Monday Mornings with Madison


It is fairly accepted wisdom that by working together, more can be achieved.  On the heels of the New Orleans Saints winning the 2010 Super Bowl, we are reminded that ‘none of us is as strong as all of us.’  There is a great parable that drives home the point of teamwork. 

As the story goes, there were four people whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. They worked at YourCompany.  Now there happened to be an important job to do at YourCompany. At YourCompany’s staff meeting, Everbody was asked to do the task. Everbody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but didn’t. Somebody didn’t want to do it and got angry because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. The important job did not get done.

Although reminiscent of an Abbott and Costello routine, this parable makes the point that without teamwork, nothing gets done and no one gets ahead.  With teamwork, no one falls behind and all are rewarded. Yet, a team is more than just a group of people who work at the same place or the collective talent of many individuals. Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. It is the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

If teamwork is universally accepted as valuable, then why is it so hard for people to work as a team… especially these days?  With unemployment up and jobs scarce, a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality threatens teamwork in many workplaces.  A primal desire to stay employed pushes some to assertively – read aggressively – push their own agenda and need to shine above the goals of the team.  What do you do when that happens?

Just ask any football coach in America and they will tell you the first step is for everyone to understand that teamwork means more “we” and less “me”… and that by working together – building, linking, sharing, lifting, pulling, supporting, helping, encouraging – more can be accomplished.  Your staff also needs to understand that there is enough spotlight to go around, and that team players gleam brighter than those who try to shine on their own.

There are also some steps you can take to help build teamwork at your company.  Here are five tips to follow.

1.  Set clear expectations: One of the key characteristics of a successful team is clear role delineation of every team member – every person has to know the role he or she is expected to play in the company as well as the roles of the other team members. Then, the business owner or department manager needs to ensure that every employee in that group clearly understands how and where he/she fits in the organizational structure. Use organizational charts and staff meetings to facilitate this understanding.

2.  Create channels of communication: Create and maintain open channels of communication with your employees. This must not only be between you and your employees, but also among the staff. Further, create an atmosphere where your employees know you are always available to listen to their concerns. Also encourage them to discuss genuine issues amongst themselves. Without free and unfettered communication, team-building is only a distant dream.

3.  Develop conflict resolution skills and strategies: Getting a group of people to work together is not easy. There will invariably be times when the going gets rough and differences surface. Develop conflict resolution skills among your employees and create a mechanism for addressing grievances… when/if they can’t resolve their problems on their own.  If necessary, arrange for professionals to conduct workshops on this subject.

4.  Establish accountability and recognize results: Make team members feel responsible and accountable for team achievements. Enable them to understand that each individual contribution is a vital piece in the whole picture. At the same time, encourage individual creativity to blossom by instituting a system of rewards and recognition.

5.  Celebrate team achievements as a team: Celebrate successes as a group. Since every employee plays an important part in the success or failure of the business, it only makes sense to celebrate achievements as a team. Depending on the size of the achievement, the celebration can be as simple as a pizza party or as spectacular as a company trip.

Remember, coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success. 


“Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.” Brian Tracy

© 2010 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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