Dutch HempelTeamwork

By Dutch Hempel

Have you ever worked with someone who was always preaching the values of Teamwork?
I have.
One character, in a management position, attempted to take the moral high ground, impress the owners of the company, conceal the fact that he was advancing his position at the expense of others and doing virtually no work at all.
As his sermons on teamwork ( and there were a lot of them ) rose to fevered pitch he would claim personal embarrassment by the actions or lack of effort of others on….you guessed it, The Team.
He would pepper each of his speeches with time worn, worthless expressions such as:
“There’s no I in Team!”
“ We all have to pull together!”
“Who’s got the ball?!”
“ No one is better than anyone else in this company, we‘re a Team!”

Ironically this person knew only too well that individual effort is what really mattered but his efforts were put into convincing others that he was doing great things and marginalizing the truly productive efforts of others rather than working.
Did this work?
For awhile and a couple of the company’s owners bought his line of crap, but most of us blocked it or escaped before our brains turned to mush. The last I heard he was demoted.

Although he was by far the worst, I have encountered many such teamwork advocates using this word so holy to business. You can get “Teamwork” paraphernalia, have “Teamwork coaches”, “Teamwork rallies” and join “teams” at work and at play.
I have to admit that I never bought into it and when I read a book by Larry Winget I found myself cheering and yelling: “ Yes!, Finally!”
I buy copies of his books as presents for people, especially for those searching for what I call “workplace common sense”.

Winget is one of my favorite authors, I appreciate his bluntness and common sense. His books mirror so many of my own beliefs that I’m beginning to think we were separated at birth somehow.
If you have an ounce of self determination you’ll enjoy his website and what he has to say.

He reminds me of my high school football coach who would wait until we were doing sit-ups on the dusty practice field, come over and stand on our stomachs while he recited a laundry list of skills and attitudes we needed to improve.
Coach Colburn understood that our success and failure could be traced to the talents and efforts of individuals and he taught us to take responsibility for our actions.
Basic cause and effect stuff.
He punished each of us according to the frequency and severity of our sins at practice:
Missed tackle or block?   1 full lap ( 1/4 mile ) of the track.
Dropped pass or fumble?   2 full laps
Smart off to a coach?  1 full lap
We were allowed to remove our helmets but stayed fully dressed, pads and all.
After one particularly poor practice a group of us set the all time record of 24 laps, that’s 6 miles… in the rain.

Those who were blessed with more talent and put forth more effort played and enjoyed the lessons learned from victories and defeats first hand.
Those who didn’t sat on the bench as spectators.
If the benchwarmers didn’t like their team status they had the same two options we all did:
1. Earn the right to play
2. Quit.
We were all given the opportunity to excel and work towards a common goal.
The common denominator was the effort the individual made, not teamwork.
Think how well your business would do if the same common sense principles were applied.

I’ve included this except from Larry Winget’s book:
It’s Called Work For A Reason…You’re Success Is Your Own Damn Fault

Beware The Team Player

You often hear people talk about how they are “team players”. They brag about how it doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as the work gets done. They smile and say they have the ability to get along with everyone. People love them.
They espouse all of these admirable qualities that at first glance seem to be very positive. How can things that sound so good turn out to be so bad?

The person who doesn’t care who gets the credit is a person who has never gotten credit because her own contribution has never been worthy of the credit. Once you have gotten the credit for your own outstanding performance, you would never say it doesn’t matter. It always matters.
And anyone who says he can get along with everyone has the moral fiber of a wet rag. If you can get along with everyone and everyone loves you, then you don’t stand for much. A person who stands his ground for his principles and won’t compromise his integrity is not loved by everyone. He may be respected but he isn’t liked. What kind of person can get along with everyone? A person who can’t see or is willing to tolerate the stupidity of others. A person who doesn’t care that her coworkers aren’t working. I don’t want that person on my “team”. I want people who are in touch with their beliefs, willing to fight for them, won’t compromise, and won’t tolerate mediocrity in themselves or others.
Don’t misunderstand me here. Every person must be able to get along to the degree that’s necessary to get the work done. Getting the work done is paramount. But working with others to accomplish the job is different is different than being a “team player”.

Larry’s short list on ( not ) working together:

Teamwork doesn’t work because someone on the team won’t work

Instead of teams we should create groups of superstars, exploiting their individuality

Superstars don’t like to share the spotlight. Don’t ask them to.

Superstars love working with other superstars to achieve a common goal.

The same rules don’t apply to everyone. Great results earn you slack.

Good sales cover up a multitude of sins.

Beware of the self-professed team player.

I always appreciate your comments and feedback, thank you for reading my blog.

Henry “Dutch” Hempel


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here