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Building Successful Teams

Essay by 24  •  April 5, 2011  •  1,782 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,024 Views

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What is a Team?

One definition of a team is ÐŽ§A small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, common performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually responsibleЎЁ (Moorhead & Griffin, 2001, p.604). Another definition is ÐŽ§ÐŽKgroup of two or more entities linked by a common bond to foster the achievement of a common goalÐŽKЎЁ (Chillis, 1999). Whichever definition is used it is understood that commonality is the guiding force for a successful team. With their purpose and goals defined and accepted the team becomes interdependent; they coordinate their various skills and abilities to direct themselves toward the desired result.

Characteristics of a Successful Team

There are common characteristics that make an effective team successful. These characteristics are developed by the individual team members and by the group itself. As stated above, the first and probably the most important, is the understanding of the purpose, mission, or main objective of the team. Each team member must ensure that communication is direct, open, and straightforward. There must be a strong team leader who is responsible for building team memberÐŽ¦s understanding, and assuring commitment to their common purpose. Without effective team leadership, members often pursue independent and diverse interests (Cooke, 1999).

The team should have adequate resources that are available to permit the team to perform its function, including expertise, facilities, materials, and budgets. Furthermore, synergy should exist so the team performs in a way that is greater than the sum of its parts. There should also be regular assessments that measure the performance of the team during the implementation of their purpose, mission, or main objective.

Team Development Stages

A common rational why a team has been formed is to complete a specific task or meet a specific goal. When this is the case, there is a set of particular stages in team development. The team will have different needs depending on the different stages of the implementation. It is the leaderÐŽ¦s task to provide the proper training, coaching, and environment that promotes progress through these stages (Strategos, Inc., 2005). There are four stages of team development:

„X Forming - The first stage of team development. During the forming stage, team members work out group norms and try to define the boundaries of their tasks. It is in this stage that team members begin to ask questions; begin to conduct search.

„X Storming - The second stage of team development. In the storming stage, competition and strained relationships among team members will start to develop. Conflict will occur. This stage deals with issues of power, leadership, and decision making. Consequently, it is the most crucial stage the team must work through.

„X Norming - By the third stage, conflict and deadlock will recede. Norming represents a time of change in which interdependence develops. Team members become more agreeable and willing to express their opinions and ideas constructively in this stage. Communication between team members is more focused, and members start to confront issues and provide essential feedback.

„X Performing - The final stage of team development is performing. Team members begin to develop solutions and make definitive progress. By collaborating, members use their constructive energy towards the common goals and agreed-upon strategies.

Why Teams Are Important

There are times when a formation of a team is essential, and there are times when teams are inadequate. For the most part, they are important when problems and resolutions involve very complex and important situations. Teams are clearly more appropriate when there is not an immediate time pressure and more knowledge and skill can be utilized to solve the problem. The information flow is also more effective between team members, which allow them to be more aware of the full breadth of the problem. Meetings become goal-oriented and productive; better decisions are concluded. As the team becomes more cohesive, they learn from each other, and they are able to identify problems sooner. Members set and accomplish tougher goals, and productivity is achieved by eliminating duplication of efforts. Ultimately, the overall morale of the team improves.

Self-Directed Work Teams

Self-directed teams are most useful when solving problems that require people with different skills to work together (Guffey, 2003). The Federal Aviation Administration (n.d.) concludes

High performance self-directed teams are the ÐŽ§gold standard.ЎЁ They enable organizational leveling to remove layers of management, flatten the organization, and increase productivity. Members of such teams report higher job satisfaction, increased motivation, and greater work enjoyment. They experience empowerment on the job, more flexibility, and the opportunity to see the results of their efforts in improvements to their organization and in mission achievement.

In the article, Self Directed Work Teams: A Competitive Advantage, R. Williams stated that Business Week Magazine found that self-directed work teams are, on average, 30 to 50 percent more productive that their conventional counterparts (1995). In fact, successful self-directed work teams achieve greater productivity by possessing many of the same characteristics. Members will have clear objectives and the ability to work towards them. The team has independence by taking on the role of management through hiring, firing, and disciplining the members. They complete the tasks under little to no supervision. They will make their own decisions and do not require management approval. They will communicate on a regular basis by meeting often or exchanging messages to coordinate activities, avoid duplication, and make decisions. The team places great importance on improving their skill set through ongoing training (Guffey, 2003).

Companies are implementing self-directed work teams due to successful results. Management has seen improved quality, productivity and service. Organizations experience a reduction in operating costs and responded faster to technological change. They have fewer, simpler job classifications due the levels of management removed. Better response to employeeÐŽ¦s values appeared because they are now the ones making the decisions, which led to an increase in commitment to the organizations. These companies now have the ability to attract and retain the best people due to successful results (Williams, 1995).

3M has seen teams make improvements

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