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Obstacle #3 to Teamwork – Individuals focused on themselves and not the team (Teamwork Tuesday)

{ 8 comments… add one }

I asked the question on several LinkedIn Groups “What is so difficult about teamwork?” I received well over 200 responses. My intention was to rank each of them and then figure out ways we can create better teamwork.

Today we will discuss obstacle number three – Individuals focused on themselves and not the team.

  1. Lack of a competent leader (27)
  2. Lack of goals and goal alignment (26)
  3. Individuals focused on themselves and not the team (21)
  4. Lack of understanding of team members (20)
  5. Lack of clarity on team roles, the purpose or vision of the team (15)
  6. Lack of focus on team rewards and appreciation (12)
  7. Lack of spending time together as a team (9)
  8. Poor communication (8)
  9. Lack of trust (7)
  10. Lack of accountability (6)

So the question is how do we get people to think team instead of me? What have you done or seen others do? Maybe we can't do it? What do you think? Please scroll down and add your comments. Let’s discuss.

Mike Rogers

Leave a Comment

  • Sophie Giamos-Zarlenga August 19, 2009, 7:30 am

    The structure needs to be in place, Teamwork is a process. Organizational alignment-so congruent with management style, – motivators, intrinsic, extrinsic rewards.
    In the organization I work for (Practice Firm, employment program) the team roles: time keepers, process drivers, leaders etc are shared on a rotating basis. This allows all of our participants to learn the various tasks involved, this exercise helps to develop respect for the different roles-and I think, helps our participants to become expert team players.

  • Mike Rogers August 19, 2009, 9:58 am

    This is interesting Sophie. Are there lapses though when someone takes on the role of team leader, for example, and isn’t very effective. I can understand the rotating roles of time keepers for example, that is fairly easy to manage, but not everyone can be effective at leading the team or driving processes. There are different gifts and talents on teams. How do you account for this? Great comments, thanks.
    – Mike

  • patti August 19, 2009, 6:53 pm

    I don’t know that I agree with the comment that Teamwork is a process.
    If you are going to have individuals take roles to learn the various tasks, do you prepare them with how to work in these roles? I have seen people take on new roles without preparation; it causes disruptions in the business and a decrease in morale.
    Promoting Teamwork needs to be a positive experience. In a corporation, a suggestion may be to move away from rewarding individuals (for example) for taking the most calls, placing the most orders and create more team goals so that only as a group can there be growth and rewards. It can be demoralizing to individuals and the department morale to see one or two people always being recognized.
    There are ways to build in activities, goals and training so that everyone can discuss and practice what an organization is trying to achieve. By discussing as a group and working together through these sessions, they will create the sense of team all on their own.

  • Mike Rogers August 20, 2009, 11:19 am

    Thanks Patti. I agree with you, team goals and rewards are critical to teamwork. When individuals awards are the only types of rewards then you will always get team members that care more about their own goals and agendas, than the teams. Ego, pride, career aspirations, money etc… will interfere heavily with focusing on the team results.

  • Todd Beeson August 20, 2009, 3:16 pm

    I agree that individuals will always focus on themselves and not the good of the team/org. I believe this is where leadership must step in to rally the troops toward a common goal….
    (comment left on LinkedIn)

  • Michael Martines August 20, 2009, 3:20 pm

    My experience has taught me that trust is a more important component in a successful team than individual talent. I spent 6 years in the military and learned, through many experiences, that no matter how personally capable any individual may be, if the team members do not trust each other, the team will flounder.
    (comment posted on LinkedIn)

  • John August 21, 2009, 2:52 pm

    I think part of the issue is that, at least for those of us in the US, our education system is decidedly anti-team. Sure, some schools have team projects, But the P-12 system is focused on individual achievement, for the most part.
    Instead of making virtually all homework individual assignments, our schools need to focus on teams and teambuilding at an early age. Group (team) projects need to be a regular part of the curriculum, not a once-a-year thing.
    If people were used to team projects in P-12 and college/university, they would be more able to function within a team and focus on the team. As it stands, our schools’ grading system rewards individual effort: teamwork is seldom rewarded. Until this changes people will likely continue to focus on themselves instead of the team.

  • Michael Rogers August 22, 2009, 2:21 pm

    Great comments John. I think you are right on. This isn’t something I have thought about before. I agree, let’s do a lot more teamwork in the schools. Most of what we do as adults involves teamwork, whether that be a family, work, athletics, committees etc… However, don’t get me started on K-12 education : ) That’s a whole blog in itself : ) Thanks for your comments.


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