Many workplaces use the word “team” to describe their employees or various divisions within their companies and yet what they really have is a group of individuals.
A team works together to achieve a common goal. Individuals within a group work towards achieving their own results.
This week in our leadership experience, the participants experienced what it is like to become a team.
At the end of each session, participants are given homework to do; some complete the homework and some do not. Those who don’t complete the homework cause the group to “fail”.
In the initial stages, participants are concerned with their own success until they understand that their contribution or lack thereof affects everyone.
The way to move a group of individuals to become a team is to give them a project.
Years ago, a psychology experiment was conducted in America where school buddies were separated and placed into different groups at a summer camp. The groups were then manipulated and influenced to the point where the original school buddies no longer liked each other. The camp leaders and psychologists could not let the children return home with a dislike for their friends so they came up with a project which required ALL of the groups to participate to solve the problem.
As the groups worked with each other to solve the problem and complete the project, the relationships began to mend and the entire group became a team.
In our leadership experience, one person stepped up and took the lead, which the others were happy to follow. (As a sidebar, they learned that their people are looking for leadership and are happy to be led.)
There was a flurry of emails, phone calls and text messages as group members worked together to pass the assignment.
If you’re finding that your “team” is really operating as a group of individuals, reflect on the instructions you are giving, as well as the tasks. Are the tasks set up for individual performance or is there a common goal the “team” are working towards?
If you want your people to work as a team, give them a common project or goal to achieve.