Mr. BigTwig talks about teamwork.

I read recently that companies lose $350 billion a year because of employee disengagement.

Wow.  I knew the divorce problem in this country was big, but I’d never thought about the business cost of disengagement.

This is probably all due to a lack of teamwork.

Teamwork is important in companies; although I’ve seen a few of them take it a bit too far.  I’ve attended a few sessions which bordered on outright silly.

You know, the ones where they have you all stand in a circle and randomly throw a ball from one person to the next, trying to remember who passes to you and who you pass to.  I guess the first one to miss is a proven, outlaw non-team player.

Or taking you out in the woods and having you all help each other squeeze through the center of a tire hanging by a rope suspended from a tree about five feet off of the ground.

You think I’m kidding?  Nope.  Not kidding.

Of course, most of these are all “voluntary,” right.  And we all know they are “not.”  So we do them for honest, genuine teamwork reasons — like keeping our jobs.

This particular series of teamwork exercises I mentioned was called “Stream.”  I jokingly commented that next year we were all going to have to jump out of a plane together holding hands and singing Kumbaya.  My working title for that program was “Scream.”

I didn’t say this too loud however, because I was afraid someone might think it was a good idea.

All in all, this is probably a poor use of the concept of teamwork.

Speaking of which, Mr. BigTwig in this week’s cartoon has a long way to go on teamwork, wouldn’t you say.  What a concept.  He thinks teamwork is “a bunch of people doing what I say.”

I worked for a boss in my past that had that attitude.  Hmmm … come to think of it, maybe a couple of them.  But the one I have in mind actually wrote and published a book entitled Do What I Say.  I’m not sure how sales went on this masterpiece – I’m thinking not particularly great.  Sounds a little heavy handed if you ask me.

Interestingly, I liked the guy and we got along well.  He was one of those polarizing figures people loved or hated – there were no in-between opinions about him.

I liked him because he knew what he wanted, knew what he was talking about, was fair, defended his people, never talked behind their back, made sure we had the resources to get his challenging assignments done, was not afraid to make tough decisions, and he communicated well – some thought a little too well, as memory serves.

Those are leadership qualities, aren’t they?

And I think they foster teamwork – far better than squeezing team mates through the center of a tire in the woods.

So if you want to be a good team leader, or team player, maybe foster some of those qualities in yourself.  I think you’ll have a lot more success with that idea.

And by all means don’t write a book entitled Do What I Say.

Have a great day – J. Daniel

P.S.  Have you ever had to do one of those silly teamwork exercises?  Or have you worked for a Mr. BigTwig boss in your past?  Feel free to comment by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

One Response to “Teamwork”

  1. Marty says:

    Your ‘Mr. BigTwig’ character made me instantly flash on my last boss. In fact, other than the fact is would have been ‘Mrs. BigTwig’ I might think you knew her! In reality, every ‘boss’ I’ve ever had bore a striking resemblence to him. Since I managed to escape from corporate prison I have lost my first-hand perspective on corporate training, but back in the day I’d say we spent(wasted?) more money trying to improve individual and team performance than we ever could have saved. And, of course, it didn’t seem to change anything except to make all those teamwork consultants very wealthy!

    Ahh, the good old days.

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