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The Sociology of Teamwork

By Disha Sharma
5 min read

In the modern workplace, the team has become the โ€œhero.โ€ The focus that was once on developing leaders and rewarding high-performers is shifting to team-based working and nurturing collaboration.

And rightly soโ€”companies that excel at teamwork or collaborative working are more likely to be high-performing than those that donโ€™t. The reason is simple: people work better in teams because theyโ€™re social animals and are engineered for team-based working. They already possess collaborative instincts.

Teams arenโ€™t just a better way to work in the modern work environment, theyโ€™re also tools for better organizational structures.

Moving away from hierarchy toward a team-based organization

Traditional organizational structures like the functional or divisional structure or the matrix structure donโ€™t work anymore in fast-paced industries. This somewhat explains why reorganizing company structure is one of the key priorities of so many companies today.

A modern workplace trend resulting from the limitations of traditional organizational structures is building an organizational structure that isnโ€™t a hierarchy (or a flatarchy) but instead is a โ€œnetwork of teams.โ€ Companies preparing for the future of work are moving to become โ€œteam-based organizationsโ€ where the different teams innovate and build winning customer experiences together.

Such an approach eliminates all silos and the common โ€œus vs. themโ€ workplace practice.

In a team-based organization, teams arenโ€™t usually built according to the functions they ought to deliver. Instead, theyโ€™re built around the project at hand or around delivering integrated customer experiences. This โ€œnetwork of teamsโ€ structure is a natural step toward reengineering a company for higher adaptabilityโ€”a must for thriving in the face of rising customer expectations.

How teams accelerate innovation, growth, and workplace happiness

When companies dissolve most of the hierarchy and move toward team-based working models, they instantly unlock all the data to everyone in the team. They also make everyone of every rank and discipline accessible to everyone else. Which means more brainstorming and better ideas, leading to innovation.

Moreover, when a company reinforces team-based work they also build a sense of empathy in the team members. So, the salespeople know how hard marketing professionals are working to send them leads. And marketing, in turn, knows that sales appreciates their work. By just being nice to each other and working well together, even ordinary teams can outperform a team comprised solely of star performers. Not just that, teamwork also builds a sense of camaraderie, making employees more productive and happier.

Teams also bring out the best in people by enforcing certain behavioral standards, or โ€œgroup norms.โ€ When โ€œgroup normsโ€ take over, all the members of a team exhibit the same proclivity because these norms override how the individuals would otherwise act if they werenโ€™t part of that group/team. This โ€œteam cultureโ€ is what really makes a team shine and realizes โ€œThe whole is greater than the sum of its partsโ€ adage.

Developing a team-centric C-suite

But to fully benefit from a team-centric model, C-suite leadership, too, needs to adopt it. Because teamwork isnโ€™t just important for the general resources of a company, itโ€™s important for the leaders as well. To deliver in the current age of digital disruption, increasing customer expectations, and complex business dynamics, leaders need to work as a team to support their companiesโ€™ efforts to become more agile.

When C-suite executives collaborate, they quickly align to deliver projects at a pace that beats the competitors. This becomes more important because in team-based working, teams are often formed and dissolved quickly (many times on a project-by-project basis), and so decisions need to happen fast. If decision makers donโ€™t work together as a team, this naturally suffers.

But despite studies that show C-suite collaboration results in higher growth for a company, itโ€™s quite uncommon. C-level teamwork, in fact, is one of the key workplace issues for most organizations. A companyโ€™s collaborative effort can be the best only when thereโ€™s a C-level team leading teams because that gets everyone onboard with how the work and progress happens.

When decision makers work as a team, everyone benefits from the resulting cross-team transparency, improved knowledge and resource-sharing, and a clear, unified vision.

Evolving teamwork means an evolving work environment

At the core of teamwork transformation in the modern work environment are the digital experiences that customers demand today. Such a transformation needs more than reorganizing teams or shuffling the team members. It needs a complete overhaul of how organizations plan, form, and lead teams. It needs a deconstruction of the hierarchies at every level.

The Celonis Intelligent Business Cloud breaks through silos and unlocks insights that transform businesses. By enabling companies to collaborate over data and work together to build incredible customer experiences, we empower teamwork as an essential element of the future of work.

While ensuring data accessibility and transparency, investing in the best transformation software, incentivizing teamwork, and promoting a culture that puts teamwork first are good starting points at the granular level, the real work lies in the willingness of companies focusing on digital transformation initiatives to take the time to recognize the value-add of embracing the new style of teamwork.

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