At home, at work, at church ... Good teams take work, but they're a great tool for success.
How many times have you given up trying to solve a problem or get through a project? Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem possible to achieve our goals; we get overwhelmed by the number of things that need to be done, and the many different activities and skills required. Maybe the problem is that we’re trying to go it alone — or we haven’t coordinated our work properly with others.
Today more than ever, teamwork is a basic and primary need if we want to get things done — whether at home, at work, or at church. It’s key to success, because through teamwork, we can leverage the different knowledge, skills, availability, etc., of a group of people, so as to multiply each person’s productivity while reducing their efforts, thus increasing efficiency.
Sometimes a team forms naturally — for example, every family should be a team. Other times, teams are the result of our own initiative, or are imposed on us by an organization where we work or volunteer. In all cases, however, there are certain factors we must take into account.
To develop healthy teamwork, we need to start with the right foundation:
First steps before launching a team project
Make goals. These must specific and realistic, and must be shared and discussed with the whole team.
Define Functions. Delegating functions gives greater order and prevents redundancies and wasted time— or worse, no activity at all due to a lack of organization. If the team is a family, for example, who is in charge of finances? Who washes the dishes? In a more formal team, who is the secretary?
Specify the rules. First, the team must agree on who is the leader, and put their support behind him or her. (Often, especially in the family or at work, the leadership roles are predetermined.) Then, the members of the team must all commit to fulfilling their tasks in a timely manner. Other rules will also be needed, such as procedures to be followed, reporting, etc.
Availability to solve conflicts. It is critically important to be able to solve conflicts immediately and privately, without publicly blaming others. Conflicts will always come up in a team, and can lead to serious problems, even the team’s disintegration. It can be helpful to have defined ways of dealing with conflict, including a neutral arbiter to help resolve persistent disagreements.
Know how to celebrate successes. It is important to celebrate your small successes along the way, since these will always bring more motivation to go after the main goals. If your team is in charge of youth ministry at your parish, celebrate the end of retreats or activities with a pizza party; at the end of the school year, before everyone goes away on vacation, go on a Marian pilgrimage to a favorite shrine.
How can you enhance teamwork? Use the 5 Cs …
More and more experts are advising professional teams to use the “5 Cs,” which are an easy way to remember many of the points listed above.
Complementarity: Each of the members of a team have different abilities, so each one must take charge of a certain section or task.
Coordination: The team needs a leader who coordinates and organizes all the work.
Communication: There must be optimal communication among all team members. Nobody can remain isolated or refrain from giving their opinion, because all the parts of the puzzle are needed to achieve the goal.
Confidence: Team members must trust their teammates and know that they are not working for personal interests, but for the common good and for shared success.
Commitment: There must be a commitment on the part of all team members to achieve the main objective.
The exact way to implement these ideas depends on each team; while the basic principles are the same, it’s one thing to be in a business environment, and another to be on a volunteer team at a soup kitchen or to be working with your family as a team to help each other grow in responsibility, maturity, love, and holiness. In any case, teamwork can be a great help; after all, Christ Himself chose a team—the twelve Apostles—to establish the Church on earth. Apply these principles as best you can, and you can be sure you will see the results, especially if the Holy Spirit is, at least implicitly, part of your team.