How “Teamwork Makes The Dream Work” – The Definition

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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There are still heated debates about the origin of the saying, ‘Teamwork makes the dream work.’ Nonetheless, this inspiring quote remains relevant, especially in today’s culturally diverse workplaces where teammates might share clashing principles.

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

After many years of working with different teams before joining UNI Global Union, I’ve gained deep insights into defining and boosting workplace teamwork morale. Keep scrolling to learn more!

Why Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

Teams bring together different members with unique skills, which together form a comprehensive approach to challenges or daily tasks. The entire project benefits from each member’s experience and, thus, reduces the need for extensive training or relying on a single person to wear multiple hats simultaneously. 

Team of professionals celebrating success

Also, knowing your team relies on you to complete your given part will motivate you to perform at your best! 70% of the participants in my recent survey agreed with this. They felt more compelled to strive hard and commit to the entire team’s success, not just their own. 

Thanks to the supportive team network, everyone can celebrate milestones or collaborate/offer constructive criticism during setbacks. Such open communication paves the way for a strong, adaptable team that readily faces any future challenge.

What Is Defined As Effective Teamwork? 

1. Effective Communication

Misunderstandings due to a lack of information can significantly put everyone behind schedule. Good teamwork ensures everyone is on the same page and allows for clarification when necessary. 

Specifically, the entire team is informed about progress, challenges, and important details to make better decisions. Since they are aware of the overall picture, the members can adjust their resolutions and adapt to the team’s workflow accordingly. 

2. Respect

Diversity in backgrounds, skills, and principles brings a wider range of perspectives to the table and makes UNI Global Union a successful organization. We value these differences and strive to make everyone comfortable sharing their ideas. That’s called “respect” in teamwork! 

As the members are properly recognized in the workplace, they will be more motivated to continue their best work and engage more with others. Each person harbors a sense of “ownership” over the project’s success, the backbone of every dedicated and productive team.

Mutual respect also means the members should feel safe admitting mistakes with others. Only then can they learn from their experiences and make impressive progress in the future. 

3. Collaboration

Team Building Activities For Problem-Solving

A clear understanding of the team’s goals guarantees everyone is working towards the same outcome. 

Aligning individual goals with the team’s is even better, as it creates a true sense of shared direction. Everyone is invested in the collective outcome and goes the extra mile to support others, combining strengths in different individual ideas to bring out the best, most effective solutions.

4. Equal Participation

An empowered team must solicit input from everyone (even some quieter team members) so everyone’s perspective is rightfully considered. 

This approach not only strengthens the team’s unity but also uncovers valuable insights that might otherwise get lost. The more diverse the ideas, the more likely you will land on a creative yet brilliant solution! 

Fair task distribution also gives everyone a chance to prove they belong. A member often left out or assigned something unrelated to his strongest assets will unlikely provide his best support to other teammates.

5. Positive Attitudes

colleagues discuss common task or project

A positive outlook is contagious; enthusiastic and motivated members inspire others and brighten the work environment. My survey also reveals a close connection between positive team energy and increased productivity (plus a greater willingness to tackle challenges).

So, when faced with obstacles, a strong team should focus on finding solutions rather than getting bogged down in negative thoughts. It is also important to take time to acknowledge and celebrate achievements together! Recognition at work is a huge motivator, after all; it will encourage everyone to set even higher goals. 

See more: 9 Examples Of Effective Team Dynamics

How To Be A Good Team Player

1. Be Reliable

Don’t go back on your promises. 

Consistently follow through on deadlines and complete tasks as assigned to demonstrate your professionalism! Other teammates know they can rely on you every single time to deliver your part, which reduces the risk of delays (or scrambling to fix last-minute issues) and inspires confidence in the project’s true success. 

2. Active Listening

Feedback to Manager Examples

Pay close attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues of your teammates, and remember to ask clarifying questions and paraphrase key points if necessary! 

When you show them you’re trying to understand their perspectives, they will be more trusting and honest with their ideas; such open communication is the fuel every team needs to operate smoothly. Better, the team can address potential issues early and get to their roots as quickly as possible. 

