A Model of Teamwork

A Model Team - photo by Andy Robbins

I recently had the driveway at our new house paved. I was curious to see the process. It is not every day you get one of those large asphalt laying machines driving up to your house. As interesting as that process was, I was more interested by the teamwork exhibited by the crew. Here was a group of six people who worked excellently as a team.

They hadn’t received any teamwork training and they had been working together for somewhere between 6 months and two years. This sounds about the same as many teams I work with and yet this team performed so much better than most I work with. What made their teamwork stand out?

I observed six attributes of a high performing team:

Communication

The team members were communicating constantly. There was lots of chatter and interestingly much of it was direct. Laying asphalt is time critical as it gets harder to work with over time. Each team member seemed very comfortable calling each other out, especially when they saw something that needed to change.

Clear Roles

The six members of the team seemed to have clear roles. They each performed specific activities and they were also flexible and willing to take on other roles as the situation dictated. They knew the other roles sufficiently well to do this.

Skill

Each team member was skilled enough to do their job well. Working on an asphalt team, I doubt there is much value in becoming an expert. Good enough is the name of the game along with a broad understanding of the skills needed across the team.

Respected Leader

It was very clear who was the leader of the team. Team members deferred to their authority. Most importantly, they respected the leader in a positive way. They recognized his knowledge and expertise, and his authority, following his decisions. They did this willingly, he had clearly earned their respect.

Customer Orientation

This team knew what a good outcome was. At the same time they were cognizant of the customers expectations. I shared an observation which they listened to and took seriously. It would have been easier to dismiss it because what did I know but they were curious and open to it.

Fun

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, this team was having fun together. Yes, they were direct with each other and the leader held every team members accountable. Above all of this, they had fun together and seemed to enjoy each other’s company. That must be very difficult to achieve in a job like this which is hard work. No doubt the factors above played into this.

How does your team compare to this one?

 

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