Teamwork in the Workplace

Begins with the Individual

There is no I in teamwork ... Rubbish! Teamwork in the workplace begins, ends and thrives because of the individual. In this series of articles discover how to make your team stronger

This page serves two purposes.

1. Share the insider secret all high-performance leaders know → 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 use the Table of Contents

below to go to the category or article you are interested in

There is an "i" in Team

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 fool's ride. The leader's role is to help each individual align his/her needs and interests, with the goals and pursuits of the team.

A team 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.

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High-Performance Teams Place High Value on Attitude

Mindset, attitude, and motivation you can't train into someone. Yes, you can create the environment that inspires people to want to be at (and give of) their best, but some individuals 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 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" (this product is currently going under a rewrite and will be available soon).

Make no mistake. The most powerful team member is that individual who under-performs and cares little about the success of the team. Coach up or Coach out this person fast.

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 regularly. When people can do this, their discretionary effort goes up, and they 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.

Allowing your people to use their strengths on a regular basis, keeps them engaged and wanting to stay a part of the organization. 

Stop being so caught up in having people do the jobs assigned by their job description. Sure, let job descriptions be a guide, but don't let them dictate how you get work done in your team.

Make a list of all the tasks that need to happen for the team to succeed, then work with your team to 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 be good at everything. Research by Gallup is pretty clear. Spending inordinate amounts of time and energy on making someone exceptional at all that is described in their job description is a waste of organizational time and resources. 

You do need to identify the individual's weaknesses. Then put strategies in place so that these weaknesses don't become catastrophic to them or the business. For example, your technical guru may speak in a language that no-one else gets.

Well, don't try to completely stop him or her doing that. Instead, you might want to get your 'technical guru' a little more customer-focused when he or she needs to meet a client. But, don't expect him or her to close the sale and build the relationship with the customer. That needs to be done by someone who has the skills, talents, and capability to 'schmooze'. 

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. That just makes good business sense.

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 regularly. 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 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 3-5 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, and conflict are all part and parcel of organizational life. If you want a high-performance team, it is imperative, that you provide each person in the team, with the skills to hold challenging and difficult conversations, to negotiate differences, and 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 
  • gossiping running rampant
  • high turnover
  • stressed leaders
  •  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. Put in place systems/support to minimize the impact of his or her weaknesses. 
  • Entrench in the culture that poor performance is not tolerated and is rapidly addressed 
  • 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 robust training and development program that goes beyond technical skills. Team members must learn 'soft-skills', For example, providing performance feedback, problem solving, holding effective meetings and develop their business acumen, so they are thinking and acting like business partners.

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

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Improving Overall Team Performance

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Stages of Team Development

Are you working within a 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?

Stages of 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.

Team Building Resources

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

Develop a Responsibility Chart

Want to clarify who has responsibility for approving and undertaking various activities in your team? Use the Responsibility Chart, it can be a great way to improve team performance.

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.

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.

Team Conflict Quiz

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

Avoid Learned Helplessness

Here's how to identify learned helplessness in the workplace, along with a 3-Step process to overcome it.

5 Steps to Create Performance Measures

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

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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.


Improving Individual Team Member Performance

One-on-One Meetings

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.

Improve Employee Performance Using Flow

Here's how to improve get your people working at peak performance, by using the principle of "Flow"

Handling Employee 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.

Employee 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 improved performance.

Identify Team Member Performance Levels

Use this template to help identify the difference between between the high, medium and low performing people in your team. We've given you examples of Technical Competence, Quality of Work, Performance Effectiveness, and Living the Values

Successful Employee Performance 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

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.

Performance Appraisal 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)

Performance Appraisal Form

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

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

Acceptance and Belonging

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

Appreciation Letters

In this interview Rick Gills provides tips on how to create a resume that secures that all important job interview. His advice is sure to help you get your foot in the door!

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