Teamwork involves working together to achieve shared goals. Teamwork involves striking a balance between effective communication, coordination and contributions from each member while acknowledging that each team member brings something different to the team. Teamwork has been in vogue since the 1980s but was not a new concept even then. Prior to the popularisation of teamwork in the 1980s, examples of project-based, self-managed teamwork were found within the mining industry, farming and factory settings.
One of the major effects of teamwork on the workplace is increased communication. Communication refers to each team member's ability to understand and the capacity to use decentralised networks. Encouraging a team approach ensures that team members have to speak to one another and coordinate their efforts toward a shared goal, as the division of labour and diversification of skills creates interdependence among team members. Teamwork is not effective if mechanisms to facilitate and ensure communication are not in place. There are many points where communication can break down within a team. Strategies such as regular team meetings or e-newsletters can ensure your team is in the loop and working toward the same goal.
The saying "the more the merrier" often applies to the positive impact of teamwork on problem solving. Teams can bounce ideas off one another, challenge each other to think outside of the box and promote creative and innovative thinking. Teams can also support one another when dealing with challenging problems, by providing moral support and encouragement. Not all teams excel at problem solving, however, as strong personalities or several similar personalities can inhibit this process. This may lead to "groupthink" or frustration amongst a team. It is important that you take a leadership role in the development of problem solving as a skill.
A positive teamwork environment can have many positive effects on feelings of commitment to the organisation, job satisfaction and morale. A team approach may promote unity amongst co-workers who previously worked in isolation from one another and may even approve attendance of employees. Teamwork may also adversely affect job satisfaction if there are freeloaders within the team who do not carry their weight, or if there is a workplace bully within your team.
According to a study completed by Cornell University in 2005, a teamwork skills and task training had a positive impact on the effectiveness of the team. Encouraging teamwork can have a positive impact, particularly if protocols and training are put into place to ensure that the team operates well with one another. For freeloaders, however the team model can provide a safe haven where they might coast undetected as others pick up their slack.