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Welcome Team Members! By joining a team, you have a great opportunity to contribute your energy and ideas to making things work better. It could be great for your development and your career, too. But you might be wondering what teamwork is all about.

The business world keeps changing right before our eyes in so many ways. You were hired because you’re good at a specific job or skill. Then all of a sudden someone decides that you and your co-workers should work together in a team. Maybe that was a shock or a rude awakening. It could be difficult if you don’t understand how teamwork differs from individual activity.

Webster’s dictionary says that a team is two or more horses harnessed to the same plow.

Maybe that’s why some people get the idea that teams exploit, stress, and squeeze them. However, that’s not why modern teams are launched, or how they work.

Why do organizations form teams? Your department might want to get people from different groups together to solve a problem. Maybe the competition is doing better so you need to improve how you do things. Maybe you need to enhance service, delivery time, or quality. Or maybe your manager wants to tap the combined brain power of the whole staff.

Whatever the reason, teams can benefit both the company and you. What’s in it for you? You can learn more about your product, service, and business. You can get exposed to other functions in the organization. You can build better working relationships with others. You can get a chance to contribute some of your special talents, and influence how things are done where you work. And all of this can help you get noticed for advancement.

A good team is a group of willing and trained individuals who are:

United around a common goal

Structured to work together

Sharing responsibility for their task

Depending on each other

Empowered to implement consensus decisions

Teamwork doesn’t happen automatically. You’ll require some input, support, and allowance for growing pains. Your group becomes a team when you get involved, briefed, trained, and prepared, and you accept the challenge.

There are different types of teams. You could be recruited for a period of time to help accomplish a complicated task, solve a problem, improve a work process, or develop a new product. You could be invited to join an existing team with your work group. Whatever kind of team you’re on, you will be required to communicate and cooperate.

The revised edition of this book expands upon the basic lessons contained in the first edition, with an updated case study and a new section on virtual teaming to reflect trends in today’s workplace. When you and your teammates decide that you’re all in it together, you’ll start working more closely with each other. If you’re also given the power to act on what you decide, you’ll know what high-performance teamwork can be.

Sandy Pokras

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