We recently came across an article that said that teamwork is a dying art. And although we agree that recent years have made it more difficult for teams to function efficiently, with fewer people doing more work and wearing more hats, teamwork skills are still important and employees and candidates who can demonstrate those skills bring great value to the roles they fill.

What makes teamwork more difficult?

  • Fear–With the job market so precarious, people are more likely to take sole credit for successes to shore up their own credibility with upper management.
  • Time–Brainstorming takes time: coming up with ideas, analyzing them, and culling them down to the best ones is a process. It’s quicker to just make a decision or solicit one from a manager and get started, especially when each member of a team is in charge of more aspects of a project than they used to be.
  • Distance–Telecommuting saves fuel, time, and overhead costs, but it can make it harder for people to work together.
  • Impermanence–Using freelancers can bring fresh energy and ideas into a company, but contract workers may not invest in developing relationships the way permanent employees will.

How can you make it easier?

  • Support each other–What goes around comes around and the credit you give your co-worker for a job well done will come back to you when it’s your turn.
  • Make time–Maybe the whole team can’t get together at the same time. Have a tag-team email chat brainstorm. Start a chain and have each member add an idea or suggestion.
  • Create Space–Just because you are all working from home doesn’t mean you can’t have a meeting. There is some great technology out there for virtual meetings where you can even share videos, presentations, and other media. Use it!
  • Invest–If you are a freelancer, make a concerted effort to create relationships with the other members of the team, even if you are only there for a short time. Every gig is an opportunity to network as well as a job. If you take the time, you will reap the rewards.

One of my favorite quotes from Napoleon Hill: ‘It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” At its simplest, teamwork is helping each other accomplish a goal so that everyone can be successful. No, there’s no “I” in teamwork, but “U” can be the one who turns a bunch of “I’s” into a “We.”

Wendy Stackhouse for Artisan Creative