What is Teamwork?

What is Teamwork?

Workplace Culture & Connection

At humanworks8, we believe “Everyone Connects.” Some might call that teamwork, but “teamwork” is often misunderstood and overused.

We asked AI Chat, “What is teamwork?”

“Teamwork is the collaborative effort of a group of individuals with a common goal or purpose. It involves working together, sharing ideas, skills, and knowledge to achieve a specific outcome. Effective teamwork requires good communication, mutual respect, and the ability to problem-solve and make decisions together. Whether it’s in the workplace, sports, or any other group activity, teamwork is essential for success.”

But teamwork doesn’t start with a team; It starts with an individual. And it doesn’t start with collaboration; It starts with connection.

Then we asked AI Chat, “What is ineffective teamwork?”

It included in its commentary…“Ineffective teamwork can result in conflicts.” But conflict is needed on a team.

Then, “Ineffective teamwork is when the team works against itself.” We’re not even sure what that means.

Five Factors AI Missed About Teamwork

We do agree that a common purpose or goal is necessary to be called a team, but here are five factors we think AI Chat missed about teamwork:

  1. Shared Values: If people working together do not understand one another’s values – this thing called teamwork cannot exist.
  2. Individual Strengths: If people working together do not understand and cannot fully leverage the individual strengths of one another – this thing called teamwork cannot exist.
  3. Connection: If people working together do not feel a compassionate and empathetic connection to one another – this thing called teamwork cannot exist.
  4. Commitment: If people working together are not at the same commitment level – this thing called teamwork cannot exist.
  5. Synergy: If people working together do not understand synergy – this thing called teamwork cannot exist.

How would considering those five elements from the very beginning jumpstart this thing called “high-performing teams?”

(You weren’t just hoping they would happen naturally, were you?)

How do you re-set your thinking around high-performing teams?

Shared Values

If there is a disconnect or lack of knowledge about someone’s values and motivation between people, that’s where trouble starts on a team. How do you have team members clarify those themselves as well as share with their working partners? Google popularized this idea after launching the results of a 2015 team effectiveness study. The Google People Operations team called this out as “meaning of work” – Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us? How quickly could teams transform if they started here, with individual values? It’s also important for each individual to see their own values in the organization’s values as well…

Individual Strengths

What work are you doing or have you done to understand the individual talents and ways of working for people you are putting together on a project team? Consider their cognitive intelligence, their affective personalities, and their conative striving instincts. What can they rely on from one another? What if everyone on a team knew that answer about one another? There’s power in that understanding.


If shared values and recognizing individual strengths are achieved, it leads to connection. Everyone Connects – it’s universal – we all want connection. And connection grows from compassion and empathy around ones values and strengths. That 2015 Google Study, and the recent well-being framework released by the U.S. Surgeon General call out psychological safety – Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed? The research says this is the foundation of connection, of teamwork. 


Commitment is about taking intentional action toward a common purpose or goal. Not just believing it is a good thing, and not just knowing it is a good thing, but being driven to strive for something new based on those things.


Does every team need to be synergistic? Not necessarily, but many do and are not. Most teams need synergy to get their best results. Too often, individuals are thrown together and told to figure it out without specific information that could aid in their fast bonding and leveraging of one another’s abilities. The tool humanworks8 uses to solve this challenge is the Kolbe System™ and with that wisdom we can predict with accuracy whether a team will be successful based on the natural drivers of its participants.  Having that insight of a team is a valuable picture that provides confidence and can help guide the team to more successful outcomes.

What is Teamwork? It’s an Outcome.

It takes two. Two is better than one.

Let’s stop working on teamwork based on the latest thing LinkedIn says and start with putting together a practice of purposeful actions that bring people together so they can perform at their best, recognized and honored by everyone.

Teamwork results from many little things you do and how you as a leader set a group of individuals up for success – It’s the result of many ways of working.

Teamwork is the outcome; It is not the practice.

Listen to this post in podcast form in episode four of the Culture(&) Podcast, part of the GGG Unleashed series, and subscribe to hear more about workplace culture and leadership.

The Kolbe System™ is a registered trademark of Kathy Kolbe and Kolbe Corp.