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Teamwork Definition

Good teams define their own!

Teamwork Definition

Good teams define their own!

When forming a team, agreeing your own teamwork definition is something that’s often missed. Yet teamwork is something that’s often best defined in relation to your own organization and context.

In our article: Define Teamwork, we offered several worthwhile definitions for team leaders. However, it’s worth remembering that good teams start off with their own definition of teamwork. It’s crucial that you and team members begin by thinking through what teamwork means to each of you. Then, by agreeing values, goals, processes and behaviours you’ll be able to define teamwork for yourselves. This will encourage buy-in and commitment, and set the scene for future action – and success.

Developing a Teamwork Definition

To get you started, here’s an activity to run with your team. It can be used to refresh an emphasis on teamwork in an existing team but it’s an essential activity when you’re starting a new team. It will help you think through what teamwork means to all of you then reap the rewards of early involvement in the team’s development.

To get the most out of this team activity you may want to read some of our other key articles on teamwork. Firstly, step back and get a picture of the teamwork principles which are often lost in the day-to-day busyness of work. Secondly, and crucial to this activity, our article “define teamwork” discusses some common understandings of teamwork. Thirdly, you may want to read “why is teamwork important?” where we discuss the benefits of teamworking.

Once you’re ready to begin, set a time and venue for the teamwork definition activity. Ask the team to come prepared by writing down their thoughts on the following points:

  • Consider the keywords and phrases you would associate with team working.
  • Identify a team you would consider to be effective and reflect on why this is the case.
  • Identify a ‘team’ you would consider to be ineffective and reflect on why this is the case.
Activity – Define Teamwork


You will need:

  • A room with a conference table, or chairs arranged in a circle.
  • A flip-chart and/or a whiteboard, and suitable pens.
  • Several sets of post-it notes.

The aims of the activity are to:

  • Provide an initial definition of the team working process in your organisation/team.
  • Explore the dynamic nature of team working.
  • Clarify what might make for successful team working.
Start with a discussion of what makes a successful team.

After going through the aims of the session, it might be useful to start with a motivational quote or story. Next set the scene by affirming that every view is important, encouraging engagement and contribution from all present. Then:

  • Teamwork definition activityAsk the group to talk through their responses to the first pre-activity task: the keywords and phrases they associate with team working.
  • Ask them to list these on the post-it notes and place them on the board/flip-chart under a column headed: Task 1.
  • Repeat this for each of the other pre-activity tasks.
  • Ask the group to consider what they value about teamwork? Note the points made, to help build a picture of what you all consider important.
Key word/phrase clustering
  • On the board/flip-chart, write the key words or phrases used to describe team working and successful teams.
  • This may result in some repetition or similarities, so try to reduce these in number by clustering key themes that emerge.
  • Group similar words and phrases and attempt to give the cluster a name which best describes the grouping (it may be one of the words that have been grouped).
  • Encourage the group to engage in this  process. Your role is to facilitate the group’s definition of teamwork, so you should co-ordinate but not control this process.
Your team’s definition of teamwork

Using the cluster words and phrases as a starting point, ask the group to weave the key words/phrase clusters identified into a coherent definition of teamwork. This may take some time and some debate, but that’s healthy! The key aspect of this whole activity is that the team collectively agrees a working definition. This should reflect their view of team working, to encourage their commitment to making it work.

This definition can be polished for discussion at the next team meeting or development session. For example, you can use this teamwork definition activity on its own or preceding the activity which encourages the team to agree the “benefits of teamwork.” Either way, when the team meets again, it will need to check that the definition is still valid and aligned with its goals and any work already begun to achieve them.

More team building activities

Teams e-guidesIf you want to put our teamwork concepts into action, you’ll find more information and a wealth of practical resources, in our colossal Team Building Bundle.

Containing 240 pages and 50 tools, these are the 8 key guides we recommend to help you do more than define teamwork, build it!

Why is Teamwork Important
Build a Better Team
The Problems with Teams
Team Health Check
Team Building Exercises
Leading with Style and Focus
What’s the Problem?
Making Better Decisions


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