As I wrote this, I was watching the rugby game Australia – Wales. Rugby is not that popular in the Netherlands, but I love watching it. Basically, any sport with teams. I played volleyball for many years. One of the things I really liked about it, you need every player to win the game in the end. As with many team sports.
But what defines a team? Is speed cycling a team sport or not? Is a team of marathon runners, a real team, or maybe just a group of athletics? What defines a team?
First of all, they are together responsible for the results. You can’t be on a team and not being responsible for the results. A team wins or loses together. They will succeed or fail together. If you are just doing your task, and when something unexpected happens, and you point to the person responsible, you are not working in a team.
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Secondly, the team has a common goal. Maybe sometimes more than one, but at least one common goal. Teams like Ireland, New Zealand, South-Africa have a clear goal during the World Championship Rugby: Take the Webb Ellis trophy home with them! If a team has not a common goal, but everyone has her or his own goal, it is not a team. If you work in a Scrum team, you should identify a Sprint goal according to the Scrum Guide.
Thirdly, you need everyone to accomplish the goal. You could have the best rugby player in the world in your team, you still will need every player on the field to win the game! In a team, all players are necessary to win. You will need, for example, props, a hooker, locks, etc. All your team members should be required to accomplish the goal.
Finally, everyone considers themselves part of the team. All players of the national team of New Zealand consider themselves part of the team, no doubts about that! If one of them believes he is not part of the team, it won’t work, and the All Black will not be able to operate as a team. Are all your team members seeing themselves as part of your team, or are there team members who just see themselves as colleagues located in the same room?
To sum it up: What makes a team a team?
- When team members consider themselves part of the team
- They need each other to accomplish their goal(s)
- The team has one or more common goals
- All team members are together responsible for the results
Do you work in a team, or in a group?