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Posted on Jul 7, 2014

What Does Teamwork In Business Really Mean?

Teamwork-5-people-holding-puzzle-piecesTeamwork is a commonly referenced value in business. But what exactly does it mean?

Many companies simply state ‘Teamwork’ as a value and assume everyone knows how to behave. If this were true, then Patrick Lencioni didn’t need to write his bestseller The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Effective teamwork is not intuitive. It needs to be defined.

As a differentiating value, Teamwork means cooperative effort of two or more people for a common purpose or goal.

So which part of this definition do you think is harder: creating an environment of cooperation; or clearly defining the goal? The hardest part is actually getting two people to work together.

Someone once made a powerful observation, leveraging a well-known Bible verse:

Where two or three are gathered…. there will be conflict.

Defining what teamwork means in an organization is paramount to creating effective teams.

Sample Definitions of Teamwork

Some companies define teamwork simply and succinctly.

GileadWorking Together.

TennecoSeamless collaboration.

GraingerTrust others and value difference.

Many companies have rather boring and non-descript definitions.

UPSDetermined people working together can accomplish anything.

CarMaxWe work together in the best interest of CarMax and our customers.

Norfolk SouthernWe believe that working together always produces the best results.

EcolabWe take action together. In teams. Teams made stronger by diverse perspectives.

National Oilwell VarcoWe collaborate with our suppliers, our customers and each other to optimize the sum of all individual efforts.

Other companies are more detailed.

Colgate-PalmoliveAll Colgate people are part of a global team, committed to working together across countries and throughout the world. Only by sharing ideas, technologies and talents can the Company achieve and sustain profitable growth.

PNC Financial ServicesIn our business, you can’t be successful without a commitment to teamwork throughout every level of the organization. We work together to meet our goals and, in the process, to help our customers meet their goals.

Eastman ChemicalWe work together effectively to achieve business success. Every day we think and act as owners of the company. As members of the Eastman Team, we are accountable for doing our part to contribute to success.

Sadly, none of these are very creative.

Yum!-Brands-logoBut I think a great definition comes from Yum! Brands which operates the well-known fast food brands: Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut. They refer to this value as “Take the hill teamwork” and define it as follows:

We team together to drive action versus activity. We discuss the undiscussable, always promoting healthy debate and healthy decisions. Our relationships allow us to ask the earth of each other. We make specific verbal contracts to get big things done with urgency and excellence.

Now, this definition has substance!

The leadership team at Yum! Brands clearly understand that teamwork means conflict. But they provide a positive framework to deal with it.

  • Focus on action vs. activity.
  • Be prepared to talk about any topic.
  • Build strong relationships.
  • Encourage open communication.

Since working in teams is such an integral part for most businesses today, imagine the positive impact if more companies would clearly define what teamwork means in their organization


Do you know of a company that defines teamwork well?


Today’s value was selected from the “Enthusiasm-Teamwork” category, based on the e-book Developing Your Differentiating Value.