The Importance of Teamwork in the Workplace

Teamwork is a common term used in the workplace. In fact, in many workplaces it is the only term that is used time and time again and for good reason. Whilst many of us may believe we are capable of working just as effectively on our own than within a team environment, in the majority of cases, it is true that an individual will perform better when nourished by a team.

Teamwork allows the individual to expand on their own skills by learning from others as well as gives them the opportunity to share their existing skills with other members of the team. The overall goal of teamwork is a positive work environment where people are working collaboratively to achieve a common goal – a group of people sharing and learning from one another.

Here are some of the major benefits of teamwork:

Achieve goals efficiently
Teamwork generally helps to achieve the common objective in less time. When a group of people with complementary skills mutually cooperate to accomplish goals, they will complete the work faster than otherwise would be possible.

Enhanced skills and development
Promoting teamwork in the workplace is often recommended as it allows for an enhancement of skills amongst team members. There are a number of people in a team and knowingly or unknowingly, team members will continue to learn from each other’s knowledge and thereby enhance their own knowledge, skills and capabilities.


Using teams most definitely allows more scope for creativity. Since there is more interaction going around than there would be if individuals were working on their own, creative ideas tend to evolve. Often bits of advice from colleagues may help a team member to come up with far more new ideas, than he/she would if they had to go about solving a problem all by themselves.

Enhanced communication
When people work in a team, they have to communicate with each other. As mentioned above, it is with the help of communication that ideas come into fruition. Not only can enhanced communication result in creativity but importantly, it also reduces or eliminates the likelihood of miscommunication or misunderstanding within the workplace.

Esprit de Corps
Team members interact on a continuous basis for the duration of a task. In the process, employees develop friendships, a sense of unity and become committed to the accomplishment of the team’s objectives. This kind of working atmosphere brings together employees in the most fruitful manner.

Equal distribution of work
Since a team is committed towards a common goal, all the members of the team are delegated a chunk of work. This ensures all the members of the team work towards the common goal and not only are a few members burdened with the responsibility of completing the work. A team which ensures that the workload is shared equally across its members is perhaps one of the best examples of teamwork being put to use.

How can we help?

Here in DCP we spend significant amounts of our time working with teams to enhance their performance in all of these areas. We use our knowledge of personality and what makes people tick to enhance awareness in teams on an individual and group basis. We use the highest quality personality tools to aid you in the process of learning more about the individual personalities at play in your team and how they combine to really enhance your teams’ performance as a whole.

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What Makes Strategic Decisions Different – from Rosenzweig’s article in HBR

How to Improve Decision Making

– The Idea

Decisions fall into 4 categories, with the “right” decision making approach depending on 2 key factors – a) How much control the decision maker has over the terms and outcomes of the decision b) How success will be judged, i.e., will it be on relative or absolute terms.

In order to make better strategic decisions individuals need to identify what type of decision they are facing and develop the versatility to change their approach accordingly. Sometimes it is best practice to shift our mindset between both fields. This approach is know as “deliberate practice” and can be a crucial element of high performance.

Four Types of Decisions

  • Routine choices and judgments: Here the goal is to do well but not necessarily to finish first in a competition. E.g., personal investment decisions – you cannot improve performance after you buy shares. Here well-known lessons about avoiding common biases e.g., unrealistic optimism, gamblers fallacy can be applied. Control = low, and Performance = Absolute
  • Influencing Outcomes:Yet with many of our others decisions we can use our energy and our talents to make things happen.  e.g., how long we need to complete a project.  With these types of decisions, optimism and positive thinking can be very important for shaping outcomes.  Control = high, and Performance = Absolute
  • Placing Competitive Bets: This type of decision introduces a third dimension (competition). Success now depends on how you perform relative to others. The best decisions need to anticipate the moves of rivals. Princeton professor Dixit and Yale professor Nalebuff define the essence of strategic thinking as “the art of outdoing an adversary knowing that the adversary is trying to do the same as you” Control = low, and Performance = Relative
  • Fourth Field Decisions- This category involves decisions that are often the most consequential decisions that executive face, (e.g., launch a new product, and acquire a new company). In this field executive can influence the outcomes of their decisions and their choices are only successful if they outperform their competition. This is the essence of strategic management.


