The Importance of Teamwork in an Organization

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Nine Lies About Work" by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How important is a teamwork culture in your organization? Why is a collaborative work environment more important than corporate culture?

Many companies believe that creating an enticing corporate culture is what makes the business thrive. While corporate culture (various perks, free lunches, etc.) can attract people to work for your organization, it’s not what makes them stay. High-value people seek to do meaningful work as part of a supportive, collaborative team.

Keep reading to learn about the importance of teamwork in an organization.

Why Corporate Culture Doesn’t Matter

According to Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, the authors of Nine Lies About Work, the importance of teamwork in an organization is often ignored when the company culture is put first. Organizations emphasize building a strong corporate culture because they believe that it can attract and retain employees. They offer perks and implement policies that reinforce the culture they want to cultivate—for example, they offer free lunches to demonstrate that they’re people-centric or install solar panels to send the message that they’re eco-conscious.

(Shortform note: People are so fascinated by corporate culture and its connection with success that the Netflix Culture Deck, made public in 2009, was a Silicon Valley sensation. It was viewed 15 million times by 2017 and garnered praise from the likes of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. The deck described the company’s culture of “freedom and responsibility,” which Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings would later detail in No Rules Rules.)

However, the authors argue that an overemphasis on culture can be damaging in two ways. First, perks and policies that highlight culture may entice people to join a company, but they’re not enough to make them stay. That’s because these perks only tend to address employees’ surface-level wants and not their deeper needs. Second, companies may force employees to shed their individuality to conform to and preserve the company culture. 

(Shortform note: Jim Collins argues that indoctrinating employees into the company culture isn’t about turning employees into unthinking, compliant robots, as Buckingham and Goodall suggest. Rather, Collins writes that it’s necessary to immerse employees in the company culture so that they can be given greater autonomy. In Built to Last, he asserts that when employees are aligned with the company’s core philosophy, a company can trust them to think for themselves and make decisions that are good for the company.)

Why Teamwork Is More Important

The authors write that—more than having free lunches and other perks—employees seek to do meaningful work as part of a supportive, collaborative team. Teamwork is important because employees are seen as individuals with unique strengths, making them feel like they’re a part of something bigger, and they won’t be treated like just another cog in a well-oiled machine. 

As a leader, you have the power to give your employees the team they’re looking for. Instead of immersing employees in corporate culture, the authors recommend focusing on the importance of building a strong team. To do this, get to know each member, ensure they understand their role, recognize their accomplishments, and foster trust within your team.

(Shortform note: The authors stress that strong teams are the key to employee engagement. As such, watch out for the signs of unhealthy teams, which Patrick Lencioni discusses in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: 1) the absence of trust, 2) the fear of conflict, 3) a lack of commitment, 4) the avoidance of accountability, and 5) inattention to results.)

As a leader, shift your mindset from improving weaknesses to prioritizing strengths by focusing on building a diverse team. To do this, the authors recommend determining what outcomes you want from your team and then figuring out how each member can help your team achieve those outcomes given their individual strengths.

The Importance of Teamwork in an Organization

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall's "Nine Lies About Work" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Nine Lies About Work summary :

  • The nine organizational lies and what leaders can do to address them
  • Why free lunches and breakroom pool tables don't matter
  • Why you should stop seeking a work-life balance

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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