3. Communicate Clearly

A rule of thumb is to express your ideas in a way that is easy for others to understand. Avoid jargon and technical terms (unless necessary). Also, be mindful of your audience’s schedule and attention span!

Clear communication reduces confusion and waste time; you don’t have to spend hours clarifying things or backtracking. Plus, everyone will feel more comfortable contributing to discussions if the information is laid out right from the start. 

4. Offer Your Help And Support

Remember that you are not working by yourself. Be willing to support your teammates who are struggling or overloaded with work: share what you know, take on extra tasks, or simply give them a few kind words. 

It encourages a positive culture of back-and-forth reciprocity. If team members know they can rely on each other for support, they are more likely to go the extra mile themselves! In my experience, people who help each other out (despite not being asked to do so) will collaborate very effectively in the future in the face of emergencies or obstacles. 

5. Be Open to Feedback 

Constructive criticism is not as terrifying as you might think; it’s a great opportunity to learn and improve your skills, ultimately making yourself a valuable asset to the team. Otherwise, working in a competitive environment with a closed mindset will only be a huge blow to your career in the long run.

6. Maintain A Positive Attitude

manager joking with his junior colleagues

Be enthusiastic and solution-oriented, and avoid negativity that might bring down team morale. 

As I explained, optimism is infectious. You will do everyone a favor by showing up at the workplace at your very best, and it will inspire others to be at their best, too. Countless studies (both at UNI Global Union and other research centers) have pointed out the drastic difference in productivity between a positive and negative team.

5 Ways to Encourage Teamwork Among Employees

As a leader or manager, you must be wondering how to tie everyone in your dream team together. Here are some of my tried-and-true tips: 

1. Set Clear Common Goals

This one is self-explanatory. Clearly define the team’s overall goals to provide your team with direction. Once everyone understands the “why” and how their role contributes to the bigger picture, they will make better decisions regarding their daily tasks and feel more motivated to work towards that goal. 

Remember to break down the company goal into individual tasks with specific deadlines and deliverables. Not only is it much easier for you to track but the members can also celebrate their own progress along the way. It’s a win-win situation.

2. Promote A Sharing Culture

You must actively create a safe space for everyone to share concerns and feedback without fear or judgment. 

It might sound like a huge challenge, but some of the most ordinary ideas have proven effective for many large corporations. Examples: regular team meetings, team seminars, anonymous feedback channels, open-door policy,… Friendships between members will blossom, and you, as their understanding leader, will also gain more respect and trust. 

3. Recognize Individual And Team Achievements

You can do it through verbal praise, written recognition, team outings, or even a small nod of appreciation. 

Regardless of the methods, make sure the members know their achievements are acknowledged. Don’t let anyone think the team will be the same with or without them. Just imagine every single member of your team has that same mindset; you would reach nowhere near your goal.

4. Team-Building Activities

Blind Directions

These activities encourage communication between members – even those who believe they have few things in common with each other – and break down any other existing barriers. It would be even better to choose a non-work setting so they can bond at a more personal level.

5. Address Conflicts

Conflicts are inevitable in a large, culturally different team. As a leader, you must step in immediately to divert the crisis towards a more solution-oriented direction. Finding common ground between both parties is also important. 

If you set a good example of addressing conflicts, the rest of the team will likely follow suit, even handling everything themselves without your intervention! This is also clear proof of your excellent leadership. 

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Before discussing the solution with both parties, address the conflict privately with each person first. They will have an open, more honest conversation with you without pressure from colleagues. Actively listen to both sides of the story and don’t interrupt.
  • If necessary, document the agreed-upon solution to avoid future misunderstandings.
  • Follow up with both of them after some time to ensure the conflict is resolved, and there are no lingering issues.


Working with different people on the same team will always be a huge challenge, but I hope these insights from my recent surveys at UNI Global Union can inspire some ideas in you. Feel free to reach out if you need further advice on how to build a healthy team.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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