Several years ago, while I was facilitating a workshop for a client’s management team, several of the participants suggested that there was no good reason for them to behave as a team because they had seemingly independent functions and worked independently. Furthermore, they did not feel that they needed to work together for the department to be successful. Exasperated, the executive to whom these managers reported asked if there were criteria for teamwork or partnering.

That simple question led to a lengthy search for some answers. This search resulted in the development of the following criteria that have helped my clients to decide if the hard work of teamwork or partnering is justified:

  • Shared Vision – Is there sufficient overlap between our individual images of the organization’s future?
  • Interdependency – Do we need to work together to achieve our organization’s goals?
  • Shared Values – Do we agree on what beliefs will govern our behavior as we do our work?
  • Open Communication – Are we willing to be honest with each other and share all relevant information?
  • Shared Responsibility – Are we willing to stand up and be counted together, no matter the outcome of our efforts?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is “No,” the next question is whether or not “No” can be turned into “Yes”. If not, the energy required to build a team or partnership may be better used in other areas. However, if the answers to these questions is “Yes,” there is ample justification for expending the energy that will be required to maximize team or partnership effectiveness, no matter how homogeneous or diverse the work groups. The more widespread the participation, the greater will be the likelihood of organizational excellence.