visited before, then I highly recommend you read the article first before going deeper with the articles listed at the bottom of the page.

Have you ever heard that dopey saying there is no "I" in team! What a load of nonsense! Teamwork in the workplace is highly reliant on individuals ... individuals performing to their best and, sometimes, that performance will be for their own self interest!

We all go to work to have some of our personal needs met and the workplace that tries to ignore or negate the individual's needs is setting itself up for a fools ride. The leader's role is to help each individual align his or her own needs and interests, with the goals and pursuits of the team.

A team that is filled with individuals who are committed to and passionate about the team's goals, because they coincide with their own needs, is far more powerful, than a team filled with individuals who have over-ridden their own needs, for the good of the team, and are co-operating in a lackluster manner.

individuals make the team work

High Performance Teams Place High Value on Attitude

Mindset, attitude, and motivation you can't really train into someone. Certainly, you can create the environment that inspires people to want to be at (and give of) their best, but there are some individuals who really aren't right for your workplace, and they can quickly destroy the morale of the team.

Make no mistake the most powerful team member ... who will quickly undermine teamwork in the workplace .. is that individual who under-performs and cares little about the success of the team. High performance teams know this, and make sure that these team members (who just aren't a right fit for the environment, and the work on offer) are quickly moved out of the team.

If you want more tips on how to create the right environment to inspire people to be at their best, access "How To Motivate Employees".

High Performance Teams Place High Value on Individuals Using Their Strengths

Understanding an individual's strengths means that you can place them in roles that will enable them to use their strengths on a regular basis. When people are able to do this they shine, and are far more productive. Read more about strengths and individual and team success.

Jobs and task assignment should be crafted around each individual's strengths rather than Job Descriptions. Make a list of all the tasks that need to happen for the team to succeed, then make sure that the individual, whose strengths coincide with the task, is assigned to that task.

High Performance Teams Don't Waste Time Trying to Fix an Individual's Weaknesses

It is outmoded to think that an individual should focus on being good at everything. Identify the individual's weaknesses. But, do focus the majority of attention on the individual's strengths and improving their capability in their strength area - not on 'fixing' their weaknesses ... that is a waste of organizational time and resources and has the individual focusing his or her effort in the wrong place.

For those parts of their job that they are weak at, use others in the team, whose strengths are the individual's weaknesses, to support them.

High Performance Teams Keep Score

You can anticipate high levels of teamwork in the workplace, when goals are clearly defined and performance is recorded and shared on a regular basis. Any individual team member, should be able to tell a visitor to their facility, the top 5 goals for the team and be able to quote in a measurable manner (e.g. 'x'%) how their team is tracking toward that goal, for that particular hour/day/week/month (whichever is the appropriate measure) AND ...

The individual should be able to tell the visitor what their individual 5 goals are (which support the team in achieving its goals) and how they as an individual are tracking toward that goal.

Teamwork In the Workplace Happens at a Higher Level when Each Team Member Is Trained to Provide Feedback

Differing personalities, tension for resources, conflict are all part and parcel of organizational life. If you want a high performance team it is imperative, that you provide each and every person in the team, with the skills to hold challenging and difficult conversations, to negotiate differences, to provide performance improvement feedback.

Don't do this, and the chances of you having a team, that performs to its optimum, is severely diminished.

When people don't have the skills to handle high stakes conversations, tactfully and successfully, you can guarantee that the raising of issues/problems/poor performance is avoided ... but you will see the consequence of it ... back-stabbing and gossiping running rampant, high turnover, stressed leaders and overall poor team performance.

Teach team members skills such as those available in the training "Successful Feedback

Improving Teamwork In The Workplace Checklist

  • Conflict is going to happen - in fact healthy conflict is needed - so train each team member in how to hold high stakes conversations.
  • Make sure every team member knows the goals, knows how the team is tracking against the goal, how their individual performance impacts on the team goals
  • Create the systems that enable each individual to work to his or her strengths regularly -- and have systems/support to minimize the impact of his or her weaknesses. In other words, don't put team members in roles where they can't perform to their best
  • Entrench in the culture that poor performance is not tolerated and is addressed rapidly
  • Provide the systems and support, so that team members can hold each other accountable for individual performance (and provide disciplinary action when needed)
  • Ensure that the team members are part of the hiring team and selection process
  • Attitude and mindset are more important than skill-set ... so hire accordingly
  • As teams grow and develop, enable them more control over decision-making, and how the work gets done.
  • Have a strong training and development program that goes beyond technical skills. It is imperative that team members learn 'soft-skills' e.g. providing performance feedback, problem solving, holding effective meetings and learn business skills - so they think like an owner.
Go To The Topic Area You Are Interested In

Within the categories listed below, there are articles, filled with tips, ideas and tools to help you build and sustain a high-performance culture.

