The Recipe for a Perfect Team

Trisha Rathod
4 min readApr 21, 2021

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“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” ( Burden, 1975, p. 82)

Every organization or institution that I have ever been a part of, has always focused greatly on nurturing individuals to become excellent team players. Arguably, the essence of a team is often romanticized. In my opinion, teamwork should not be synonymous with achieving great heights and breaking boundaries, it should be about channeling effective coordination. Coordination ensures that a team functions as a unit, and is identified as a key process to understanding teamwork effectiveness. (Rico, et al, 2011, pp. 59–68).

Most of us are fortunate enough to be born and raised in a team, we refer to it as family. As we grow, we build other teams such as friends in school, in our communities, and peers at work. We study, play, and work within these teams, supporting them and expressing our true selves with our teammates. A question that arises is, why do we feel more comfortable being in our personal teams as compared to the professional ones?

The answer I relate to the most is that we don’t set expectations with our personal teams. We don’t intend to fulfill a goal whilst being around them.

What is so good about working in teams?

Teamwork is a “cooperative process that allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results” ( Scarnati, 2001, p.5). It harnesses the power of individuals in order to create something worthwhile and achieving success.

J. Richard Hackman in his research on teams stated that the most important element in a team’s success is not the behavior of the team members but the compelling direction they are expected to follow ( Hass & Mortensen, 2016). However, I do not fully agree with his point of view. I believe that a direction or rather a purpose is critical but not the only factor to enable the success of a team.

Some of the benefits while working in a team are,

Cultural Learnings: A team with a diverse background possess a superlative set of skills and their respective cultures help them interpret the purpose with more character. ( Hass & Mortensen, 2016)

Diversity in Discipline: As a team, we rely on each other in order to combine our resources in talent, experience, and finances to increase our reach and cultivate the act of sharing. ( Nixon, 2014)

Self-awareness: Lastly, Teamwork helps us reflect upon our own strengths and weaknesses, while also providing us enough room to improve, and gives us an opportunity to support one another. ( Nixon, 2014)

What is the recipe indeed?

Contrary to the title, I don’t think that there is one perfect solution to this dilemma. After all, “Perfection is subjective to one’s own perception” (Mathews, 2017). With careful consideration of my learnings and the research that I conducted, I hereby present to you a recipe for a healthy team.

A gallon of I trust you

In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around each other. They feel confident that no one will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea. (Bariso, 2018) During the first year of my undergraduate studies, my tutor recommended that we perform trust exercises in order to bond with our classmates. Throughout the week we attempted different renditions of the trust fall which resulted in us trusting one another better as we progressed with the course.

A dash of Pre-project Friendship

The teams I worked across have always been a blend of people with different needs, ambitions and personalities. Getting to know teammates before starting the project can be a great and effective way to bond with them. ( Mind Tools Content team, 2018)

People are more likely to open up and reveal more of their personalities in a relaxed setting. Self-disclosure plays a central role in the development and maintenance of relationships. ( Collins & Miller, 1994)

Stir in The common language

One of my favorite TED talks, The language of being human by Poet Ali highlights a key insight to deal with language barriers. He talks about language as a system of communication not pertaining to the ones that are adopted by countries or cultures but rather adopted by human behavior. The teams I worked with often bonded over the language of food and pets. We also shared the same dialect of working late at night. ( TED, 2014)

Instead of looking at the languages that divide us, we should nurture our common languages and emerge into a healthy team!

A sprinkle of Positive attitude

“Misery may love company, but negativity has never lifted anyone up.” (Post, 2019)

Maintaining a positive attitude, boosting morale, and applauded everyone’s efforts on a dark and gloomy day, takes tremendous effort but it can create all the difference.

Lastly, the most important ingredient that brings the whole recipe together is maintaining the consistency of team reflections. The more we express our vulnerability to one another, the more receptible we are to embracing challenges. And if we fail again, we stand up, shake it off and try again tomorrow but we do it together!

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