The Joy of Teamwork

Kathy Fortin

October 19, 2018

The Joy of Teamwork

 Recently, I was in the presence of two friends who reminisced about working together. One of them already worked for the company that was undertaking a major computer conversion, a project that took a year. A core group of software experts were hired to help implement the system. On the business front, the conversion was completed on time and within budget. It was considered a total success. As far as my friends were concerned, the project was a great experience and one they will never forget. Ten years hence, they say it was the best project they have ever worked on. I enjoyed listening to their enthusiasm and was struck that I do not hear more about this sense of comradery and accomplishment in the workplace.

 Hearing my two friends reminisce, I saw the reasons the project had gone so well. They talked about how everyone got along. Afterward, a number of them had stayed in touch, like my friends had. While everyone worked long and hard, sometimes up to ten or twelve hours a day, they still got along. There were no egos or private agendas at play, they recalled. Though the group was made up of a diverse group of individuals, some from different parts of the United States and a couple from outside of the country, they became a unified team. Together, they “made it happen,” they recalled. As experts, some had said the conversion could just as easily failed, had it not been for having the right team.

 Because of the scale of the project, the company could afford to rent separate office space, creating a war room, without distractions, where they focused only on the project tasks. The space became an incubator, for the designated purpose of delivering a high-risk project, with a tight deadline.

 Here are a few observations I made while listening to my two friends:

  1. There was no hierarchy that got in the way of work. Project Manager, database person, programmer and others were equals. They respected their roles and supported each other in every way.
  2. Despite differences that came from their diverse backgrounds, this group enjoyed working together and everyone was sorry to see the project end.
  3. The goals were clear. The timeline was set. The team members were each well qualified. They were paid well for their skills and talent. There was equal motivation to get to the finish line.
  4. People who get along can enjoy working hard. Even under times of stress, with deadlines and problems mounting, short tempers were understood and quickly forgotten.

 I believe teamwork leads to everyone’s success, no matter what the business environment. This also applies to law firms. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Listening to my friends, I am more convinced that creating the right team and making the project goals clear are essential. This leads me to question: How would you evaluate the effectiveness of teamwork in your law firm and can it be improved so that success is achieved by everyone?