Teamwork: A Matter Of Tolerating Or Celebrating Differences?

Ask a business owner the secret behind their success and you’d hear something like “the key is teamwork”. Ever wondered why that is? According to what I have gathered, teamwork is known to improve communication, increase efficiency while providing an environment that makes the employees feel empowered giving them a sense of belonging. When teamwork is good, it boosts the morale of employees, bringing in more profit.

This is what Babe Ruth had to say about teamwork, and I quote “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

To further emphasize the importance of teamwork let’s take the example of soccer. To take the perfect shot, players in the team pass the ball to each other working as a single unit with just one aim which is to win. The same is the case in your work environment, where you are part of a team that works together to achieve the same goal.

In this modern age, a majority of business leaders have already shunned the old individualistic approach to working and replaced it with a structure that supports team-work.

Being a part of a great team is an amazing experience. You feel excited and ready to take on any challenge thrown at you. Isn’t it extraordinary to have this kind of security and confidence that brings out the best in you? Consider yourself lucky if you are aware of that feeling.

On the contrary, when there is a lack of communication and existing trust issues among employees, the chances of people working effectively in a team are slim. It becomes a little tricky when it’s not coming naturally, and in those challenging circumstances, you could use strategies that help you grow as a team.

For instance, you want to grow an apple tree that bears good fruit, would you throw the seeds in the soil and just command the seeds to turn into a tree? The answer is ‘no’, right? First, you’ll find out what it requires to grow and then provide it with that kind of environment (sunlight, water, etc). Teamwork works the same way, that if you provide a surrounding that is conducive to it, group work will be efficient and fruitful.

So, if you are trying to know what teamwork is all about and in what ways you can make it better keep reading this article because it’s for you.

Team building activities

Building up teams comes as a huge challenge to most organizations as productivity highly depends on your team’s performance. Therefore, it is important to create teams that are diverse where everybody has a unique role to play.

Team building

Simple team building activities are used to enhance relationships within employees as they boost self-esteem and increase productivity, but most importantly they allow teammates to gain an insight into each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Four types of team-building activities are utilized in a working environment;

  • Problem-solving
  • Planning
  • Trust-building
  • Communication

The main idea behind a team-building exercise is to have fun, along with the development of teamwork skills that improve performance in general.

Teamwork and collaboration

It’s good to use different activities in a workplace to improve teamwork because what makes a team successful is effective collaboration and without it, your team won’t amount to anything.
86% of employees and executives state that workplace failures are a result of a lack of collaboration.

Collaboration requires a mix of skills like communication, problem-solving, and adaptability which are fundamental for teamwork. It’d be a struggle to work as a team without developing this kind of skill set.

collaboration

The fact is that teamwork and collaboration are interdependent, and a team can only start working on a task once collaborations get established.
Still wondering why collaboration matters so much? Well then let’s discuss its benefits elaborately.

Improved flexibility

With a collaborative team, it becomes fairly easy for your organization to adapt to sudden change. Teamwork makes it less difficult to handle the ever-changing demands of the customer, as more brainpower means more ideas making problem-solving easier.

Engaged employees

Ever dealt with employees that appear to have a lack of interest in performing tasks? In situations like those teamwork can be the perfect solution as working together in a group establishes a spirit of camaraderie in the employees which keeps them engaged.

Increased diversity

The opportunity to work with different types of people from various departments allows the exchange of information which increases the knowledge of employees.

More creative ideas

Is teamwork easy? Not really, but it is worth it because the pros outweigh the cons. What’s the silver lining to the cloud of friction that it produces? Providing you with innovative ideas, as diverse brains sit and think together.

Without ideas that are out of the box, you can’t keep up with changing trends and demands. Yahoo is a clear example of that.

Yes, teamwork allows you to work with a diverse workforce which comes with its own challenges, but what do you do when you are working in an organization where people from different cultural backgrounds are a part of the team? You give importance to learning about cultural differences in your workplace.

Knowing how people from a variety of different backgrounds can co-exist while keeping the work environment friendly and collaborative is important when you are a business owner. With everything getting globalized, most people are experiencing working in a multicultural workplace. It’s unavoidable when almost every business has branches at different locations.

Cultural diversity is known to impact team performance, and that is why the trend of going multicultural is increasing. The benefits are endless, from giving you a wide range of skill sets to sharing different kinds of experiences that can be utilized to create multi-talented teams.

Types of cultural differences at the workplace

Racial

The impact of racial and ethnic differences is huge. Direct communication may be the norm in some cultures, in others a casual and friendly way would be considered normal. That is why it’s important to take notice of cultural differences in communication so a proper understanding can be developed, without anybody getting offended.

Generational

Generations can dictate the ideas a person might have about professionalism, collaboration, communication, and even workplace culture. A baby boomer would be okay with having a long-term career in one place, whereas millennials seek opportunities that allow consistent growth even if it means switching to another company.

Religious

Religious beliefs strongly influence people’s values. What’s ethical in one religion might not be ethical in another, which can impact decision-making at the workplace. I believe people should be free to express themselves, that is why policies should be set in place that let people practice their religion freely at the office.

Impact of cultural differences at a workplace

Let me give you some examples of how cultural differences impact the workplace.

Cultural differences in Communication

According to how we are raised, our communication always differs from each other. Europeans maintain eye contact and are very direct when conversing, which implies that rejecting requests and saying no might come easily to them. On the other hand, people that have a Native American origin might consider direct eye contact to be intimidating and in order to come off as polite, they would use indirect way of communication, making suggestions, not demands.

Cultural differences in giving feedback

The way people give feedback also differs across various cultures. In China, you are not allowed to criticize your superiors in any way. So, for a person who has moved from China to the U.S, being vocal at group conversations in the workplace might not be possible.

Teamwork has its charms, but it is able to celebrate differences only when a team is able to collaborate effectively. The best way to work effectively with others is to first acknowledge the differences and come to a point of understanding. Diverse teams might go through more conflicts, but disagreements should be seen as an opportunity to learn from each other.

Bushra Arif

A molecular geneticist who has a passion for photography. A part-time free baby sitter, whose one and only love is her niece.

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