What are the benefits of working in teams?
- Teamwork increases productivity.
- Working in teams can capitalize on creativity and innovation.
- Teams allows faster response and flexibility to problems.
- Teamwork can facilitate positive change.
What are some of the problems in teams:
- Leaders can select too many members in their own image. As a result, teams become unbalanced with too many people overlapping in the same areas, while there are skill gaps in other areas.
- Leaders do not always understand their own strengths, abilities and preferences.
- Individuals in unbalanced teams feel their talents and abilities are not being used.
- Leaders feel they do not know how to motivate people. This is because they don’t know them and their individual needs.
- Team members feel that the team does not work smoothly. They believe individual work preferences conflict rather than complement each other.
Elements of a team
As a leader, there are a number of elements that you must help to create in a team. The elements that must be in a team are:
- A common goal to work towards. Although a team might have a number of goals, one of them must stand out. For example, a goal would be: “to produce 10% more widgets than last year without hiring additional personnel.” A supporting goal might be, “to provide 40 hours of yearly training for each member.” Everyone will know, agree upon and commit to accomplishing the team goal.
- Productive participation of all members.
- Open, honest and effective communication between members.
- A sense of belonging by being committed to an understood mandate and team identity.
- Appreciation for diversity as an asset. It is a vital ingredient that provides the synergistic effect of a team.
- A sense of creativity and risk taking. If no one individual fails, then risk taking becomes a lot easier.
- The ability to evaluate and self-correct.
- Openness to change and compatibility.
- A leader that participates in the process. Everyone must help lead to one degree or another.
Stages of a team’s life
A typical team goes through a number of stages during its existence.
|Forming||The group is anxious and feels dependent on a leader. The group is discovering how it is going to operate, what the “normal” behaviours will be e.g. how supportive, how critical, how serious and how humorous the group will be.|
|Storming||The atmosphere may be one of conflict with rebellion against the leader, conflict between sub-groups and resistance to control. There is likely to be resistance to the task, and even the sense that the task is impossible.|
|Norming||At this stage, members of the group feel closer together and the conflicts are settled, or at least forgotten. Members of the group will start to support each other. Increasingly the group feels the task is possible to achieve.|
|Performing||The group is carrying out the task for which it was formed. Roles within the group are flexible, with people willing to do the work normally done by others. Members feel safe enough to express differences of opinion.|
|Mourning||The group is disbanded; its members begin to feel nostalgic about its activities and achievements. Perhaps they go for a drink or a meal to celebrate.|