Team spirit

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Noun [ U ]

  • A feeling of belonging together that the members of a group have towards others in the group
  • A way of thinking and acting that shows loyalty to your team and its members

I had to think about ‘team spirit’ and the value of teams after I recently read several interviews with top CEO’s and entrepreneurs. In these interviews the obligate words were spend about “finding yourself a mentor when you are young, attract the best and the brightest staff, treat them like family etc”.

However, looking back at my own experiences about “family at the work place” and talking about this with friends and family on how this is perceived in other companies, I must conclude that in most cases, these beautiful words do not match reality. Most of the time the Dutch/Afrikaans word “Baas” describes the situation pretty good (Baas or boss, master is used in South Africa used for people in persons of authority).

The big boss delegates responsibilities and tasks down the organization and when they are not met; because they are simply unachievable, or because a lack of knowledge, experience, tools or money, it shows in performance reviews and bonusses aren’t awarded. The interesting thing is that in most cases the big boss does receive his bonus.

How is that different in sport? In sport you simply cannot compete without a team. Image that the drivers in the Formule 1 are responsible for their own pit stop…it would take them a while. But with a team of 20 people working on the car during the 2,2(!) seconds the car is at a standstill, the car is lifted, stabilized, 4 wheels are changed, and the angle of the front wing is adjusted. Or imagine multiple-stage bicycle races like the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia; no team members to haul your water or food, to keep you out of the wind or to change your rims and wheels when you’ve got a flat tire. Image that as a professional bicycle racer you must repair a puncture while the peloton is on top speed and not waiting for you…

Now switch to the hospitality industry, one of the few industries where colleagues are often seen as friends and even family. This because of the pressure cooker this industry is. Team work here is, just like in sports, essential. A Front office employee cannot act as a chef, waiter, housekeeper, maintenance worker, front office employee and do sales & marketing at the same time. Simply impossible. How different is this for accountants, insurance brokers and at banks where the motto is: One job, one task.

All in all, team spirit is something that is created automatically on the work floor. It’s about giving up something or helping somebody because you want to, and you feel it in every fibre of your body. It’s not something the boss can force because it’s put in writing or force it top down. It can be stimulated though by the boss’ personality, hiring hospitable staff, by matching personalities and by rewarding and complimenting wanted behaviour. Everybody knows that dogs mirror the owners’ personalities’. The same goes for you, show them the desirable behaviour and the changes are big that they will start to show the same behaviour. So, if you as a business owner, CEO, manager or even colleague want to increase the team spirit, start showing desired behaviour and ask yourself: “what could be done to further improve team spirit?”. Find the answer for that question and start acting to it.

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