Are You Really A Team…Or Just A Workgroup

competing employees racingMost people speak of those they work with as a team. But, in my experience, people rarely understand what a team really is.

In funeral service what typically represents a team is really a group of people who are very nice but work towards their own ends independently. If the firm has clear standards and systems then things tend to work smoothly. If not, then hidden beneath the surface is a collection of resentments, hurts and misunderstandings that simply fester. This is called “Artificial Harmony.”

Artificial Harmony is evident in most of the firms I have worked with over my career. In fact, the louder the claims of “we’re like family” and “we function as a team” the more confident I become that I will find that Artificial Harmony is really what is going on.

In reality most business teams, whether in funeral service or some other career area, are really work groups. Few function as true teams. Study after study reveals that true team work environments are more productive, create higher customer satisfaction and generate greater profits.

The difference between a team and a workgroup is simple. A golf team is a workgroup. A group of individuals working independently whose scores are toted up to determine where they stand. The metaphor for a team is a basketball team. Each member is INTERDEPENDENT on the others. No single person can win games as effectively or consistently. It’s not about whether or not they like each other (although I am sure many of them do). It is about a shared vision of reality, common goals and leveraging each others strengths and (most of all) have trust and confidence in your teammates.

Members of teams hold each other accountable to the team for their performance. It does no good to “bear” the underperformance of another with a smile because you “hate confrontation.” To do so means the team loses. No, instead, true team members recognize their responsibility to carry their respective weight and fulfill their responsibility to the whole.

Years ago I saw a needlepoint in a client’s office. I went home and printed it on a regular size piece of paper, framed it and now it hangs on my wall:

“A man (or woman) can do anything in a business, 

as long as the holy spirit is in control,

and no one cares who gets the credit”

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