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TEAMWORK AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Objective:

Learn how important it is for all employees to work to their fullest ability and what your responsibility is to management as well as management's responsibility to you.
In the business world, a company that lacks teamwork among all of its employees will have a lesser amount of financial success than the company that has discovered how to maintain an employee relationship of teamwork. In any environment where more than one person is employed each employee is expected to do his or her share of the work. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that, if one person doesn't carry his or her share of the load, the other members must do more that what is expected. When this happens, the duties the other employees are expected to carry out must go uncompleted.
For instance, imagine a department where three people are assigned. All three people have the same kind of work to perform. The company has determined that the goals of the department can be met each day by employing these three people. If a fourth employee should be hired there will not be enough work for everyone. If only two employees are employed, all of the necessary duties cannot be completed by the end of each day and production will fall off, causing profits to diminish.

Now, imagine that one of the three employees in this department doesn't understand the concept of teamwork. He or she looks around and decides that there is no need to work as hard as the other two employees, after all, if the company wants me to work hard they should pay me more money. Have you ever heard that argument? So this employee eases off and doesn't work as hard. At first the other two employees don't notice it much until a supervisor speaks to the group about how production has decreased. The two regular employees don't understand at first because they have been consistently putting out the same amount of work. In fact, when they stop to think about it, they have been putting out more work lately.

Finally, by observing the sluggish employee, they notice that he or she is not working up to capacity. What happens next depends upon the attitude toward teamwork of the two hard-working employees. They can continue to work hard and contact their supervisor in a professional manner, explaining that the lower production is due to one of the employees in the group. Or, they can say amongst themselves, "Well, if he (or she) isn't going to work hard, neither am I!"

There are many people, unfortunately, who will avoid saying anything to a supervisor. They will make the second choice and take on the same attitude as the slacking employee. Many employees believe that speaking to a supervisor about the poor work habits of another employee is the wrong thing to do. It would be the wrong thing to do if it weren't really the truth. But, if the poor work habits of one employee are reducing company profits or costing the company money, that person falls into the same category as a person who is shoplifting, or, pilfering. Allowing such actions to continue when you have knowledge of it makes you an accomplice to the fact.

Not all people are able to work at the same rate. Everyone is different. A person who is not able to work as hard an someone else is not exhibiting poor work-habits. Generally such a person is aware of their condition to some extent and tries harder than many of the other employees. Teamwork is when everyone works to their capacity to ensure that the company is generating the optimum profit possible and no one else is having to do the work of an employee with poor work habits. You will always find employees who are excellent examples of teamwork as well as those who are not. Those who promote and exhibit teamwork generally succeed farther in a company than those who do not. Teamwork is at its best when employee relationships are strong.

That brings us to the subject of accountability. This word comes from the same root word as accounting. If you have ever taken an accounting course or worked in accounting you are aware of how diligent one must be to disclose detailed information relating to every penny earned or spent. Accountability, therefore, relates to how close an employee comes to performing the duties assigned to him or her.

An employee who can demonstrate accountability is a much greater asset to a company than the employee who has no answer as to why he or she did not perform up to the expected standards. An accountable employee is especially more valuable than the employee who always seems to have an excuse as to why they cannot perform up to the expected standards.

As an employee, you are accountable to your supervisor. It is your duty to serve your superior to the best of your ability. Your supervisor is also accountable to his or her manager, etc. But, before you make up your mind that this seems like a one-sided arrangement keep these two things in mind: The company is paying you to serve under your supervisor. That's how business works. But the good news is this: Your supervisor is also accountable to you. He or she has a responsibility to you, especially in the area of teamwork.

This is important to you if you are in management. The best manager is one who would also make a good babysitter. This may sound demeaning at first but it follows that, if a person cares about those people in a lesser position, and, watches out for their welfare, managing will be much easier. A manager who is not afraid to work alongside his employees when necessary is a manager that all employees respect and appreciate. A manager who takes time to listen to new ideas is wise to do so. This is a manager who practices good customer service because he understands who his or her customers are. A manager has two sets of customers: External - Those who transact business with the company, and Internal - the employees who serve him or her.

Every company has its own internal culture. An internal culture looks similar to an up-side-down tree whose truck is at the top and the limbs branch out below. It is based upon the management structure of a company. It starts at the top with the owner or president. Then it drops down to board members and vice presidents (depending upon the size of the company). The next level of the culture is made up of management personnel at various levels. Near the bottom of the tree we find the employees. For any culture to survive, just as for any tree to live and grow, nutrients must flow through the trunk and be fed out into the various limbs and branches. The strongest cultures in the business world are those which continue to feed incentives and rewards through the chain of management and out to each employee.

A manager who accepts the nutrients coming from his or her supervisor, and continues to pass them on to the employees, maintains a strong, healthy working environment. Whereas, the manager who accepts the nutrients from supervisors above him or her but neglects the needs of employees below will find him or herself struggling to keep his branch alive and strong. Employees working under such a manager seldom produce at their capacity and often become rebellious.

Teamwork and accountability go hand-in-hand. Teamwork is found where all employees function together as a unit. Accountability is where each individual employee does his or her part to keep the company working as a whole.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT FOR NEXT 24 HOURS

Over the next 24-hour period discuss the principle of teamwork and accountability with your fellow employees and managers. Gather their opinions and attitudes relating to the subject. Jot down their ideas as well as the thoughts that maybe come to mind as a result of these discussions.

If you are not yet employed simply apply the above lesson to those with whom you come into contact.