What is teamwork and how does it really work? This may sound like a very obvious question, but I have found many that do not really know how to work in teams and what teamwork really means. So let me throw my thoughts into the air and see where they land.
Good teams work toward a common goal. This may seem like a commonly understood perspective, but I have seen teams drift off track and loose sight of the goal and some that do not agree on the goal at all. So I suggest that everyone first discuss the goal and output of the team. What questions are we going to answer? What output are we creating? These should be the first questions asked and the ones that are reviewed from time to time to see if you are still heading in the right direction.
Good teams share common methods. They are not little robots,programmed to do just one thing, but they do share a common approach to getting things done. Teams may not start this way, but they need to agree on how the goal will be reached. Some teams have subcommittees. Some do everything together. Some teams do everything in the meetings and nothing outside and some task groups or individuals to work between meetings. But the teams that operate the best are those that first agree on how they will tackle the process of reaching the goal. Sometimes the process is defined up front and other times it is defined as you move forward. Either way works as long as the team understands who is doing what.
Good teams document the process and the results. The goal is not the only milestone that is achieved as teams progress along. Many landmarks are passed as teams move toward the goal. Many processes are defined as you move along. You need to write these down in some form of minutes. It may be formal or informal, but you need to document what is a greed to so that everyone stays on the same page. Writing it down and distributing it causes you to clarify and review as you go. Everyone contributes and reads the minutes or notes from a meeting and they are verified so that all agree to the decisions that are written and not just what they think was said.
Good teams work as a team. Another obvious statement, but so often not applied. Every member of the team stands or falls on the collective outcome of the team. But many bring personal agendas and goals that counteract that effort. Those team members can work contrary to the overall goal and seek individual goal, departmental goals or even seek to avoid the main goal. It all happens as others are working in one direction, others are moving in the opposite direction. Ferreting out these silent agendas may be tough, but they need to be uncovered and addressed or corrected.