When facing these decisions executives need both – careful, dispassionate analysis and a willingness to push the boundaries.  When we can influence outcomes or outperform someone it is essential to have high levels of self-belief. Only those with high levels of commitment and determination will be in a position to win.

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Phantoms in Organisations

Eric Berne used the term phantom to refer to the continuing presence of someone in a group after he or she has left the group. The concept of the phantom is useful in explaining some of the dynamics that are activated when a person leaves an organisation. The way in which an employee exit is handled can lead to different consequences for the remaining group.

Phantoms are what remains (i.e., after a person has been laid off or asked to leave) and are often at greater risk of being formed when (a) the organisation’s procedures are opaque and (b) when the organisations formal, and real aims differ greatly. E.g., Firing someone  can often lead to problems when a decision is not widely accepted, or where there has been lack of transparency around it. These are the circumstances in which a departing worker may leave behind an “active phantom”.

The persistence of these phantoms is proportional to the importance these people played in the group and how much their leaving was traumatic on the group.

The effects of phantoms on the emotional and behavioural climate of the organisation include:

  • Widespread sense of instability if an employee has been fired
  • Overadaptation and agitation
  • Reduced proactive behaviour
  • A loss of trust and business loyalty * especially among self-motivated people

In the majority of organisations phantoms are not useful, so it is better to prevent them from happening.

  • Prepare plans to prevent the formation of phantoms – from deciding not to lay someone off, to identifying effective procedures for doing so.
  • Make people aware when possible of the organisations hidden aims



With regards to leadership, each new leader needs to be aware of the “phantom” left behind by his/her predecessor in order to deal with habits, communication style, and the group culture implemented by the person, as well as the expectations of leadership.


* taken from Marco Mazzetti’s “Phantoms in Organizations”


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There Are No One-Size-Fits-All Management Styles

There are forests worth of books espousing their own management styles. There’s probably a copse of books within that management forest telling you that you need to constantly adapt and change your style. However the idea of management styles suggests that management is a top down activity, something that is imposed on workers that they will respond to. The reality of the situation is that each business sector, each business unit and each business activity all need different styles of management. There will be elements that unite management across all those parts of an industry but the only universal element is when it comes to management is “people” and people are unique.

Every employee you deal with will be unique, their own person and have aspects to their personalities individual to them. The universal of managing people is that once you recognize this you can become a far more effective leader.
management styles

There are questions that human resources will ask by default in every job interview, “Are you a team player?” is the number one. Of course some people are not team players, but if they’re looking for a job they’re sure to say they are. Others grow up dreaming of working in a team, be it a sports team or a team of software developers who share their passion for code. Another question asked is “How do you deal with high stress environments?” And again most people will give an answer they believe the business is looking for. That is all part of the interview process. Finding out the true personality of a potential hire is difficult, and unless you have true expertise in hiring processes at every interview you will learn a little, but maybe not enough.

Once someone is in the business and under your purview the real challenge starts. Those questions you asked in during the interview need to be top in your mind as you manage. You need to be asking yourself, “How does he deal with stress?” and “Is she really a team player?” After a few months you will have an idea of the basic capabilities of the person but it is only by really understanding someone that you can bring out their best work.

Despite the answers given in the interview process everyone will approach teamwork differently, and everyone will have a different response to stress. The management styles you need to act on every day are the ones where you come to understand people’s responses to a situation and create an environment that works best for each individual. These questions were important during the hiring stage to see if the person would fit in the business and the different management styles. They are even more important now that you’ve decided the person can be a valuable member by making sure they can bring their best to the team.

Helping Young Adults Stay Motivated While Unemployed

It has been almost five years since the Irish economy took a turn for the worst. At the moment it seems people are getting a break from the doom and gloom, or at least the gloom of the weather. We have sunshine and the beaches are thronged but despite that there are still people sitting in their rooms despairing at the situation they find themselves in. There was a recent BBC article about NEETs, young people Unemployed, Education or Training that found that over a third of people in this circumstance have suffered depression, even more are stressed and a similar amount feel they will never find employment. Although these are figures for the UK it is not outlandish to suggest that the same problems are facing many in Ireland. And the true scale of the problem is hidden with so many deciding to continue in education and so many emigrating.

youth unemployment ireland

While there is constant debate about how the national government, the EU and global organizations should solve the situation there is often very little time given to the immediate and personal situation many people face.

