It’s a premise of many economic theories that people seek to maximize their own interest in any given situation. And that may well be true since people often fail to recognize that they can serve their own interests best by cooperating with one another.

Teamwork and cooperation

Teamwork and cooperation are absolutely essential just about any work situation with a few rare exceptions like bridge attending, light housekeeping and nighttime security work.

So, what is teamwork? What makes people cooperate and why is it so utterly important and sometimes so difficult to get a group of individuals to come together and function effectively as a unit?

Cooperation: willingness and common purpose

The word cooperation has been defined as a willingness to work or act together for a common purpose or benefit. There are there fore two critical elements in that definition: willingness and common purpose.

When people cooperate with each other they demonstrate not only an understanding that they share the same goal but a willingness to work together to get there. They don’t just work side-by-side they jump in they pull their weight people pick up the slack and kick in to help each other out so that they can get things done.

Teamwork: a cooperative and coordinated effort

Teamwork is a cooperative and coordinated effort on the part of a group of people working together with a unifying cause our goal. To have teamwork you need to have cooperation for sure but the definition makes it clear that the groups activity is coordinated and the group members are unified by their common purpose.

Teamwork takes cooperation up a notch so instead of just helping each other out randomly or when you need to people who are engaged in teamwork work together in a coordinated fashion and they help each other on an ongoing basis to accomplish a goal that binds together their interests.

Teams, not just groups of people

We frequently referred to groups of people in our workplace as teams, we say things like our executive team or our office team. We’ve got a strong sales team or that our research team is very very productive.

We use the word to describe a sense of unity associated with people working together and it has a really good ring to it, but simply calling a group of people a team does not make them a team. A team is a group of individuals with complementary skills and roles who are committed to a common purpose and who are accountable to each other.

Leadership: someone must focus the team’s effort

Teamwork also implies leadership someone must focus our bridle the team’s effort in order to directed towards an appropriate objective.  Based on these definitions teamwork and cooperation are clearly valuable in a work environment in order to get anything done.

But what exactly goes wrong when people do not work as a team? Well, there are a wide range of troublesome outcomes a real plague if you would that occur when workers and especially leaders choose not to cooperate and work together.

No teamwork, no results

A lack of teamwork and cooperation drives communication breakdowns which in turn decreases performance and productivity. When people are not willing to pull in the same direction resources and energy are wasted morale plummets an effective coordination and planning of activities tend to break down or maybe even cease to exist altogether.

When we don’t work together we can quickly find ourselves working against each other which can be pretty sad and maybe even painful. When the members of an organization are not pulling in the same direction problems are left unresolved and broken processes remain in place.

No teamwork, bad conflict management

An increase in all sorts of conflict, whether it’s between individuals that were not getting along or workgroups or departments that are at each other’s throats for whatever reason is commonly noted.

Lack of teamwork and unity can easily cause any organization to degenerate into a political jungle where people lose sight of what they’re ultimately trying to accomplish and to, no one’s surprise, when cooperation and teamwork are found lacking there is increased job-related stress frustration and workplace tension that makes it more difficult for people to come to work.

Advertisements