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High Performance Teams

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How a Group Can Become a High Performance Team

Teams are crucial to making companies more flexible, quality-conscious, and competitive. Organizations need to ensure that they are using an organizational structure that matches today's demanding business environment. But what is a team and what is a team's function and how does a team become a high functioning team? This paper will answer those questions along with examining the impact of cultural diversity on a group. Also the paper will describe how cultural diversity contributes or detract from a high-performance team.

Many organizations have working groups that call themselves teams. A team is a group of people coming together to collaborate (Clark). A team is a group of people with a high degree of interdependence geared towards the achievement of a common goal or completion of a task. But their work is produced by a combination of individual contributions. Teams produce work that is based on collective effort. Team members are deeply committed to each other's personal growth and success. Team members not just cooperate in all facets of their tasks and goals; they share in what are customarily thought of as management functions, such as planning, organizing, setting performance goals, assessing the team's performance, developing their own strategies to manage change, and securing their own resources (Clark). A team outperforms a group and outperforms all reasonable expectations given to its individual members (Clark).

Teams go through developmental stages. The most commonly used framework is Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing, that was developed in the mid-1960s by Bruce W. Tuckman. Each stage of team development has its own identifiable feelings and behaviors; understanding why things are happening in particular ways on your team can be a significant part of the self-evaluation process. Having a method to recognize and understand causes for changes in the team behaviors can assist the team increase its process and its productivity (Stein). The Four Stages and functions are as followed (Stein):

Stage 1: Forming

Members often have high positive expectations for the team experience. At the same time, they may also feel some anxiety, questioning how they will fit in to the team and if their performance will measure up. Behaviors observed during the Forming stage may consist of lots of questions from team members, reflecting both their excitement and the uncertainty or anxiety they might be feeling about their place on the team. The primary work for the team during the Forming stage is to generate a team with lucid structure, goals, direction and roles so that members begin to build trust. A good orientation/kick-off process can help to ground the members in terms of the team's mission and goals, and can establish team expectations about both the team's product and, more importantly, the team's process. During the Forming stage, much of the team's energy is focused on defining the team so task accomplishment may be relatively low (Stein).

Stage 2: Storming

During the Storming stage, members are attempting to see how the team will react to differences and how it will deal with conflict. Team members may argue or become critical of the team's original mission or goals. Team may call for the team to refocus on its goals, and possibly breaking larger goals down into smaller, achievable steps. The team may need to develop both task-related skills and group process and conflict management skills (Stein).

Stage 3: Norming

During the Norming stage of a team, members start to feel part of a team and can take pleasure from the increased group cohesion. Members transfer their energy to the team's goals and show an increase in productivity, in both individual and collective work. The team may find that this is an appropriate time for an evaluation of team processes and productivity (Stein).

Stage 4: Performing

During the Performing stage members feel attached to the team as something "greater than the sum of its parts" and feel satisfaction in the team's effectiveness. Members feel secure in their individual abilities and those of their teammates. Roles on the team may have become more flexible, with members taking on a variety of roles and responsibilities as needed. Differences among members are appreciated and used to enhance the team's performance. The team makes significant progress towards its goals. Dedication to the team's mission is elevated and the competence of team members is also elevated. Team members should continue to expand their knowledge and skills, including working to continuously improving team development. Teams may successfully remain in the Performing stage indefinitely (Stein).

Sometime a team comes to an end when their work is completed or when the organization's needs change. So there can be an added stage that was not a part in Tuckman's original model, but it is important for any team to pay attention to the end or termination process (Stein).

Stage 5: Termination/Ending




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