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The Boomer Bulletin - 2016
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Create a Culture of Teamwork

Posted By Jon Hubbard, Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The concept of teamwork, sometimes referred to as internal client service, is generally understood throughout organizations of all purpose and size. However, how team members think about teamwork can vary drastically and depends on their educational and cultural understanding of the function of teams. There are many best practices, resources and methodologies organizations use to improve how their teams work together more efficiently and effectively. Without a cohesive, organization-wide understanding of teamwork, individuals within an organization won’t be able to fully benefit from working as a team.

Teamwork has many benefits including improved performance, morale, communication, innovation, quality and loyalty to an organization. It is in an organization’s best interest to develop a culture of teamwork. Before the concept of internal client service can be understood in an organization, we must first define internal client service, discuss how a culture of internal client service can be created and how an organization can continue to support a culture of internal client service.

What is Internal Client Service?

While teamwork and internal client service are often used interchangeably, it is helpful to focus on a specific definition to frame our understanding for the purpose of this article. Internal client service can be defined as the service we provide fellow employees and other departments within our own organizations, as well as our suppliers and anyone else with whom we work to get our jobs done. In other words, internal client service is referring to the level of service offered to team members and coworkers.  It is viewing team members and coworkers first as clients. Typically, when the phrase “client service” is used, it’s referring to external clients. However, organizations can learn a lot from applying external client service best practices to internal clients.

Importance of Internal Client Service

It can be argued that today’s business environment is more challenging than ever before. Challenges include attraction and retention of employees, reducing costs while maximizing profits, and motivating employees while increasing productivity. Technology plays a crucial part of most organizations and is changing daily. Teams are being required to collaborate like never before. Technology has allowed more and more employees to work remotely. How teams work together while in the same physical location differs from how teams work together when several of the members are remote.

Over the last 50 years the pace at which organizations are going global has accelerated.  As organizations grow globally, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the formal structure of the organization. Leaders are finding it challenging to adapt to managing their staff and maintain high-performing teams while spread across the world. As the business environment continues to change rapidly, organizations are forced to react quickly or risk becoming obsolete. With this rapid change comes the need for change management, setting clear goals, managing expectations and communicating clearly and consistently.

A leading generational expert stated that, by 2020, there could be up to seven generations overlapping in the work force. This is a result of work-life expectancy increasing and more professionals delaying retirement. While this could be significant strength for the organizations that understand generational differences, most organizations would consider this a problem. Many challenges organizations will face due to generational overlap include communication, work-life expectations and technology skills.

If organizations want to be successful in today’s environment, they must learn how to create a culture of teamwork. It is the responsibility of each individual within the organization to strive to offer a high level of internal client service to their coworkers. Having a firm methodology for what it means to be a “team player” is crucial to a firm’s long-term growth.

Determine Your Firm’s Approach to Teamwork

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are many methods organizations use to create a culture of teamwork. I’d recommend your firm examine what defines your teamwork culture. One methodology many firms have embraced is the Five Star Client Service - Internal program. You can learn more about this program by reading an article I wrote last year, “Seven Keys to Five Star Client Service” (http://www.boomer.com/blogpost/1235082/208476/Seven-Keys-to-Five-Star-Client-Service).

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