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Teamwork Principles

Teamwork principles can often be lost in the day-to-day busyness of work. We all know the value of teamwork – or do we?

Think for a moment, if you were asked what does teamwork mean to you, what would you say? Perhaps it’s everybody pulling their weight, or everyone pulling in the same direction.

Maybe it’s about getting help when you need it, or sharing an exciting vision of the future?

Effective Team Working Principles

In their excellent book: “The Wisdom of Teams”, Katzenbach and Smith found that teams respond to performance challenges and not to managers’ exhortations for more “teamwork.” What did lead to the greatest success with teams? Organisations committed to high-performance standards, and willing to modify individual accountability requirements toward team rewards. Katzenbach and Smith argued that:

“Most people simply do not apply what they already know about teams in any disciplined way and thereby miss the performance potential within existing teams, much less seek out new potential team opportunities”.

So what should be in place for teamwork principles to work better?

  • Strengths – a team works best when the strengths of individuals are combined together.
  • Teamwork – an attitude and sense that individuals can support each other so that their strengths combine to enhance what they do.
  • Alignment – the stengths of individuals and the support of colleagues are directed towards meaningful goals in the organisation.
  • Results – the team Focuses on delivering results it has a clear performance focus.

Teamwork does not develop in isolation. The organisation needs to create the conditions to enable teamwork to deliver improved performance.

Central to encouraging teamworking is the idea of subsidiary. The principle of subsidiary places decisions and authority as close to the action as possible. Doing this gives teams the authority to achieve worthwhile goals. According to Stuart Crainer :

The key to success does not appear to lie in the selection of team members. Success of teams is often characterised by the granting of power and responsibility to teams’


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