Team building: do the hard stuff
"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships"
Miachel Gordan


By

Roopashree Ramakrishna
Faculty
Vasavi Vidya Nikethan Institute of Management, Technology & Research
Bangalore
 


In any industry, one can expect to work as art of a group or team. In this "team" we are expected to share resources and collaborate our results to produce the finished product. This process requires good communication skills or "people skills". The success of a company depends on the people who work there. The staff must work and collaborate as a team with a focus on mission statements. Any conflict within the staff can lead to potential quarrels and disunity, hampering the success of the company.

Teams in today's work place:

A team is defined as a collection of people who rely on group collaboration such that each of its member's experiences an optimum of success level reaching of both personal and team based goals. Suppose one was to take a look at a typical business operation –a restaurant, golf course, homebuilder, oil patch or software firm. We will note that this business operation (assuming it is not a home based business) consists of staff members who work together to provide a service. Each member of the staff strives towards meeting personal and company goals. In teamwork, everybody makes their own contributions and performs their tasks. The staff members also interact and communicate with each other. Therefore, the concept of team goes beyond professional sports. They exist everywhere in the society. At work there may be different work groups. Each group is a team. Even the family is considered to be the team. The team work run through the family in the same way as at work.

However, success in any team environment is a challenge. Because individuals have different behavior and thinking styles, this leads to conflict. Poor handling of conflicts leads to disunity, quarrels, jealousy and reduced morale. The process of team building investigates the personal characteristics of team members. The result is the recommendation of changes in the company's process and team interaction such that the team can perform together.

Six Cs for team building:

Executives, managers and organization staff members universally explore ways to improve business results and profitability. Many view team based, horizontal, and organization structures as the best design for involving all employees in creating business success. No matter what you call your team based improvement effort: continuous improvement, total quality, lean manufacturing or self directed work teams, you are striving to improve results for customers. Few organizations, however, are totally pleased with the results their team improvement efforts produce. If your team improvement efforts are not living up to your expectations, this self-diagnosing checklist may tell you why. Successful team building, that creates effective, focused work teams, requires attention to each of the following.

* Clear expectations:

Has executive leadership clearly communicated its expectations for the team performance and expected outcomes? Do team members understand why the team was created? Is the organization demonstrating constancy of supporting the team with resources of people, time and money?

* Context:

Do the members understand why they are participating on the team? Do they understand how the strategy of using teams will help the organization to attain its business goals?

* Commitment:

Do the team members want to participate on the team? Do team members feel the team mission is important? Are member's committed to accomplishing the team mission and expected outcomes? Do the team members perceive their service as valuable to the organization and to their own careers?

* Competence:

Does the team feel that it has the appropriate people participating? Does the team feel that its members have the knowledge, skill and capability to address the issues for which team was formed? If not, does the team have the access to the help it needs?

* Character:

Has the team taken its assigned area of responsibilities and designed its mission of its work and the process the team followed to accomplish their task? Does the leadership team or other coordinating group support what the team has designed?

* Control

Does the team have enough freedom and empowerment to feel the ownership necessary to accomplish its charter? At the same time, do team members clearly understand their boundaries? How far may members go in pursuit of solutions? Has the organization defined the team's reporting relationship and accountability understood by all the members of the organization?

When team building is not viable:

The management often misunderstands the term team building. This knowledge is also frequently. If the manager sees team building as an experience that all staff members should be exposed to, it could cause a disruptive effect on the work unit and provide a negative impression of team. If any one of the following conditions apply to a work unit, then the team building approach may not be appropriate for process improvement:

* If work were done mainly on an individual basis with little interpersonal communication, a personal consultation would be more suitable.
* If the manager is unfamiliar with the nature of the team process, he may be disappointed with the results. Team building must be treated as a long-term process, not a quick fix.
* Team building should never be done just for the sake of it.
* A lack of group interest in honestly addressing problems makes team building a risk.
* Team building is not needed to confirm the need for previously suggested changes.
* Team building is not ineffective without adequate time and resources.

Team building must be treated as a long-term process and not a bandage solution to the existing problem. Software development teams, greens keeping crews, families, sports teams, and project teams are all specialization of team. They will experience their share of problems, conflicts, quarrels and disagreements. These problems may not be work related at all. The teams that treat problems as challenges instead of burdens will be the teams that collaborate efficiently in the end. Teambuilding- the equivalent of family counseling –will not guarantee a performing team. However its implementation will force a team membership to learn their strengths and weakness together.

References:

*
Philips S.L and Elledge R.L: the team building source book.
* Dyer W.G: Team building issues and alternatives.
* Mumma, Frederick's: what makes your tick?
 


Roopashree Ramakrishna
Faculty
Vasavi Vidya Nikethan Institute of Management, Technology & Research
Bangalore
 

Source: E-mail April 10, 2006

    

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