The most important thing to remember is that every person facing this situation reacts differently. Some people can cope, others struggle but put on a brave face while others still barely leave their house and just about manage to get through their day. While unemployment is a common problem it is also an individual problem and everyone needs to be afforded the understanding that they will have a different attitude and reaction to it than others. If someone you know is down on themselves because of unemployment and lack of opportunity it’s important not to make comparisons to others. They won’t be reassured by hearing, “Aren’t thousands of people in the same situation as you?” The problem is very real and very individual to every person facing it.

The real key to beating the problems arising from unemployment, if not unemployment itself is structure. It can be very easy to stay up all night watching films and sleep all day, but once that begins any routine to your day is lost. Trying to maintain a structured day is critical. People often value their time more when they are in a job, and when you are unemployed the time you have available to you seems endless but nothing is achieved despite that. Keeping a structure to your day will help you value your time, when you value your time you will get more out of your day and the more you do the happier you can be with your circumstances.

As anyone involved in career coaching will tell you potential employers value people who make do to achieve the best they can. No matter what you do you will never have a perfect environment. Making do despite your circumstances, even if you only see small improvements is all anyone can ask of you. Asking for help when times are tough is what any employer would want an employee to do. And recognizing that things are bad for the young unemployed is something everyone needs to accept.

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Reveal your hidden skills and talents with psychometrics – Irish Times article by Carol Ryan with interview of Amber Hanna & David Keane of DavittCP

Air hostess takes a battery of psychometric tests, discovers a serious talent for maths, leaves her job of 13 years and becomes a lecturer in mechanical engineering.

This is Lorna Fitzsimons’s career trajectory, if a little reductive. At first glance, her job history charts the tough slog of an academic career – an undergraduate course, a PhD scholarship won on the back of a first-class honours degree and post-doctoral work – all of which led to her current role as a lecturer in DCU.

Just one line tucked at the end of this list, “senior cabin crew with Aer Lingus”, hints at a radical career change in her past.

She got a job with Aer Lingus in 1990 and enjoyed the travel in her early 20s. By 2003, she was considering moving on.

“I was senior crew at that stage but there wasn’t much opportunity for promotion. I thought ‘Am I going to do this for the rest of my life, or shall I just bite the bullet and try something different?’”

She approached a career consultant with a hunch that she might like to work in maths or engineering. It turned out she had a lot of untapped talent.

After she took psychometric tests that measured her personality, interests and aptitudes, the psychologist told her that her maths ability registered in the 99th percentile. Amazingly, her potential had not been picked up in school where she took pass maths at Leaving Cert.

“I had always liked maths in school but it wasn’t taught well so I dropped to pass. I suppose that knocked my confidence.”

After the tests, she went back to study honours Leaving Cert maths, applied to study engineering and spent the next few years working her way up to a job she clearly enjoys that plays to her strengths.

“It gave me a boost. The whole testing process was very interesting and I would definitely say to anyone thinking of changing careers to go and see where their strengths lie.”

Existential gulf
Even in an economy where people are grateful for any work at all, finding a satisfying job is still something of a life calling. Steve Jobs’s famous 2005 Stanford graduation speech – in which he said, “You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle,” – hit home with millions of people precisely because there is so often a gulf between the potential we feel we have, and the lives we get to live in reality.

Thousands of people have latent talent that is not being used in their career.

So should more of us be taking psychometric tests to find out what we are good at?

Psychometric means “mind measurement”. The tests can chart the unobservable about a person, such as how their mind works and their mental resilience, and can spot talents that may have gone unnoticed.

There are two main categories: cognitive tests that measure psychological skills (such as whether you are a critical or an abstract thinker, or your levels of verbal and numerical reasoning); and personality tests that measure where your strengths lie (what kind of work you are drawn to, whether you tend towards introversion or extraversion, how you cope with pressure and how you relate to others).
Personality inventory
Analysis of people’s psychological make-up is on the increase. Some 3.5 million complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory, probably the world’s best-known psychometric test, every year and 85 per cent of FTSE 100 companies now use them for recruitment.

