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Teamwork Development
Part 3 of 3

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Lean Manufacturing, Basics, Principles, Techniques

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Most of the teams that I have worked with do in fact have some spe­cific goal to achieve. As a matter of fact, Katzenback and Smith in their book High Performing Teams say that it is necessary that a team have a goal. In our discussion of leadership, we talked about the idea of creating a vision of what the future will look like for our team. This is the goal, and we should also understand that it may be an ever-chang­ing goal.

On the other hand, every individual has his or her own personal goals. Some people will never say that they have a goal because they have never been taught to think in terms of goals and objectives. How­ever, everyone has goals even if only to safely get through the day and earn enough to feed their family.

If we wish to grow teamwork, it is important for us to recognize that the individual goals and the team goals may be—nay, probably are—different. The question is, how different? I like to think in terms of arrows representing the goals and objectives of each person and contrast that to the arrow representing the goal of the team. You re­member that old experiment in high school physics class. When we show arrows to represent individual forces, then the geometric combi­nation of the arrows represents the resulting force.

Picture a team of several individuals, where everyone has their own direction to move toward, which is represented by their arrow. Now su­perimpose the direction that the team would like to go and the resulting overall alignment. Alignment is defined as being arranged in a straight line. Are all our arrows aligned in a straight line? One manager said yes, but pulling in opposite directions! We all know that when everyone is pulling in opposite directions, a lot of effort and energy will be expended but no progress made.

We achieve teamwork when all the people exert their efforts to pull together toward a common goal or direction. It is effective teamwork when that direction is also aligned with the goal of the whole team. Please see figure 4. So I call it goal alignment when we can identify how to get all the arrows pulling toward the same direction.


It is necessary to combine (or, as I said earlier, blend) all the skills dis­cussed above. We must have good leadership skills that teach us to have empathy for the people. Take the time to know the people and understand the contribution that each person can make to help the team. We can prac­tice that skill by considering each person as the "apple of my eye."

To be able to have empathy for people, it is essential that we learn how to listen. We each need to cultivate the ability to communicate effectively by becoming very good listeners. Develop the habit of us­ing feedback loops to enhance our understanding of what others are trying to communicate to us.

Then we will be able to apply the third principle—that of goal align­ment. We should be able to see the common ground that exists be­tween our team goals and the goals of each individual. We should be able to see what action each person can and in fact wants to do that will take them closer to their own goals. Those actions at the same time will take the team closer to their overall objective.

When we are able to do these things we should have effective team­work. After all TEAM means "together everyone accomplishes more." As we learn to continuously apply these principles, we will find that we are growing teamwork.

To Be Continued


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