June 2019 SME Newsletter

Teamwork and Obstacle Courses

The definition of an obstacle course is to “negotiate a series of difficulties in order to achieve a particular aim”. Over the last couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to observe several groups of children as they work through an obstacle course that was set up to teach them the importance of working together. As they worked through the course, it became clear that they started to become more dependent on each other to accomplish the task. And as I watched I thought about how using teamwork to overcome obstacles in our own organizations benefits everyone. 

The concept of teamwork is not a new one, in fact, as author Annie Sisk describes in her article The Importance of Teamwork, “The importance of teamwork in business seems apparent enough to the casual observer. When coworkers engage in tasks cooperatively, they’re often more productive. In fact, teamwork in the workplace can have advantages that go far beyond mere cooperation in completing a task or project.

When a group of employees works collaboratively in pursuit of an assigned project or goal, the work atmosphere can be altered, sometimes profoundly for the better. Business teamwork can also improve morale and help individuals feel more fulfilled in the workplace.

Benefit From Teamwork in Business
Effective teamwork can create a sense of cohesiveness and unity of purpose. Each member of the team should feel some sense of ownership, not only of their individual tasks, but of the project as a whole. When workers sense the “team” in teamwork, even before their individual positions within it, the team is strengthened.

Strong teams can pull more weight when everyone is pulling in the same direction. Establishing a single primary goal, then making sure every team member understands the goal and how to achieve it, helps the team reach that goal more efficiently.

Open communication and an effective way to resolve conflicts are essential to creating a strong sense of teamwork. Conflicts and problems in the workplace are inevitable, even with cohesive teams, but they should not be feared or stifled. What’s important is to adopt a fair and fast way to resolve such challenges.

Know the Relevance of Teamwork
Teamwork can be invaluable in the workplace. Collaboration, cooperative effort and a sense of ownership among workers can result in greater efficiency, increased productivity and a healthier work environment for all.

A strong sense of teamwork can improve communication and encourage the sharing of information. In turn, this can foster innovation and improve individuals’ skills. Good communications skills can lead to problems and challenges being brought to light sooner so they can be resolved quicker.

Teamwork can benefit the company as a whole by increasing personal responsibility and giving employees a sense of ownership of the assigned work or project. It may also help individuals on the team to grow and develop their skills. By challenging each other to perform consistently at high levels, team members can serve as de facto coaches for each other.

Use Teamwork to Improve Efficiency
When faced with business challenges and looming deadlines, many managers and business owners are tempted to assign more work hours to a project. By requiring existing workers to work longer hours or hiring additional employees, managers often believe challenges can be overcome and deadlines met. But too many additional work hours can cause employee burnout. And simply throwing more workers into the mix can result in communication problems and difficulties coordinating activities.

Working in a team can help increase momentum leading to greater efficiency. Employees working in teams can share ideas, methods and approaches with one another. They usually feel accountable to each other and responsible for the team’s project. This may in part be due to peer-pressure.

Taking the opposite approach of isolating workers or adopting a do-it-yourself approach likewise creates challenges. Working alone eliminates opportunities to learn new skills and improve existing ones through input from co-workers. And an isolated employee may make less progress in a given day, which can hamper progress.”

If you are looking for ways to build teamwork among your staff, here is a link with a few ideas: Teamwork Exercises at Work

As this is my last newsletter as the SME President, I want to take a few moments to thank the Board of Directors, our Executive Director, Kacey McCarthy, and all the members of SME for making this such a great year. I feel confident that our team of sales and marketing executives working together, can negotiate any obstacle we may encounter in the future of SME.

Thank you again for such a memorable 2018-2019 Year!

Roxanna McKenna
SME President 2018-2019

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life forever.”― Amy Poehler