The idea of team work is at least as old as 200,000 years, a time when we first stood upright and roamed the continent of Africa. We lived in large family groups of up to 150 individuals which was almost unheard of in other animal kingdoms. We stayed together, hunted in groups, divided our tasks and cared for each other. This ensured a high success rate during hunts; it helped us to defend ourselves against attacks and helped us to care for our young ones. More importantly, delegation of work helped us to enjoy additional free time, which marked the beginning of development of super animal behaviors.

We evolved larger brains to cope with demanding group life style. Which led to the development of complex communication channels like thought interpretation, sign language, emotion recognition etc. We developed remarkable ability to communicate using language, which ensured that all the skills learnt were passed on from one generation to another. In fact, it is believed that intelligence did not evolve just to solve ecological problems but it evolved as a means of surviving in large and complex social groups.

Working in large structured teams comes naturally to human beings; in fact it is the single most important factor that differentiates us from all other animals. Yet, it is absolutely critical to understand that team culture flourishes only under certain conditions.

Below are the conditions that contributed to the effective functioning of human groups:

1) Firstly, there was a very strong need to co-ordinate. Our survival depended on the ability to work well in groups.

2) Precise communication channels helped us to know the exact purpose of co-operation; it could be to hunt, to plan, to defend, or to share.

3) Individual differences helped us to assign tasks based on specific skills and capabilities.

4) Emotion recognition helped us to understand individual likes and dislikes which was critical for a balanced team.

The 21st century organizational evolution is not very different from the human evolution. Although the playing arena has changed, the rules of the game remain the same. For an organization to survive, grow and dominate, it needs, well knit teams that can co-ordinate and co-operate, individuals who can share and pass on their knowledge, excellent communication skills, a clear common purpose, and the ability to understand complex human emotions.

Under the right conditions, humans have a natural ability to rely on each other to achieve great results. The most important thing an organization can do is provide a platform where individuals are forced to depend on each other for their growth and development.

Below are the top 5 reasons for individuals unable to work well in teams:

1) Low self esteem – Individuals who are not sure about themselves and their capabilities will never be able to appreciate the efforts of others to be good team players.

2) Unable to understand behavioral patterns – To be able to appreciate individuals for their differences and to accept their opinions, it is absolutely imperative to have a complete understanding of human behavior.

3) Negative competition – In a highly competitive team environment, individuals tend to resort to negative tactics that can undermine the team’s performance.

4) Differences in communication patterns – When two people argue, in almost 70% of the cases, both the parties are on the same side of the argument! Lack of clear understanding of communication patterns can breakdown team relationships.

5) Unclear common purpose – The fuel that drives a team forward is a clear, compelling view of the common purpose. If the purpose or the goal is not clear, then it is impossible to drive individuals to be good team players.

Below are the top 4 methods of building strong, super achieving teams.

1) Drive down the common purpose - Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Define the common purpose of the team so clearly that each and every individual of the team identifies with it and longs to achieve it.

2) Provide the right platform - The policies, procedures and systems established should be such that they not only encourage individual performance but also sufficiently reward the overall team performance. The system should be carefully designed to eliminate negative competition.

3) Enhance the communication capabilities - Provide a combination of best possible tools and resources that enhances the communication skills of the team and resolves inner conflicts. Conduct regular training programs to help individuals understand different behavioral patterns.

4) Leverage the skills – Each individual is unique, possessing specific interests and capabilities. Optimize the team’s performance by using the best of what each individual has to offer. Set up mechanisms that facilitate effective delegation.

Author's Bio: 

Avinash Naidu is the founder of Maarga Life Foundation, a training & coaching firm specialized in creating programs for corporations, individuals and educational institutions. He is a sought after Speaker, Trainer & Performance Coach

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