What Meerkats Can Teach Us About Teamwork and Unity

Jack Gill

04 Feb 2022 · 6 mins read

What Meerkats Can Teach Us About Teamwork and Unity

So much of our language is dominated by phrases aspiring to be big, tough animals; to be strong “like a bull” or having the “heart of a lion”. Less frequently are we encouraged to be like a meerkat. Yes, those small, rodent-like descendants of the mongoose actually hold many admirable qualities, including their resilience and determination. 

However, what is particularly impressive about meerkats is their team working abilities; their undying commitment to supporting one another in the pursuit of food and shelter. 🏡

Small, but mighty, the humble meerkat can teach us a lot about working in unison. Though our pint-sized pals do not possess those immediately impressive physical qualities, they do have a knack for helping each other out — not just surviving, but thriving. 

Read on to find out some of the valuable lessons you and your team can learn. 

Communicate regularly and effectively 

They say home is where the heart is but, for a meerkat, it’s also a hive of communication and survival. We’re sure you’re familiar with a burrow —  a meerkat’s tunnel-like home that can stretch 16ft in diameter and up to 6-and-a-half deep. 

As meerkats search for food in the desert landscape that surrounds these sandy enclosures, they will take turns in alerting each other of any nearby dangers. One or more meerkats will always be outside the burrow watching for potential threats and will let off a whining noise to alert its furry friends of anything that appears in its view.🔎

Accessibility is also a key feature of this accommodation; burrows will have multiple entrances across their space, which not only allows the meerkats to move freely through the tunnels, but also gives each one a purpose as they take turns in guarding these gateways.

Where meerkats differ from other groups of animals like ants or birds is that they rely on vocal, over visual, communication. Us humans can use both forms of communication, a luxury that we take advantage of everyday at work, be it through meetings (virtual and face-to-face) or using project management tools. 

Sometimes we even find a synthesis of the two in those tools that allow us to collaborate and communicate seamlessly. Finding the right tools to facilitate all types of communication is the key to leading a productive and efficient team. 

What this open communication looks like will differ according to your company’s needs, but it’s a good start to use tools that allow data to be accessed wherever and whenever your team may be working. Your team should be able to use a powerful tool to communicate and share data, much like meerkats rely on an open plain around their burrow for communication.

Look out for one another

Meerkats also possess an innate consideration for their companions in the way that they complete challenging tasks as one cohesive unit. 

For example, up to 50 meerkats will often travel together to find new habitable spaces with food and water sources, a journey that can take over 3 miles, over dusty, winding paths. 🧭

But whether it’s a journey of 3 or 300 hundred miles, it all begins with one step. The collective commitment that meerkats show when undergoing this journey is nothing short of remarkable. 

Meerkats maintain this same ethos when integrating pups into the group; each one is given a role, albeit small, so that they can begin getting experience right away. An adult meerkat is always present to act as a mentor and teach these pups essential hunting skills, so they are prepared for adulthood. 👨‍🏫

Using this method of teamwork means managing workloads, motivating colleagues, and being aware of your team’s goals. Leaders should ensure that junior colleagues have access to the appropriate information so that they can learn and, if required, take over more senior responsibilities. As mentors play a large role in helping professionals solve problems, ensuring inclusivity can prove beneficial for your teams in the long run.

Be fearless 

Building and protecting a mega burrow ✅

Completing mini marathons ✅

These two feats alone prove how fearless meerkats are, but their bravery doesn’t stop there. 

You might think that a creature of their stature may settle for smaller, more attainable food like ants or fruit. While these items do occupy a portion of their diet, they’ve also been known to go for lizards, birds and scorpions. Hunting as a team means that this is a philosophy that is shared throughout their cohort — fearlessness in food, strength in unity. 😋

Meerkats are also willing to fight off predators on their tails, including eagles, hyenas, and snakes. Like a well-trained marine battalion, meerkat groups have techniques for ensuring protection. This may include stirring up a protective dust cloud, or it may simply involve bundling together in order to make themselves appear larger than they actually are. 

While we wouldn’t recommend going after poisonous bugs or scorpions as part of your next team building exercise, the fearless manner in which meerkats live is something to admire. 

Think about how you can adopt new tools, methods of working, and embrace innovation. Just don’t confuse fearlessness with carelessness. All drastic changes should be grounded in planning and research, to ensure that your ambition pays off.

Be more meerkat

Hopefully we’ve shown you just how impressive team players meerkats can be. Both communicative and courageous, attentive and ambitious, meerkats possess a unique set of skills that make them great role models for teams. 

So next time your team is struggling, think; how can your team be more meerkat? 🤔

How can you maintain both active visual and verbal communications? Harbour an inclusive working environment? Be fearless and welcome new challenges? 

If nothing else, the answer to these questions should prompt active discussions between colleagues and motivate everyone to work together more effectively. 

Gridfox is a powerful no-code tool that enables these meerkat methods and much more! With no prior coding experience, you can build and customise a tool that is suited to your business needs. 

Rest assured that teams will be on the same page (or in the same burrow) with cloud-based data storage. 

With templates and an intuitive interface, you’re given the best chance to quickly build your tool and integrate those new starters into the project with ease. 

Innovation goes hand-in-hand with fearlessness and, with Gridfox, you can be confident that setting up a new project will be rewarded with the powerful functionality your team requires to succeed.

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