Working Well with
By Brian Tracy
A 20-year study at Stanford
examined the career paths of thousands of executives to determine what
qualities they either had or developed that enabled them to move ahead
the most rapidly. Researchers concluded that there were two primary
qualities that, more than any others, were indispensable for men and
women who were promoted to positions of great responsibility.
quality was the ability to function well in a crisis. It was the
ability of the executive to keep his or her cool when the company or
the department faced serious challenges or setbacks. It was the
ability to calmly analyze the facts, gather information, reach
conclusions, make decisions, and then mobilize the other people to
respond effectively and solve the problem.
quality that was identified among the fast-trackers was the ability to
function well as a member of a team. This tendency toward cooperation
rather than confrontation was evident early in a person’s career. It
was the primary quality that senior executives looked for and rewarded
the most. The ability to be a good team player inevitably led to
greater and greater opportunities to function as a member of more and
more important teams. In fact, teamwork is so important that it is
virtually impossible for you to reach the height of your capabilities,
or make the money that you want, without becoming very good at it.
You can make
the decision to be an excellent team player in everything you do at
work and at home. Your aim should be to seek out every opportunity to
demonstrate your ability to contribute to the success of a group of
people in accomplishing large objectives.
And you can
start right where you are.
off with the definition of team. A team is two or more people who
combine their talents and abilities to accomplish a specific goal or
series of goals. A team, by definition, is made up largely of equals,
men and women who are different only in their areas of skill and who
are peers when they sit down together as a work group.
A team is
formed to take advantage of the power of synergy. Synergy means that
the total is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, let’s
say that four individuals working alone will produce four units of
work; when they are combined as a team, the four individuals may
produce five or six or eight or even 10 units of work. Many jobs
simply cannot be done by one person working alone, whether it’s
carrying a heavy box or carrying out a major corporate project. A team
needs to be formed whenever the task at hand is greater than the
capacity of any individual working alone.
Over the last
few decades, the concept of teamwork has evolved rapidly. We came out
of World War II with a “command and control” mentality. Most of
the heads of American corporations, large and small, had been military
officers, of various ranks, during the war. They brought their
training into the workplace. Their approach to management was the
hierarchy or pyramid style, with the president at the top, the senior
executives below him, the junior executives below them, and so on, all
the way down to the workers and support staff who made up the base of
the pyramid. The orders traveled in one direction: downward.
Information filtered up slowly. People were expected to do their job,
collect their paycheck and be satisfied.
forces have converged to transform this approach to management
dramatically. First is the rapid rate of change and the increasing
complexity of even the smallest business operation due to the advent
of the computer age. Everyone has critical skills and knowledge that
are necessary to many other people if the job is to get done on time
and to an acceptable standard of quality.
Your job in
your company requires that you know a lot about what is going on
everywhere else, as well as be thoroughly conversant with what you do.
And the fastest and most accurate way of keeping current with what is
going on is to develop and maintain a network of contacts, an informal
team of people within your workplace who keep you informed and who you
keep informed in turn.
methods of command and control now exist only at the old-line
companies, many of which are fighting for their very survival. Today,
men and women want a high degree of participation and involvement in
their work. They want an opportunity to discuss and thoroughly
understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. People are
no longer satisfied to be cogs in a big machine. They want to have an
integral role in achieving goals that they participated in setting in
the first place.
Being a team
player is no longer something that is optional. Today, it is
mandatory. If you want to achieve anything of consequence, you will
need the help and cooperation of lots of people. Your main objective
is to structure everything you do in such a way that, because you are
constantly cooperating and working well with others, they are
continually open to helping you achieve your goals as well.
major reason why teams do not function well, and why people end up not
making their full contribution to the success of the teams, is lack of
clarity. All the studies of team building and team development focus
in on the importance of everyone’s being absolutely clear about what
the team is trying to accomplish. This can be in the form of a goal or
objective handed down by senior management, or it can be the result of
discussion and participation by the various team members. In any case,
everyone must know what is to be done, to what standard, by what
deadline, and what the roles and responsibilities of each team member
will be in the achievement of that goal.
One of your
key concerns is to be absolutely clear about exactly what is expected
of you. If for any reason you are not sure, bring it up and ask about
it until you have no doubt whatsoever. Then get busy, do exactly what
is expected of you, and do it well.
all your interactions with your team, your role is to be supportive
and helpful. Your role is not to challenge, criticize or argue, but to
look for solutions and for opportunities to help other people make
their maximum contribution as well. When you sit in on a team meeting,
you are “onstage.” Everyone is watching you. The best team players
I have ever seen are those whose comments to the other members of the
team are in the form of suggestions on how things can be done better.
The best team members are always offering to help other people after
the meetings to get on top of some aspect of their work. This focus on
collaboration and cooperation is seen by everybody and marks you as a
person to be both liked and respected.
men and women have kicked their careers into the stratosphere by
taking on a small responsibility and doing such a good job with it
that they came to the attention of important people both inside and
outside their organizations.
look for opportunities to get onto teams and to make valuable
contributions. Volunteer for additional assignments. Focus on
high-priority tasks, and finish what you start on time. Do excellent
work. And remember that, as Confucius said, “He who would be master
must be servant of all.”
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