Most of us believe that the success of a company or an institution lies just in hitting targets, getting lucky in huge investments, and the employee grinding 24/7. While this could be moderately true, I believe that we are not concentrating enough on one key work ethic, which is none other than teamwork and humility. It is also a fact that teamwork is among one of the most important collaboration skills for new hires entering the workforce. In the modern era, where remote work and distributed teams are on the rise, teamwork plays a very crucial role.
Hp, a very successful tech company had to say this about teamwork – “We effectively collaborate, always looking for more efficient ways to serve our customers.”
Let me lay out an analogy to show you how important teamwork is. If you are looking for a super team that serves as a shining example of effective teamwork, I suggest not to look further than the “Beatles.” Yes, you read it correctly. Arguably the most successful musical band of all time, they were only as good as the totality of their individual parts. Even so, their success is incomprehensible like the billions of records they have sold and the huge amounts of accolades they have received. The different talents of each member brought together in unity were able to bring them success. The band’s ability to work as a unit has taken them to stardom. The principles that gave this musical band a sense of teamwork is brilliantly applicable to real-life workplaces. Five examples of characteristics of effective teamwork derived from the Beatles are as follows.
1. Everyone knew their role
It is a well-known fact that the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership is acclaimed. John Lennon had an artistic vision that blended very well with Paul McCartney’s talent in writing pop anthems, along with George Harrison’s highly technical guitar playing and Ringo’s minimalist approach to drum beats, which were able to carry the band to its success. What we can get out of this is that when employees are empowered to engage in tasks that they prefer and are actually good at, it could result in more engaging and productive work. Just like how the individual strengths of the Beatle band members led them to success, employers should be able to understand and embody their roles to unleash their full potential.
2. Teammates were willing to share
We all know that the lead vocalist role of the Beatles band was shared by both Lennon and McCartney, and occasionally it was shared with Ringo too. Even the songwriting aspect was shared between all four members of the band. In short, the members respected each other’s ideas and were more than willing to share creative responsibilities. Similarly, teams in the workplace should also be keen to share with each other. Whether it is insight, ideas, resources, or feedback, sharing will remove any veils among teammates and bring transparency which eventually contributes to building trust within a team.
3. Everybody got along very well
This is where humility comes into place. All the above features in addition to the friendship the band members had and their humility towards each other were what kept them together. They were inseparable, especially in the early years. Needless to say, teams in a workspace also should treat each other with respect and humility but a friendship might not be guaranteed.
4. Everybody communicated on a regular basis
Unfortunately, the band did break up eventually. The breakup can be attributed mainly to a lack of communication between the members. This was evident in the interviews done by them and the bitterness that was caused between Lennon and McCartney over the release dates of their solo records. This is applicable to workplaces too. Everybody should communicate well to stop the misunderstanding from happening and to stop potential tensions in the future. Communication does not necessarily mean endless back and forth emails. What I mean here is about tools such as short daily stand-ups, status updates, chats, and video check-ins. Meetings should be scheduled frequently to monitor progress and to ensure that everybody is on the same page.
5. Lastly, they set goals together and grew together as a team
The Beatle’s trajectory from writing innocent love songs to rock and roll anthems were impressive, to say the least. They were ambitious enough to go this far and they understood their potential and used it to reach their ultimate goals. It is stated in their book “The Beatle’s way” that each Beatle’s goals were set systematically, and they approached these goals “one baby step at a time”. The takeaway from this is that productive teams discuss goals. For a business, this means understanding your big picture and working together to reach those targets.
Not only today but also in the past, companies rely on teamwork to reach targets and to come up with innovative ideas and their implementations. Thus, it is very important that employees learn how to become good team players. Let me reiterate the fact that one has to cultivate humility within himself/herself and practice it in the workplace, to be a good team player.
Hence, what if someone is to say that being a team player and having humility is not important at the workplace? If you still need convincing, let me cut to the chase and bring in the statistics. The Queen’s University of Charlette has stated that, “About 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as very important, yet only 18% of employees get communication evaluations at their performance review”.
This statement shows us that the workforce is still not giving enough validation for teamwork because only 18% of employees get communication evaluations.
Salesforce has found out that “86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failure “. The Mckinsey has stated that “80% of businesses use social collaboration tools for enhancing business processes” and that “97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project”.
Visix.com has stated that “39% of surveyed employees believe that people in their own organization do not collaborate enough”.
These surveys show us that all parties that involve in the businesses and institutions (employees, executives, employers) regardless of their status consider teamwork quite highly. This should be a kind of epiphany to the workforce to understand the importance of humility. Other than achieving success, the surveys have found out that teamwork and humility contribute to a lower employee turnover within an organization.
Gusto states that “54% of employees say a strong sense of community kept them at a company longer than was in their best interest”. This is an additional advantage of teamwork and humility within a workspace.
We also can see how relevant teamwork is nowadays by looking at the following survey result stated by Mercer- “33% of millennials want collaborative workspaces”.
All these statistics validate the importance of teamwork, collaborations, and effective communication and how the lack of these traits will lead to failure within a workplace.
We have so far looked into the importance of teamwork based on statistics and through an analogy of a group of people’s success story. On the other hand, teamwork also provides numerous benefits. It is known to improve productivity among employees. Teams that work together are more motivated towards achieving company goals. Along with the communication aspect, this will reduce delays and friction among teammates which in turn will give higher quality outputs.
I would like to quote Henry Ford here, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success”. It is high time we recognize the importance of group work and practising humility in a workspace to enable the increase of productivity, and thus creating a sense of unity as employees work together to achieve organizational goals.
Exposition Magazine Issue 16
Manikshini De Silva
Department of Industrial Management
University of Kelaniya