Team work is essential in today’s work environment. We all at some point have experienced how important it is to work in teams. And it is advocated by many authorities as a necessity for organizational success.

The question however is how much we actually appreciate the rewards of team work. To begin with, from my own experience though; many are actually not raised to see the importance of the team.  Let’s look at the family unit to begin with. I remember growing up with my siblings and this competitive trait that I had.

Our efforts as children most times was individualistic, I wanted to impress our parents and sometimes my parents would say “Oh you do a better job at doing whatever task that had to be done than so and so”. Sometimes there were comparisons done by our parents comparing a child with another.

Then getting to school most class work and assignments were individualistic efforts. And one had to show oneself to be brighter or smarter than others in the class. When we had group works, the focus was on whose work was the best among everyone else’s.


A good example of how performance at school was meant to be a personal effort was the examination time and it still is though. During an examination one has to show he/she has learnt all that has been taught and team work during examinations is called cheating!

Of course we would appreciate how examinations are individualistic efforts. The focus here though is that many of us when growing up and passing through the school system were not well prepared for the team spirit required to excel in organizations that require this.

The exception to this is those who were athletes and participated in team sports. Team sports teach that the team is greater than the individual. Team sports are competitive and the best teams are those that well, play as a team!

When many of us get out of college and seek employment, we do so as individuals and seek to showcase how suitable we are for the position, how intelligent, how suitable we are for the job. Then we do get in we begin to realize that we cannot afford to neglect the team as no one person by himself/ herself can achieve overall success in an organisation not even the CEO, and that is why employees are needed in the first place.


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We have to agree that not all organizations fully appreciate the importance of teams and that is why such organizations are not fulfilling their potentials as they ought to. One way to gauge how management views the team is to see what gets rewarded in the system. Many organizations have awards for the best sales person and the like; only a handful actually has recognition in place for the teams that do excel.

So how do organizations encourage team work? A good way to start is to reward team work. Managers should encourage employees to have projects that they work on as a team and to ensure that they have the time to bond and get to develop the trust that is needed to excel. The thing is management has to model what is required. Do employees trust management?

Trust can only be earned and not enforced or coerced. So the company must show fidelity and commitment to those values that have been agreed upon. People know when there is an atmosphere of sincerity and when lip service is enshrined.

Another important thing is how are the decisions reached in the first place? Is there participation by employees or do they just get to accept what is handed down to them. Is there a feedback system? Do people’s opinions count beyond the mere statement of this?

Are values respected by all, or are there those for whom the standards are relaxed? People get to discover when such happens and would reward such a system with apathy and disregard. So one of the first places to check,  when fostering team spirit is the transparency of the value system.

People naturally would first of all look out for self preservation, and that’s what happens when we have an organisation that does not encourage a team culture, people begin to look out for themselves as it were; since no one can be trusted to do this. It is important to have managers that truly look out for their people; this is a very essential ingredient. When an employee knows that he is important and that his/ her manager cares, h/she would be able to do much more.


When we get the relationship between the manager and the employee on the right  track, it won’t be difficult to bond a team because the manager mirrors what is expected in the team. When a team member realizes that he can be vulnerable in the team and people are out to support him not just at work related concerns but at issues that sometimes can be personal. When h/she feels comfortable to share matters that are personal without a fear of judgment, it can go a long way in showing it is a safe environment.

It has to be appreciated that employees are human beings and function as such. Work is a part of our lives but when a work environment recognizes that there are other aspects of our lives and makes efforts to ensure those aspects are catered for, the more we can get done.

For instance a day care center at work, an equipped hospital, are just two of those initiatives when taken by an organization help show people that their humanity is understood. When people are at ease at work, they get at ease with each other. They see what behaviors are encouraged and they reciprocate in most cases.

An employee who had the listening ear of the supervisor during a time of trying personal need is more likely to extend the same gesture to a fellow employee when the need arises and the cycle continues and before you know it we have a culture of care and concern in that organization.

Teams and the trust that can be grown in such teams are essential in all organizations that truly excel in the long haul. Companies which excel without strong teams usually do so for just a short while.

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