Super Bowl Reflections – Building a Winning Team at Work

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“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses or the problems of modern society” – Hall of Fame Football coach Vince Lombardi. Vince Lombardi is considered one of the greatest American football coaches in history, and one of the best motivators as well. The National Football League championship trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl, is named after him. With the Super Bowl being played this coming Sunday, there are some lessons from football that can be transferred to the business world as well. Successful employees and departments – like winning sports teams – are usually characterized by hard work, constant preparation, determination, and good leadership. However, teamwork and collaboration during employee training and even post-training everyday activities also play a significant role toward successful workplace performance. 0f95272e-5ced-4e0b-9d8a-f900b0659cba Value of Teamwork and Collaboration Most organizational functions rely on internal collaboration to allow a company to attain its goals. Simple cooperation and coordination are not sufficient to facilitate good decision making. An organization requires collaboration in order to make the right decisions. It is impossible to train employees, reach performance goals or stay ahead of the competition if employees and management are not working together in an effective and efficient way. Collaboration helps to create a culture of positivity, success, and inclusion. Strong collaboration and teamwork can help an organization to overcome the most difficult situations and achieve goals that seemed impossible. It is easier for an organization to overcome difficult things when it has fostered teamwork and collaboration. Collaborative Learning In hierarchical organizations, in-depth training is more often than not offered to new employees. This is based on the assumption that they are the only ones who require training to orient themselves to the new requirements of them. In these organizations, seasoned employees only receive training when they are required to learn a new skill. In addition, training is often “top-down”, and one directional. While in certain ways this is natural, today it can create a sense of friction and resentment among newer team members. Just as in sport, where the best teams are made up of a combination of experienced veteran leaders and youthful, energetic and driven younger teammates, a more level playing field in workplace training is appropriate and strategic. Training managers need to foster teamwork and collaboration during the training process. Find ways to engage and empower young workers, get them involved and make them feel valuable and that they are directly contributing. During the initial learning process and beyond, provide ways that they can receive immediate and relevant assistance in the moment of need, and have them participate in leadership roles, when applicable, such as allowing them to present a certain topic to others. Most employees prefer to learn through experience. Give them that experience. Communication and Transparency “It’s as simple as this. When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, they won’t really get on board.” – Patrick Lencioni. Training managers have to encourage communication and transparency in order to build strong and collaborative teams. Miscommunication often leads to hard feeling and this can undermine a team’s success. To improve communication and transparency employees need to learn how to see things from different angles and recognize and support efforts made by other team members. Periodically ask for and respond to employee feedback, and let them know that you value their feedback. It is also important to address any misunderstanding promptly and accurately. Trust Collaboration and teamwork is not possible if you do not develop trust in the organization. Collaboration is not limited to the organization. It has to include the suppliers and customers. If an organization does not foster trust, it can only achieve cooperation and instead of collaboration. Focus on building trust between employees, management, suppliers, and customers during training. The most effective partnerships are built when there is mutual trust within an organization. Developing a Trust Culture To foster a culture of teamwork in an organization, management has to let employees know that it expects collaboration and teamwork. You should train employees to be receptive and open to input and ideas from their colleagues. Employees and management need to know that they do not own a particular work area or process by themselves. Management plays a very important role in developing a trust culture and this is why they should take an active role in employee training methods. Managers have to model teamwork as they interact with one another. They need to demonstrate teamwork even when things seem difficult. Train managers to be a good example to the employees by teaching them how to collaborate in challenging situations. Training managers need to create teams that are equipped to deal with everyday issues in the workplace. Offer training on systematic techniques to allow teams to apply their energy on projects instead of spending time trying to figure out how they can team up to solve issues. Make training a fun activity that involves everyone in the organization. Hold training sessions in interesting locations. Organize dinners, sporting events, hikes, and visits to amusement parks. These are fun ways to let both employees and management know that collaboration and teamwork are important for the organization’s success. Celebrate teams that succeed during training. This is an effective way to motivate employees and management to work together. Offer gift certificates or trophies to teams that perform well during training to encourage teamwork and collaboration. If you follow some of these main concepts, I think you’ll find success. As to the Super Bowl, enjoy the game!