Teamwork Made Simple

Published: November 3, 2015

As complex as the dynamics of most teams may seem, the basics of effective collaboration are not mysterious. Investment builds the team. Trust ties it together. Innovation grows the team. Distancing evolves it. Wherever your team many be in the cycle, there is action to take.  If nothing else, do this:


Investment: Take your organization’s mission statement off the poster and into action. Watching team values unfold in the workplace ignites recruitment and cements retention.

Trust: Determine which teammates are engaged, non-engaged, and disengaged. The engaged group will define your culture. The non-engaged will create drag. The disengaged will poison it.

Innovation: Harness the energy of diversity and conflict to fuel discovery. Creative tension begins with an appreciation of difference and ends with continuous improvement.

Distancing: Welcome change. Whether a revolution you’ve created or an unexpected twist, transitions require stewardship. Be careful to manage all three phases of the change process. Take stock, let go, and move on.

Because teams grow in cycles, the movement from investment to trust to innovation to distancing eventually leads to a new opportunity to anchor your mission. The re-anchored mission, in turn, invites teammates to reconsider their level of engagement. Engaged teammates, once again, take risks and create change. The team adapts and moves on to another round.

Are you in the circle?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.