The event was a barbecue. Location: A beach way off the beaten path on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, part of the Virgin Islands. Getting to Neltjeberg Beach is not easy and should not be attempted without a four-wheeler on the bumpy dirt road that leads to a secluded stretch of sand.
Once you get there the effort is immediately worthwhile as calm turquoise waters and a beautiful sandy coastline lined with coconut trees come into view. Venture there on a weekday and you can have the entire pristine beach to yourself.
So what do a barbecue and this idyllic spot have to do with leadership and team building? There were about sixteen friends who had decided to take the day off and the only way to pull it off – especially in such a remote location – was for us all to get together. Everyone had something to contribute: from hauling the grill down to the beach to helping cook, burgers (Kobe and veggies), hot dogs, vegetables, drinks, and everything needed for a first-class beach barbecue to bring goods.
Everyone’s contribution working together as a team delivered something that would not have been possible for one person alone. And the sense of togetherness created by the joint effort made it all the more enjoyable and successful.
It is the same within organizations. There are many benefits when workers cooperate and collaborate in teams. An individual’s talent and performance is what gets you till here. As Michael Jordan is credited with saying, “Talent wins games but only teamwork wins championships.”
But many companies lag behind when it comes to developing championship-winning teams within their organizations. As Queen’s University of Charlotte reports:
While nearly three out of four employers consider teamwork and collaboration “very important,” 39% of employees surveyed say people in their organization don’t collaborate enough. Only 27% of employees receive communication training and only 18% of employees receive a communication evaluation at performance reviews.
These are the kinds of numbers that should worry corporate leaders, who must also take into account the benefits offered by a thriving culture of teamwork:
According to a recent study published in Human Resources for Health, when people have the opportunity to work together in a strong group, emotional exhaustion and burnout decrease and professional achievement increases. This is something my team and I have seen firsthand in our work as culture change strategists in companies across the country.
I’ve also experienced that companies that build effective teams see an improvement in trust in each other and in the company. The opportunity to interact and brainstorm leads to a better understanding of each other’s contribution and value.
Trust is all-important. Renowned neuroscientist Paul J. Research by Zak and his team found that compared to people in low-trust companies, people in high-trust companies reported:
106% more energy 76% greater engagement 74% less stress 70% more aligned with company purpose 66% closer to their colleagues 50% more productive 41% greater sense of accomplishment 40% less burnout.
The net result of all this data: 88% more said they would recommend their company as a place to work.
It makes complete sense when you think about it. Solid teamwork boosts performance and productivity. Team members bring their unique skills, knowledge, talents and perspectives to the table and when combined this means that tasks are accomplished faster, more effectively and with higher efficiency than could be achieved by one individual on their own. can get Diversity provides multiple points of input and the combined effort of the team benefits. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts!
This is also where diversity is a proven winner. Studies have shown that diverse groups are more creative and perform up to 35% better than non-diverse units.
Team members working together for a common goal can teach each other. This collaboration is the perfect opportunity for new employees to learn from their more established colleagues and can start with the onboarding process. On the other hand, younger team members can shake up the status quo and educate their older workers by introducing new, offbeat strategies. It is a two way street.
One of the most effective techniques in our corporate trainings across all industries is to divide participants into groups. Inevitably they later comment on how much they learned by interacting with their peers.
Can you innovate yourself? Definitely. But the potential for sparking breakthroughs is greatly increased in a dynamic group with contributions from people with varying experiences and perspectives. Individual intelligence is enhanced through collaboration.
I love the way Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, puts it: “Most people think that success comes from surrounding yourself with others like you. But true success and important innovation involve discomfort.” Discomfort drives you to grow. This is where a difference of experience, opinion, and perspective comes into play. Diversity is a well-documented way of unlocking new opportunities, overcoming new challenges, and gaining new insights. There is a way.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. You’ve heard the saying, but what remains untold is that it is easier for a united group of people to deal with adversity than any one individual. A united team can count on each other and know they are not alone. They can inspire and motivate each other. They can more easily overcome any setbacks or setbacks because they are in it together.
Or to quote the motto of The Three Musketeers in the hugely popular Alexandre Dumas novel of that name: “One for all and all for one.” This is especially important during times of crisis or sudden corporate change when team members can rely on and support each other and adapt to new circumstances.
Teamwork is an essential part of life. Human beings flourish and do their best work when they interact with each other. No one can do it alone whether it’s setting up a barbecue on a remote beach or launching a new company initiative.
Written by Jason Richmond.
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