Bruce held our partners spellbound for two and a half hours.
Graham Baragwanath, Managing Partner (fmr.), Deloitte Consulting Canada

Teaching Teamwork

Our research shows consistently that Gen Zers are least likely to form significant lasting peer-bonds in workplaces with less challenging work, less structure, less supervision and less interaction with authority figures. The greater the challenge, structure, supervision, and interaction with authority figures, the more likely Gen Zers are to form significant peer-bonds in the workplace. Yes, the key to creating those so-important authentic personal “loyalties” among your Gen Z employees —like the personal loyalty we see among young people working together in the military — is creating conditions in which they can do lots of challenging work together under the strong direction of a highly-engaged leader.

When young soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors talk about their “loyalty,” they invoke first and foremost their commitment to each other — to their peers and to their most immediate leaders. But those peer bonds are hardly forming organically: They are not “self managed,” but rather have a strict chain of command with clear leaders who are strong and highly engaged. They don’t get to choose who is going to be on their team. They don’t get to choose their own peer leaders. They don’t get to choose their own mission. They don’t get to choose their own positions on the team. Not everybody gets to be the MVP. Not everybody gets a trophy. The peer bonding is not forced, but all of the conditions are forced and the peer bonding follows.

Make Them Aware, Make Them Care

This is the message I recommend managers deliver when they are trying to convince their young employees to really care about developing good teamwork skills:

“For the most part, at work, you don’t get to choose who is going to be on your team. You don’t get to choose your own leaders. You don’t get to choose your own mission. You don’t get to choose your own position. Not everybody gets to be the MVP. Not everybody gets a trophy. But everybody on the team did choose to be in this job at this time. As long as you remain here, we are all in this together. We must depend upon each other in order to succeed. So we must each be dependable to each other.

Yes, some people pull more weight than others. Some people do more work, better, faster, and with a better attitude. But don’t ever tell yourself you are doing a great job if you are not also being a great team player. Being a great team player is part of your job here. That means staying focused on our shared mission and how each person contributes to that shared mission. It means making yourself available and easy to work with. It means coordinating, cooperating and collaborating with others. It means playing your assigned position as needed to support the larger effort. It means focusing on the best interest of the whole, sometimes at the expense of your own prominence. It means supporting your other team members and helping them succeed and celebrating their successes.

In short, here’s the bottom line: Some people really get things done. Right? And there are plenty of times when you need to get things done and you need someone’s help. Right? So you want to be able to go to the right people, the ones who really get things done. Right? Those people are known as “go to” people. That’s because everybody —just like you— wants to “go to” those people. Get it? “Go to” people don’t just get things done. They get things done for other people. That’s why “go to” people are the most in-demand people in the workplace. Because everyone knows they can be relied upon to deliver for the team. Be one!

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