They are used in sport where psychological strength is being used to predict on-field performance. Footballer Nicklas Bendtner recently stunned Arsenal’s sports psychologists when he recorded the highest self-confidence rating they had seen.

The tests can have a bad reputation as many companies use them to “weed out” unsuitable candidates in recruitment. But used to your own advantage, they can spot strengths that could be an asset in a career change.

According to Irish corporate psychologists Davitt Corporate Partners, the numbers coming to them looking for psychometric testing and coaching to find the right career match has actually increased since the economic slowdown.

Back to square one
Some find their hand forced by redundancy, but many are coming of their own accord to search for more fulfilling work.

“People are coming in off their own bat. Some have an innate interest in finding out what drives them or they may have found themselves in a job where they are not really happy, not thriving, and they just realise ‘I’m in the wrong area, what else could I do?’” says corporate psychologist Amber Hanna.

She adds that knowing your strengths is crucial.

“Knowing what you are good at is probably the most important thing in career success and many people neglect it.”

For some people, the tests simply give them confidence to pursue long-held goals.

David Keane, also a psychologist with Davitt Corporate Partners, remembers a woman who came to him three years ago who had always wanted to be a doctor but did not get enough points in the Leaving Cert for medicine.

“We went through the tests and it turned out she was more than smart enough to be a doctor and had all the requisite skills.

“She got in contact a while later to say she had done the HPat [the medical admissions test] and was going to medical school.

“The results just gave her the boost she needed to pursue it.”

Carol Ryan, Journalist with the Irish Times.

This Article was published in the Health Supplement of the Irish Times on Tuesday 27th August 2013.

Here is a link to the original article.

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The Stages of Development – Leadership

  •  The  Egocentric Self – This stage usually ends with adolescence when people learn how to pursue their wants within a larger system of competing needs.  Progression through this stage means recognising that the world does not revolve around “me” and what “I” want. One must give up this “egocentric” agenda in order to take up a functioning membership in society. 5% of adults never fully make this transition. Leaders at this stage tend to be very controlling. Organisations whose culture is organized at this level are dictatorial and oppressive


  • The Reactive (Socialised) Self – At this stage the self is made secure and valuable by belonging to and being successful within the prescribed socially accepted norms. People at this stage do not recognise how their goals and behaviours are actually predetermined by others or by a culture. Leaders at this level care deeply about their employees, but still limit their decision making and creativity to the top. Organisations operating at this level tend to be hierarchical and efficient. 


  • The Creative (Independent) Self  – Only 20% of adults in our culture make it to this level. Here people recognize that sometimes following one’s own path means disappointing others, or risking failure or contradicting the norms that link us to society and hence how we define ourselves. Leaders at this level begin to share power and the development of the self and others is prized. Organisation’s who operate at this level are structured on high performing, self managed teams. Whilst leadership is shared it is not yet a true partnership; creativity and critical decision making is developed and expected at all levels 


  • The Integral Self – Only about 5 % of adults develop to this stage- with another 5-10% in transition to it – here we begin to recognize that we are all complex multidimensional beings, with underdeveloped strengths, and weaknesses. Leaders at this level become systemically and community oriented. The organisation is seen a s a network of stakeholders nested within a larger system of networks. Vision becomes global. Sustainability and long term common good become salient values. This is the level of servant leadership. 


  • The Unitive Self – this stage seldom, if ever, develops without meditation and long term spiritual practice. At this point another major shift occurs – where the self realizes that “I am not the body nor the mind”. Leadership at this level is rate – leaders at this level function as global visionaries and enact world service for the universal good. 


By Bob Anderson, taken from the Spirit of Leadership

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The 4 Quadrants of Change

Systemic change is exceedingly complex, and for any change effort to be successful it must address 4 quadrants of change. Studies show that when change efforts are unsuccessful it tends to be as a direct result of critical variables being ignored. It is often the more invisible, insidious,  quadrants of personal and cultural change are often ignored.

Quadrant 1:  individual/internal aspect of change. This is  the area of cognitive,  and psychological development. In this  quadrant leaders attend to the inner development of people, recognizing that no substantive change is possible without a prior change in consciousness.