Improving Overall Team Performance

Improving Individual Performance

Improving Overall Team Performance

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Developing Resilience At Work

More productive, bigger goals achieved, overcoming obstacles, people achieving against the odds - if you want these things for your team - then time to start developing resilience in your people.

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Stages of Team Development

Do you find yourself working within a traditional command and control type of organization where there is a lot of 'being told what to do'? Are you looking for a way to break this old way of leading, and create a workplace that is more empowered and engaged?

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Assessing Team Development Quiz

You can take this quiz either before you've read the Stages of Team Development and Team Pillars articles, to test your knowledge. Or take it after to assess how well you have understood the information.

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Team Pillars

We seem to self-manage at home, yet when it comes to teams in the workplace, it can be challenging to know how to develop them to become more self-reliant and self-managing. Following on from the Stages of Team Development article, the tools here will open up a whole new world of team development

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Developing A Responsibility Chart

Want to clarify who has responsibility for approving and undertaking various activities in your team? Use the Responsibility Chart, it is a wonderful tool for clarifying responsibilities and can be a great way to move your team more toward high performance.

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Organizational Goal Alignment

Getting every team and team member focused upon unifying goals can be a challenge. Use this process to align all teams and team members, so they are pulling together toward success.

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Opportunity Discovery Process

Have you got a problem or challenge, and not sure how to tackle it? Use The Opportunity Discovery Process to help your team get focused and agreed upon where to put their energy and attention.

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Team Conflict Quiz

Take this quiz to see how much conflict there is in your team.

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Identifying Learned Helplessness In The Workplace

How to identify learned helplessness in the workplace and a 3-Step process to overcome it.

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Performance Measurement

In this interview, performance measurement expert Stacey Barr, shares her top 5 tips for creating measures that drive results.

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Improving Individual Team Member Performance

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Don't Let 1-on-1 Meetings Sabotage Your Success

1 on 1 meetings can be a very powerful tool for building high performance, yet they are also fraught with danger. This article will help you to ensure they are a powerful tool for you.

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Improving Employee Performance

Here's how to improve employee performance and get peak performance in the workplace, by using the principle of "Flow"

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Handling Mistakes

Follow these 7 Steps when someone (or even you) has made a mistake, to get things back on track fast and to build confidence for the future.

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Performance Management Technique

Here's a nifty little tool to help you identify why someone is under-performing. Once you've identified the cause then you can figure out the best way to coach them back to high performance.

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Identifying Employee Performance Levels

Use this template to help identify the difference between between the high, medium and low performing people in your team. You will use the criteria of Technical Competence, Quality of Work, Performance Effectiveness, Living the Values

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Conducting a Successful Employee Review

Next to employee discipline, the formal employee performance review and appraisal sessions are probably the most dreaded leadership activity. See what it looks like in a high performance organization

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Performance Appraisal Process Examples

Performance appraisals can be a nightmare, or a stepping stone to greater performance. Before the actual appraisal meeting, use these three lists, to get the most from the meeting (regardless of whether you are the appraiser or the appraisee)

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Download a Performance Appraisal Form

More on successful employee reviews, and download a sample performance appraisal form

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Resources for Conducting a No Rating Performance Appraisal
Here is my response to a conversation on LinkedIn about No Rating Performance Appraisals. You can download, a powerpoint presentation and pdf that will help your research around no rating performance appraisals. Read More
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Avoid the 360 Degree Appraisal Time Bomb

A 360 degree appraisal is often a significant factor in any leader's career. Discover what you and your organization need to do to avoid the catastrophe that 360 degree evaluations can become

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Are You Nurturing These Two Elements?

There are two elements of high performance that often go unattended and the beauty is that you can make sure these are happening in your team - no matter the culture of the bigger organization.

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Appreciation Letters

Do you have people complaining that no-one notices their efforts? Use these sample letters to help you write notes and letters that acknowledges peoples efforts or support

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