Teamwork makes the dream work
by Thea Bohn, Team Lead B2B Content
We’ve all been sitting on the couch, holding our breath, while our soccer team was moving along the field, as though connected by invisible threads, reading each other's minds, and finally outsmarting the scattered group of individuals trying to stop them. Score for teamwork! No wonder one of Germany’s most popular soccer magazines is called 11 Freunde instead of, let’s say, 11 Highly Talented Athletes. What makes or breaks teamwork? It’s the level of trust and shared understanding that can only be reached through consistent communication and collaboration.
"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime."
– Babe Ruth
Be it in a company or on the field, a team’s performance is not merely a matter of having highly talented individuals. The magic that makes us hold our breath happens only in the ability of those high performers to come together — when they talk, establish relations, clarify roles, align on strategy, get to know triggers, overcome frustrations — in short, work together for a greater common goal. To reach that goal, communication is of the essence.
My own first insight into the importance of communication to getting things done was when my ballet class had its first Christmas show. I must have been eight years old, and we were about a dozen kids. Needless to say, we all took this performance very seriously. So, it was a shock to all of us when we saw the mirrors of our dance studio replaced by rows of seated parents, meaning we could no longer see what was happening on stage. Throughout the nutcracker suite, we hissed to each other what we were doing, so we could get the timings right without having to constantly turn our heads. We had to rely on communication. In hindsight, our communication should have started a bit earlier than on the evening of the premiere. Still, here I am, decades later, joining my content team to share thoughts on how teamwork makes the dream work, and the impact of this experience is still with me.
One for all, all for one
by Marta Mariani, B2B Content Manager Italy
When asked about my favourite part of my job, my answer has always been the same: my team. I have worked in different countries and different companies, but the aspect that made me want to get up in the morning and go to work was the fact that I could connect with inspiring people, work on exciting projects together, and, of course, crack some jokes during lunch breaks.
I love the idea of working together towards a common goal and helping each other to improve ourselves, personally and professionally, without competition or judgement. I find that a good team is like a sports team that combines the talents of individuals to win a match. But every good team needs an excellent coach — someone that knows how to leverage everyone’s strengths for the common good and fosters open team communication. Therefore, no team can be complete without a team lead that ensures that.
I strongly believe that excellent communication among peers is the key to success— when everyone speaks the same language, it’s easier to work together. And by common language, I do not mean only the same idioms, which are, of course, very helpful for being all on the same page, but also a shared network of values and a common work ethic. A “one for all, all for one” approach.
Let’s win championships, not games
by Lea Naschberger, B2B Content Project Manager
The most talented people can work together and even perform really well — but if they don’t know how to communicate effectively, these successes are flukes rather than long lasting results. Or, as basketball legend Michael Jordan, one of my personal heroes, put it:
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
In order to succeed as a team in the long run, in my opinion, it is crucial to identify and appreciate the skills each team member brings to the table and then build a strategy on that.
When looking at the legendary Chicago Bulls in the 90s, the 3 key players were clearly distinguished by their talents: Jordan was the superstar, Scottie Pippen was his support, and Denis Rodman took care of rebounds*— by relying on their combined talents, they became one of the best teams of all time in sports history. If one of them was not on the basketball court, the other two didn’t perform as well as they did when playing together. Also, they backed each other up when one of them made a mistake, put their team’s performance above their egos, and could rely on each other no matter what. And, not to forget — in Phil Jackson, they had a coach, who accepted their individual personalities and created a working environment where they could play to their potential.
If we translate this success story to the business world, we can take away some key learnings:
- Make strategic decisions based on your team’s talents.
- Don’t force somebody to do something they’re obviously not good at.
- Carry each other when mistakes are made, instead of pointing fingers.
- Support each other with clear communication.
- Create a working environment where people can fulfill their potential.
*This is, of course, a simplification of their roles, but you get the point.
Embracing differences and becoming true team players
by Lilly Miner, B2B Content Marketing Manager
One reason I love working at Babbel is that I get to work in an international team with people from all over the world. Every team member brings a unique skill, perspective, and way of thinking based on previous experiences, cultural background, and other factors. For me personally, I think this makes work more interesting and fun, and, in fact, it’s the place I feel most at home.
As far as the team goes, I can see how diversity brings value by making the team more innovative and adaptable. This applies to a sports team as much as it does to our team at Babbel. If we all had the same strengths and ideas, would we be able to bring the ball to the other side of the court? Would we be able to reach our goals and be as effective in our work as possible? I believe the answer is no.
We need our differences in order to be successful. But our unique skills and talents alone aren’t enough — in fact, they don’t go far without each other’s support. By putting our different skills together, much like creating a toolbox, we create a successful team. And to do this effectively, we need to communicate with each other and collaborate. We need to create a culture where we embrace our differences, where everyone feels accepted and empowered to share their ideas and opinions.
At Babbel for Business, our mission is to support companies in improving their team communication by offering language learning opportunities. I strongly believe improving language skills empowers employees to speak up more, communicate better, and become true team players.
Read our previous open letter on Female Leadership.