Quadrant 2 : individual/external aspects of change. This is the domain of technical and interpersonal skills as well as the science (physiology/neurology/ psychology) of peak performance.  Leaders pay attention to skill development, motivation, and ensuring peak performance.

Quadrant 3: the collective/ internal aspects of change. ie., culture  This is the interior, (often hidden), assumptions and images that we share with others.  Leaders need to pay attention to the deeper meanings of symbols, purpose, vision and values-not so much as written, framed, statements, but, as the subtle messages encoded in our day-to-day interactions.

Quadrant 4: collective/external aspects of change, the social organization system.

Organizational design, technology workflow, policies, and procedures. System design  determines performance and that if we want to get the system to perform at a substantively higher level, we must design for it.


Each of these quadrants is related to all the others. Development of one quadrant is inextricably bound up with all the others, and ignoring one will undermine attempts at sustainable change. e.g.,

Culture stimulates (or impedes) individual development and vice versa.
Organizational structure shapes culture (and vice versa), which defines the  opportunities people have/take for self-expression and growth.
Consciousness shapes and guides the design of the system and vice versa.

Author: Bob Anderson – The Leadership Circle

10 Ways We Get Smarter As We Age

1. Your hemispheres sync up.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres (each specializing in different operations). Brain scans show that while young people often use only one side for a specific task, middle-aged and older adults are more likely to activate both hemispheres at once—a pattern known as bilateralization – hence making better connections among the disparate parts of a problem or situation.

2. Your brain never stops growing.

3. Your reasoning and problem-solving skills get sharper.

A study prepared for the Brookings Institute found that middle-aged people make smarter money decisions—with the best performance notched by those in their early 50s.

4. You can focus on the upside.

Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford University asked a group of subjects ages 18 to 94 to record their emotional states at five random times a day for a week. She repeated the procedure with the same participants five years later, and then again five years after that. Participants reported more positive well-being and greater emotional stability as time went on. This may be due to changes in how the  emotion-processing center of the brain (amydgala)—responds to positive and negative events .

5. Your people skills are constantly improving.

As we get older, our social intelligence keeps expanding, we understand ourselves and others better.

6. Your priorities become clearer.

 7. You’re always adding to your knowledge and abilities.

Some kinds of information (eg vocabulary) we learn and never forget. Studies show that we keep adding new words as we age, giving us ever richer,  more subtle ways to express ourselves. Job-related knowledge also continues to accumulate, meaning we keep getting better and better at what we do.

8. You can see the big picture.

 9. You gain control of your emotions.

In a study published in 2009, psychologist Vasiliki Orgeta, PhD, evaluated younger and older adults and concluded that older adults (between ages 61 and 81) had more clarity about their feelings, made better use of strategies to regulate their emotions, and had a higher degree of control over their emotional impulses.

 10. You become an instant expert, even in new situations.

As the brain encounters new experiences, it develops schemas— these are mental frameworks that allow us to recognize and respond to similar circumstances in the future . By midlife we’ve accumulated so many schemas that help give us our bearings even in novel situations.

Antisocial teens more likely to become entrepreneurs

Researchers from the University of Stockholm recently published  a study  showing how modest antisocial behavior among adolescent boys was a positive indicator of future entrepreneurship (the  relevant characteristic was behavior rather than beliefs. When it came to antisocial attitudes that did not result in rule-breaking, the researchers found no correlation with entrepreneurship).

The study used data on an entire Swedish grade-school cohort that was tracked into its mid-40s. It controlled for socioeconomic status and IQ, although did find that the wealthier and smarter students were more likely to become entrepreneurs (for both males and females).

From the study:

These results  suggest that male entrepreneurs, when compared to male non-entrepreneurs, may go through a somewhat stronger rebellious and non-conformist phase in adolescence with regard to their behaviors; they may “drift” towards antisocial involvements in their adolescent years without becoming outlaws or developing into notorious criminals.

In many ways, the findings do make a certain sort of sense.

Entrepreneurs are, almost by definition, looking to take risky actions that somehow upset the status quo. At the same time, however, they are generally viewed as pro-social individuals (thanks to job creation, etc.). So perhaps those punishments for breaking rules as a teen are made up for as an adult, when you are admired for directing those antisocial tendencies into something more productive than cutting class.


For the full article please see…-Dan Primack Fortune