The importance of teamwork in the workplace

Last week I attended a business conference in Atlanta, Ga. The most inspirational session was a presentation by keynote speaker Pat Lencioni.

Last week I attended a business conference in Atlanta, Ga. The most inspirational session was a presentation by keynote speaker Pat Lencioni.

Patrick Lencioni is the founder and president of The Table Group, an internationally-respected consulting firm that works with companies to develop effective and cohesive leadership and work teams.

Lencioni is also a dynamic speaker and writer. He is the author of several books, including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. This book was written 12 years ago, is still on best-sellers lists today, and one I refer to regularly.

His more recent book, The Advantage, is excellent! In this book, Lencioni presents an “overwhelming case that organizational health will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage.”

So if genuine teamwork is gaining credibility as the ultimate competitive advantage in business, why is it so difficult to achieve?

The fact is, it takes knowledge, commitment and perseverance to make it a reality.

Over the past 10 years, working with over 100 businesses in the region, I’ve yet to work with a business that has not encountered issues related to building and maintaining high-functioning teams.

The symptoms are often described as office politics, emotional drama, loss of productivity, frustration related to hiring and retaining staff, the perceived lack of responsibility and accountability. The concept of teamwork is fairly common: a group of people working to reach their goal(s). Individuals bring personal skills, strengths and abilities together in order to produce a desirable end.

Teamwork is something experienced early in childhood. Kids catch on early.

Your first model is the family unit. If a family values and displays open communication and personal differences, plus expects conflict to be dealt with in a positive manner, there is a good chance these values will be carried forward into adulthood.

If not, a lifetime of mistrust and destructive problem-solving is usually the outcome.

Children encounter teams every day. Schools now design classrooms and activities so that students work collaboratively on projects while developing leadership skills.

Athletics and team sports can develop skills and self-confidence while setting high team standards. This depends on good leadership and supportive coaching. Too often, winning at all costs is the experience.

So it’s obvious that our lifetime of experiences are carried forward into the workplace, an area where we spend most of our waking hours each day.

With the rapid world-wide changes, business can no longer rely on individual effort to succeed.

Many companies are separated by substantial distances; people aren’t present at the same work site.

Today’s reality is that organizations will encounter employees with diverse cultures, backgrounds and experiences.

The ability to lead and work in a team environment is critical. Business owners and managers want staff who are responsible and accountable for their share of the outcome. Staff want to trust management, and be treated fairly and with respect.

Developing teams that are capable of communicating and working together effectively increases efficiencies and productivity.

The first requirement is the belief that a cohesive team is a valuable asset.

Then learning the key principles and integrating them into a business is necessary.

It is possible to create a culture of teamwork.

It takes a willingness to tackle the difficult transition.

I believe that the values in true teamwork sustain individuals and promotes overall wellbeing.

These qualities are what healthy businesses are looking for.

Establishing a team culture is the responsibility of the leaders first.

Creating or changing this culture is not without challenges. There are many pros and cons, depending on the issues. However results will outweigh the resistance.

Getting your team to understand and value that thinking, planning, decision-making and actions get better results when tackled co-operatively.

Look for more details in building cohesive teams in upcoming columns.

ActionCoach is written by John MacKenzie of ActionCoach, which helps small- to medium-sized businesses and other organizations. He can be contacted at or by phone at 403-340-0880.

Just Posted

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month