AskDefine | Define teamwork

Dictionary Definition

teamwork n : cooperative work done by a team

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the cooperative effort of a team of people for a common end

Extensive Definition

Teamwork is the concept of people working together cooperatively, such as a football team.
Projects often require that people work together to accomplish a common goal; therefore, teamwork is an important factor in most organizations. Effective collaborative skills are necessary to work well in a team environment. Many businesses attempt to enhance their employees' collaborative efforts through workshops and cross-training to help people effectively work together and accomplish shared goals.
“The old structures are being reformed. As organizations seek to become more flexible in the face of rapid environmental change and more responsive to the needs of customers, they are experimenting with new, team-based structures” (Jackson & Ruderman, 1996).
A 2003 national representative survey, HOW-FAIR , revealed that Americans think that 'being a team player' was the most important factor in getting ahead in the workplace. This was ranked higher than several factors, including 'merit and performance', 'leadership skills', 'intelligence', 'making money for the organization' and 'long hours'.

Teamwork skills

Aside from any required technical proficiency, a wide variety of social skills are desirable for successful teamwork, including:
  • Listening - it is important to listen to other people's ideas. When people are allowed to freely express their ideas, these initial ideas will produce other ideas.
  • Discussing It is important to discuss your ideas with your teammates until you agree.
  • Questioning - it is important to ask questions, interact, and discuss the objectives of the team.
  • Persuading - individuals are encouraged to exchange, defend, and then to ultimately rethink their ideas.
  • Respecting - it is important to treat others with respect and to support their ideas.
  • Helping - it is crucial to help one's coworkers, which is the general theme of teamwork.
  • Sharing - it is important to share with the team to create an environment of teamwork.
  • Participating - all members of the team are encouraged to participate in the team.
  • Communication - For a team to work effectively it is essential team members acquire communication skills and use effective communication channels between one another e.g. using email, viral communication, group meetings and so on. This will enable team members of the group to work together and achieve the team's purpose and goals.
The forming-storming-norming-performing model takes the team through four stages of team development and maps quite well on to many project management life cycle models, such as initiation - definition - planning - realisation.
As teams grow larger, the skills and methods that people require grow as more ideas are expressed freely. Managers must use these to create or maintain a spirit of teamwork change. The intimacy of a small group is lost, and the opportunity for misinformation and disruptive rumors grows. Managers find that communication methods that once worked well are impractical with so many people to lead. Specifically, leaders might encounter difficulties based on Daglow's Law of Team Dynamics: "Small teams are informed. Big teams infer."

Team roles

Meredith Belbin (1993) basing on his research proposed ten roles that successful teams should have:
contribution of team members in achieving these, rather than just pushing his or her own view. The coordinator (or chairperson) is self disciplined and applies this discipline to the team. They are confident and mature, and will summarize the view of the group and will be prepared to take a decision on the basis of this.

Examples of Great Teamwork

These are just a few examples of how in our society; we tend to value individual accomplishments. Fortunately, we are slowly beginning to recognize the importance of teamwork in sports, business, and school.
Sports offer some of the finest examples of teamwork. Great athletes always acknowledge that great teams win championships, not great individuals. As Babe Ruth said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.”
For example a football running back and quarterback’s ability are totally dependent on the strength of their offensive line. A basketball center’s ability in scoring is mainly dependent on his team’s willingness to pass. Even a NASCAR driver’s finish depends on the speed and skill of his pit crew.
Sports are full of clichés like, “There is no I in team.” While this has often been commonly acknowledged wisdom, only recently has it been scientifically established. In 2006, two statistics professors at Brigham Young University concluded after a long-term study of NBA basketball games that teamwork truly was the most important factor in winning. While many might think that scoring or rebounding statistics are the most informative numbers, these professors mathematically proved that the ratio of assists to turnovers, a great of measure of teamwork, was the best predictor of success over a season. Based on this study, it is easy to understand why the teams with the highest payrolls seldom consistently win championships. While individual skill and effort in sports is important, teamwork is paramount.
Teamwork has also become increasingly acknowledged as an essential skill for employees in companies both small and large. Today’s increasingly global economy places a premium on teamwork in the workplace. For companies that often produce goods on one continent and then over a matter of a few days must transport, store and deliver them to customers on another continent, teamwork is not just important, it is essential. Teamwork has become so valued that many large corporations have developed specific tests to measure potential employees’ teamwork abilities. Many companies are even acknowledging this in their job titles by changing the designation of supervisors or managers to “team leader.” While CEOs make the headlines, modern corporations could not function without teamwork.
Teamwork in school is just as important as teamwork in sports and business. The teachers and administrators at Lake Forest Country Day School (LFCDS) recognize the importance of teamwork. A team of teachers now teaches the fifth grade to help students transition into the Upper School. Students are also encouraged to work collaboratively on academic projects and in competitions such as the Lego League robotics competition. These projects aid students in developing the essential skills they will need when they enter the working world. At LFCDS, teachers emphasize group projects as well individual assignments.
Students that succeed in group efforts understand that they must make them team projects rather than group projects. There are subtle but very important differences between group and team projects. A team project is when members of the teamwork work interdependently towards the same goal. It is also a team project, when every member in the group feels a sense of ownership of their role. In a group project, members work independently and are often not working towards the same goal. The members in the group also focus a lot on themselves because they are not involved in the planning of their goals. It is not hard to explain why team projects always surpass group projects.

Critiques of teamworking

There is a range of debates concerned with the negative features of teamworking. The move to teamwork in industry and services has led to a greater amount of peer pressure, performance management, and stress. Management control is seen by critics to be reinvigorated by transferring the disciplinary dimension of management to employees and team members themselves. There are studies showing how team members pressure each other into working harder. The literature goes into questions of bullying and of surveillance. (See Phil Garrahan and Paul Stewart The Nissan Enigma Chapter 4 published by Mansell in London - 1992). This had led to a debate on the regulation of teamworking and the need to establish rules and procedures regarding its development and boundaries.


teamwork in Arabic: فريق عمل
teamwork in Danish: Teamwork
teamwork in German: Teamwork
teamwork in Italian: Gruppo di lavoro
teamwork in Dutch: Teamwork
teamwork in Norwegian: Lagspill
teamwork in Serbian: Тимски рад
teamwork in Vietnamese: Teamwork

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

bipartisanship, coaction, coadjuvancy, coadministration, coagency, cochairmanship, codirectorship, collaboration, collaborativeness, collectivism, collusion, commensalism, common effort, common enterprise, communalism, communism, communitarianism, community, complicity, concert, concord, concordance, concurrence, cooperation, cooperativeness, duet, duumvirate, ecumenicalism, ecumenicism, ecumenism, esprit, esprit de corps, fellow feeling, fellowship, harmony, joining of forces, joint effort, joint operation, mass action, morale, mutual assistance, mutualism, mutuality, octet, pooling, pooling of resources, pulling together, quartet, quintet, reciprocity, septet, sextet, solidarity, symbiosis, synergism, synergy, team spirit, trio, triumvirate, troika, united action
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