Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

It’s incredible what a single individual can achieve, but the truth is none of us truly do anything completely alone. It’s even more impressive what can be accomplished as a group. A swimmer like Katie Ledecky or a track and field athlete such as Carl Lewis may compete individually, but each athlete has a whole team of coaches and trainers helping them. Whether you’re part of a professional team or a group of volunteers, here are five tips to help you improve your teamwork.

  1. Have a Plan
    Start with a plan, but don’t stop at the first draft. When you have your first plan, bring your whole team into the planning process. They may have insights or may spot holes you haven’t thought of. When teams put their brainpower together, it can be far more effective than one person thinking alone.

  2. Communicate Effectively
    Communication is key to teamwork. But remember to operate on multiple channels. Not all people learn effectively the same way. Some people absorb more information visually. Others respond more to audible instructions. You need to develop plans and communicate important information and reinforce it visually, verbally, and with text. Create reference materials people can check if they get lost or forget information.

  3. Know Your Role
    Teams need contributions from both superstars and role players. Kevin Durant didn’t win a gold medal against Spain playing one-on-five. Everyone must contribute to the team’s overall success. Everyone must know their role and perform at it. While some roles may seem more important than others, the whole team is important to achieving a goal. Knowing your role also means making sure you have enough time to take care of your responsibilities before you jump in to help others. If you don’t, you may drop the ball.

  4. Leaders as Facilitators
    Some people have a misconception of what it means to be in charge. Being a leader doesn’t mean bossing people around or holding and exercising power. A good leader is a facilitator who is there to serve the people under their leadership. A good leader is in the business of giving people what they need to complete their goals. An Olympic coach is doing their job when giving the athlete exactly what they need when they need it to win throughout the life of the training and competition.

  5. A Winning Culture
    A good culture is a culture of respect. Team members are at their best when they have mutual respect for each other. Sometimes this means putting aside your ego. More than one U.S. President said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Good teams are on the same page. Good teammates are selfless and sacrifice individual achievement for the greater good of the team. Just like in an Olympic water polo game, a few good assists can lead to more points than all the missed shots in the world. Pass the ball.

Few of us ever achieve the great heights of an Olympic medalist, but we can apply some of the same teamwork skills as Team USA. By using team skills and thinking like a facilitator, your team can achieve greater heights.

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