‘Team Working’: What Does That Actually Mean?


Team WorkingWhat exactly do we mean by ‘Team Working?’

When I ask managers what they want more of from their employees they often say ‘Team Working’. When I ask those managers what ‘Team Working’ looks like in practice they’re often – frankly- stuck! As with any ‘attribute’ we want our employees to demonstrate it’s really important that we, as managers, can describe that attribute in behavioural terms. Why? Because what you mean by ‘Team Working’ and what your employees mean can be entirely different.

Half the battle in bringing about behavioural change (for example encouraging your employees to work better as a team) is in describing specifically what you want your employees to do differently. So…

How can we describe ‘Team Working’?

In my blogs ‘How to write performance objectives – using a model’ and ‘Writing performance objectives – using reverse thinking’ I describe two methods for describing – as performance objectives – precisely what you want from your employees. So, when you are looking to describe exactly what you mean by ‘Team Working’ you could try:

• Thinking of someone you consider to be effective at ‘Team Working’ and then simply describe what they do that makes you think of them as effective

• Asking someone who you (or other people) consider to be great at ‘Team Working’ what they do

• Describing what the opposite of effective ‘Team Working’ is and then reverse your description

• Simply asking yourself the question ‘What would I have to see for me to consider an employee to be great at ‘Team Working?’

Example ‘Team Working’ Objectives

Here are some examples of Team Working objectives I’ve written based upon best practice research on effective Team Working and with working on defining these objectives with hundreds of managers:


You will be considered effective at Team Working when you consistently demonstrate:

1. You can explain the team objectives and your role in meeting those objectives

2. You meet your own objectives

3. Identifying when other team members need help or assistance and offering that help and assistance

4. Full participation in team meetings and events by:

• Preparing for team meetings and events – reading the agenda, looking for areas where you can contribute to the discussion, researching (if appropriate) e.g. looking for data the team would find useful

• Contributing to team meetings and events – talking through ideas at the appropriate time (when the agenda item is reached or when asked), making points clearly, checking that other team members have understood what has been said

• Demonstrating listening – not interrupting, building on others ideas, asking questions

What is Team Working? – A Summary

The simple principle here is that your employees cannot give you what they don’t know you want! If you want your employees to be more effective at ‘Team Working’ why not try describing what you want, using the techniques above and / or my sample objectives, and then communicating what you want to your employees?



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