Teamwork Will Happen…If…

from Lumaxart

As Mark Twin would have said, “Everybody talks about teamwork but nobody does much about it.” Teamwork is the Holy Grail of manufacturing and sales/marketing, as much as for sports. But, like the Holy Grail–and despite claims–few know exactly how to create it.

Teamwork exists, but it cannot be sought directly and cannot be commanded or demanded. It occurs as a synergy when each person of the incipient team understands his/her assigned task perfectly; knows how to do–and does–the assigned task in cooperation with others on the incipient team. Teamwork is essentially task-skills oriented. Our willingness to work with others depends on both their task skills and our trust in those intended- teammates’ skills and commitment. Trust and teamwork cannot be coaxed or demanded or bludgeoned into being.

Known–but unrecognized–corroborations from real life:

  • Decades ago, the Hawthorne Effect indicated that employees want to help you succeed. Stop exhorting people re: teamwork. Stop bullying. Stop wishing. Start teaching them how to perfect their assigned tasks and encourage their bonding. Then they’ll be ABLE to do the team’s assigned job!
  • A football team coach (we consider a bully) depended on tongue-lashings to “energize” his players and keep them in line. One defiant player wore a sponsored headband, employing a loophole not appreciated by his coach or League’s advertising contract: a finger salute to the coach. But the player knew his task and did it well; and his teammates trusted him to do it. The team won their share but also lost many. That’s sports; not spectacular.
  • A Chicago basketball team coach and Zen enthusiast ‘encouraged’ and ‘inspired’ his people, perfecting their task skills. They trusted him, their own skills, and their team-commitments. . .and won multiple national championships.
  • When Kobe and Shaq had a long-running feud, the press knew; their early ballgames didn’t show it. Each man knew his task on the court. Each knew and valued the other’s skills and expected that he wouldn’t cheat the team in order to feed the feud. Attitudes changed; break-up followed loss of hoped-for fourth championship. Task skills weren’t the problem!

Don’t ‘demand’ teamwork. That’s the cliche theme of too many sales-related “motivational” films and programs. Film producers (and their staff or free-lance writers who lack corporate training skills) lean on teamwork cliche: “Just do it.” It’s safe–for writers. But worthless.

It’s okay to cheer. Cheers are no substitute for substance. See cheerleaders at every ballgame. How many points do they score?

The single best-selling motivational film of all time is “You Pack Your Own Chute,” by Dr Eden Ryl. No ‘go-team-go.’ Just a psychologist’s view of our need to take responsibility for our own actions. Serious stuff, intelligently presented. “Chute” is still selling, after 30 years. Ryl’s competitors point out that the film’s hair styles and clothes are old. Genius! Why not make a better film? PS: Greta Garbo’s and Charlie Chaplin’s hair styles and clothes are old, too. Moral: View any film before you book it!

Performance skills are scarce. Apparently, expertise requires about 10,000 Hours of “deliberate practice,” according to recent literature and findings. Search “10,000 Hour Rule” on either “Advertising Age” magazine or Google.

Strange ideas, ours? They work: They were developed with well over 12,000 hours of this blogger’s hands-on experience (office hours, plus reality-hours with conventions) and have been proved effective by clients, columns-readers, and other users.

Harold Geneen (once of ITT) wrote “The Myth of Synergy.” Synergy is not a myth–Geneen was criticizing the managerial fad, not the phenomenon. Like teamwork, synergy cannot be sought directly. No synergy in your incipient team? Is their mutual-commitment genuine or just a slap-on-the-back-and-a-beer when watched?  Given mutual concern for the welfare of competent incipient-team ‘mates’ who commit, synergy can take over. Teamwork is an accumulation and accretion of smaller successes in task/job competence–plus the will to do the job with others! Plus our trust in the whole.

Because of numerous failures with empty, but expensive, electronics-based training and distance-learning programs, the meetings industry has been back-tracking. About yr2000, “Training” magazine began pushing that backtracking with challenges. Available:

See; ‘Titles’ page’s ‘Final Thoughts’ segment cites many “Training” magazine attacks on the industry’s sacred cows, detailing the range of meetings-industry problems and biases.

Control of your own meetings, training, team-building, and related group-communications programs depend on your brain, not your budget or technology.

With those read-recommendations accomplished, you will have a fighting chance to construct program agendas, message/contents and tools that themselves have a fighting chance to communicate, train. . .and build teams.

At lower dollar cost. Forever!


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