Career Chat: The importance of working in teams

Let’s chat about the importance of working in teams

by Karen Adamedes

There’s an old proverb, ‘sticks in a bundle are unbreakable’ which I think relates strongly to the benefits of teams for both a business and the people in a team.

How you work in a team is also important for your career. Ally was a highly successful sales person, used to working on her own, but found that it was not until she learned to work well with others her career took off. Now in a sales management role she said, “It was hard learning to trust that other people would pull their weight in a team, I had some very bad experiences with group assignments at university. But when I started to trust other people it meant I could focus on what I was good at. And my relationships with colleagues really developed”.  

Why is working in a team important?

People will judge your performance at work by looking at how you work in and with teams. Successful teamwork is central to achieving your objectives in the business world. Plus being seen as a team player is of value to your career. Being able to work successfully as part of a team is another skill set that you need to develop as part of your Operating Style.

Think of any of the TV shows you love to watch. Getting them to your TV screen involves many skillful people, including writers, actors, editors, publicists and production staff. Take the gaffer, for example, who heads up the electrical department of a production and is responsible for the lighting. Although this job doesn’t have much of a profile, it’s integral to the show. An actor could give the most impressive performance of his or her career, but there isn’t much point if the set wasn’t lit and no one saw it. Everyone involved in a project can be an expert in their area, but they all need to work together for a successful result.

So, too, in the business world: the complexity and expertise required mean there’s little room for any one person to play the role of the actor, and take center stage, without the rest of the team to help them succeed. Whatever your role, whether you’re leading a team or supporting it, working successfully with a team will help you achieve business goals and contribute to your career success.

Like Ally’s experience, sometimes it just seems easier to do something yourself, rather than work with a team. Many people find teamwork frustrating, and you’ve probably heard people muttering, “When you want something done properly, do it yourself.” Particularly, if they’re fixing someone else’s mistakes or making up for those who don’t pull their weight or deliver work to a good standard.

What do I need to do?

Unfortunately, as appealing as it is to do it all yourself, the reality is that in business, it’s just not possible. You need to be able to work in teams.

You need to work with other people to share the workload and gain access to their expertise and specialized skills.

In the business world, this translates to working in teams. No matter how proficient you are at what you do – to be successful you need other people and their skills to help you achieve your best.

To do this you need the skills to work well in teams.

What is a team?

A team is simply a group of people who work together to achieve a common purpose or goal.

Teamwork is beneficial because it can:

  • motivate people who want to belong to a group and contribute
  • give a sense of pride in team membership and results
  • create a productive work environment, which stimulates and promotes engagement and collaboration, and
  • provide business outcomes that are superior to those that individual team members could have achieved.

To enjoy these benefits, and the success that comes with them, we need to learn to incorporate the skills that make you a successful team player into the way you work. Because, quite simply you need all of the skills of a team to be a success – so that you can focus on what you do best!

What did Michael Jordan do?

Even the best individuals in their field in the world, like sports stars, have to learn this. Michael Jordan has been described as the greatest basketball player of all time. But his success was tied to his ability to play with a team. No matter how many baskets Jordan could sink, he had to learn to pass the ball to become a champion.

If you let the other people in the team do their part, you get to focus on your area of expertise. Michael Jordan focused on sinking basketballs and playing defense.

What would you do if, instead of doing everything yourself, you focused on what you are good at and what you enjoy?

What does this all mean?

Trust the team and concentrate on your area of expertise!



Updated from Hot Tips for Career Chicks by Karen Adamedes


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