Making teamwork work


Team days often have a poor reputation and, because it is so hard to get it right, allocating time and effort to team effectiveness is often avoided or simply cut from the budget. So how do we make teamwork, work?

According to the 2019 Human Synergistics International Research report, teams that work in a constructive way get significantly better results. They are 96% more effective; 60% less likely to waste time and the quality of their work improves by 69%. Clearly the evidence is that the quest for team work is a worthwhile one.

If it is so critical to success in business and life, what are the ways we can maximise this potential? How do you take a group of people who have been placed together by an organisation, have different working styles, diverse personal values and ways of achieving results and turn them into a high performing team?

I believe to really excel in a complex and often uncertain business environment people need to achieve and learn together. For the team to be effective they need to work on two important components; clarity and connection.

Team clarity

Teams must have clarity on their purpose, ambition, goals and priorities. They need to know why they have come together, what they are there to do and how they do it together.

Great teams consistently strive for clarity about these things. As Google discovered in their five year quest for the perfect team with ‘Project Aristotle’ the most important clarity is how we work and behave together. Think of it as the fundamental heartbeat of the team. These are often called ‘Norms’ and they can’t be constructed by email or over the phone and they have to be constantly revisited with discipline and attention. Developing the heartbeat of the team takes time and effort. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen.

Team connection

I often start my keynote talks with the statement “we are more connected yet disconnected than ever before”. With advanced technology, flexible working arrangements and geographically dispersed teams disconnection can happen very quickly.

When teams don’t connect they often start to look like federated silos of individuals who come together under the banner of a meeting. Connecting is more than coming together in a meeting environment. It is clear and consistent communication, knowledge sharing, collaboration and genuine care. I teach and facilitate teams as well as a program called Leader as Coach. Coaching skills are essential for teams to thrive through peer to peer coaching. It is the sustainable skill for long term success.

For me, connection is about having quality conversations that promote the high performance and wellbeing of the team.

Clarity and connection are two simple to remember, yet very powerful elements to achieving a high performance team and making the teamwork, work.


Margie is one of Australia’s leading executive coaches and founder of Gram Consulting Group, an independent coaching and facilitation community. Having worked with 11 of the top 20 ASX listed companies, Margie’s strong track record with enabling results has seen her and her team transform individuals through facilitation and executive coaching. Her podcast Fast Track: Career Conversations with Margie Hartley features weekly career insights from some of Australia’s top CEOs and business leaders on how to, literally, fast track your career.