Organizational productivity is dependent upon teamwork, which I describe as two or more people working together productively for a common goal. Team can be expressed or implied, conscious or unconscious but irrespective, organizational productivity depends upon the effectiveness of interdependent, collaborative effort. Teamwork can be fair, good or great, but teamwork cannot be bad because the contingency of teamwork is enhanced productivity. The English language does not give us a word that that describes the negative side of group collaboration which we generally associate with uncooperativeness, inter-organizational competition, backbiting and under productivity.

A family in business has an inherent advantage because the family provides a natural team infrastructure from the presumption that a family naturally portrays productive group characteristics such as pride, purpose, mutual respect, harmony, governance and communication. Unfortunately, these presumed family characteristics are not entitlements of having children or hanging out in the same house. As the world turns, each family has a unique suite of bonding infrastructure assets that come into play if, and when, they pursue a business activity. Predictably, the quality of the family is magnified as an advantage or disadvantage as it endeavors to call upon its unique culture to pursue a business purpose.  As I go about my profession as a Certified Succession Planner®, it is apparent that most families endeavoring to develop, manage or grow a business are unable to deploy one or more of the inherent advantages and some cases are dealing with screaming relationship liabilities that can make survival, not just succession, a formidable challenge. 

With synergy (doing more with less) so important to success and succession, I am often asked what I think is the single most critical component of teamwork. My answer is always the same, trust.  The strength of teamwork comes from interdependency. The difference between “dreamwork” and teamwork is that teamwork has trust among team members that reasonable expectations are being fulfilled. Trust is the bonding agent that provides the foundation upon which harmony, productivity and success are built.

As I interact with Rawls Group clients, a common observation I make regarding manager and employee interaction is a lack of trust and consequently, impaired teamwork and productivity.  Everyone is promoting unity and harmony, but it is not happening because there is a lack of trust, vertically and laterally. Members of the “dream” (versus team) are unable or unwilling to focus on the tasks at hand. They lack trust that the other team members have their backs regarding the litany of issues that support peace of mind in the work place.  No doubt, in the absence of peace of mind, we have “dreamwork” wherein the employees continue to look over their shoulders and be distracted from what they are being paid to do. 

So recognizing that the family infrastructure may not always be the ideal team role model, how do we build the organizational trust that will stop the “dream” and build a real team to support business succession?  There are four answers that we will examine in my coming posts,4 Steps for Building Family Business Synergy – Changing “Dreawork” into Teamwork, Part 1 and “4 Steps for Building Family Business Synergy – Changing “Dreawork” into Teamwork, Part 2.”

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