Thursday, March 15, 2007

Team-work OR Team-play?

Which buzz words are the most over-hyped in business?

Is it leadership? Empowerment? Synergy? Strategic? How about teamwork?

Today I'm going to pick on teamwork. When I looked up the word "team" in the dictionary, here is some of what I found...

  1. A group on the same side, as in a game.
  2. A group organized to work together: a team of engineers.
  3. A brood or flock.
  4. Two or more draft animals used to pull a vehicle or farm implement. - A vehicle along with the animal or animals harnessed to it. - A group of animals exhibited or performing together, as horses at an equestrian show.
  5. Synonyms: combine, unite, ally, merge.

The word team traces back to thousands of years and literally means "that which draws or pulls".

So, then I looked up "work" and here's what I found...

  1. exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.
  2. to act or operate effectively: The pump will not work. The plan works.
  3. Synonyms: drudgery, labor, toil

It appears to me as if the word "work" isn't needed after "team". A "team" by definition is a group of individuals working together to achieve something.

Mayabe that's why people don't say "It's the power of the teamwork", right? They simply say it's about "the power of the team".

So, who added the "work" onto the end of the word? I think it was someone trying to make up their own buzzword so that they could make money. ;)

When I think of the successful teams that I've been on, it never really seemed like work to me. I was just playing my part. Even when there was a lot of pressure, if I was a) playing on the right team and b) playing the right part, the stress wasn't as great as just one of those things being out of whack.

Work has a negative connotation in our society these days. You've probably heard the saying "If it was supposed to be fun, they wouldn't call it work." So why has someone added the word "work" onto the word "team".

I propose that starting today, you delete the buzzword "teamwork" from your vocabulary. Whether you are a business owner, executive, project manager, director... regardless of your leadership role, look at yourself as a "coach". It is you privilege to get your team to play together to achieve their goal.

I also propose that you look at these two questions:

As a leader, what kind of players do you have on your team?

  • Are they in the right role?
  • Are they even on the right team?

What kind of environment are you setting for your team?

  • Is it one of "teamwork"?
  • Is it one of "teamplay"?

Play: v act or have an effect in a specified way or with a specific effect or outcome; to perform, participate or act; cause to move or operate freely within a bounded space.

The word "play" comes from plega which means "recreation, exercise, any brisk activity". Doesn't that sound much better than "labor, toil, and drudgery"?

I encourage you to take a look at your roles. Are they more like drudgery and labor? Or, are they more like recreation and exercise?

Focus on TEAM PLAY, instead of teamwork. It's easy to do and you are in complete control of doing it - you don't even need your team to accomplish this. Focusing is about YOU and your thoughts. Choose your thoughts and practice replacing teamwork with team play.

You should notice that your stress is eased a bit just by the thought of team play. When you truly believe that your success is dependent more on team play than team work, you will start to create a less stressful environment for your team. When your team feels less stress, they will play better.

"Work" can be fun if you take time to focus on the "play" aspect of performing your tasks. As a leader, you "set the stage" for your team play.

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