No Time for Teamwork? Think Again.

June 1st, 2015 by Jean Caragher

A client recently organized a networking mixer with a law firm. I sent an email to the firm’s management group to gauge attendance and received this reply from one of the partners:

“Hi Jean, I’m not going to attend this, this event has no impact on me and [my niche].”

What a selfish response.

In business, and in life, we will accomplish more working together as a team. Our SevenKeys CPA research shows that leaders are four times as likely to work as a team, not as individuals.

Teamwork is important for many reasons, including:

  • Working as a team fosters friendships and collaboration. This results in a commitment to accomplish the project or goal.
  • Teamwork can enhance employee retention, a top concern for CPA firms. Team members can learn from the skills of the others, which can result in improved performance, motivation and job performance.
  • Teams that include people with different experiences and backgrounds encourage creativity that may produce interesting solutions for client situations.
  • Working as a team can make your people more productive.
  • Team members serve as educational resources to each other. Questions can be answered quickly and concepts more rapidly understood.
  • Teamwork enhances communication, not only with each other but with clients.
  • Working on a team increases accountability.
  • Celebrating an achievement with teammates is a great way to boost morale.

The fundamental features of successful teams, according to Robert Heller, are:

  • Strong and effective leadership
  • Precise objectives
  • The ability to make informed decisions
  • The ability to act quickly on these decisions
  • Free communication
  • The requisite skills and techniques to fulfill the project at hand
  • Clear targets for the team to work toward

Successful teams, according to Heller, require finding the right balance of people prepared to work together for the common good of the team. This point resonates with me. There are times we are called upon to do something that doesn’t impact us directly but does impact the overall effort. We need to count on each other in order to enhance our skills and achieve our goals.

How can you form a strong, cohesive team? In Strengths Based Leadership, Tom Rath and Barry Conchie identified four distinct domains of leadership strength: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking. Instead of one dominant leader who tries to do everything or individuals who all have similar strengths, contributions from all four domains lead to a strong and cohesive team. Although individuals need not be well-rounded, teams should be. This impacts how you build teams, how you can contribute to a team, and who you need to surround yourself with.

Now, my response to the partner?

“Everyone needs to start thinking about the entire firm as opposed to their specific niches. I hope that you reconsider and support [person’s name] in his efforts to arrange this networking opportunity.”

I would also add: Don’t be the partner who only thinks only of himself. Be the partner who can see the big picture. Be known as the partner who will support the efforts of others – and show up. Give your people the opportunity to shine – and fail. Encourage teamwork and see how it impacts client satisfaction, business development, and employee retention.

 

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