Teams are a part of everyone’s life. You’re a member of a family team, an extension staff team, and church, school, and community teams. As a result, there is a need for teamwork; organizations are confronted with increasingly complex problems with many dimensions. For example, the energy problem has implications for extension programming in agriculture, family living, community development and youth development programs for both rural and urban people. (Dyer, 1997 p. 139) So it’s appropriate that people try to understand how to function effectively as team members.
2. WHAT CONSTITUTES TEAM WORK?
2.1 Teamwork …
Merriam Webster dictionary (2005) describes teamwork as work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole. Nevertheless greater interpersonal skills are necessary if teams work together effectively at more complex levels. (Belbin, 1981)
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2.2 Characteristics needed for team work
Douglas McGregor’s (cited in Heil, 2000) list of the unique characteristics of an effective management team include
1)Understanding, mutual agreement, and identification with respect to the primary task
5)Management of human differences leading to group synergy
6)Selective use of the team
7)Appropriate member skills 8) Leadership: Managing and integrating the other 7 characteristics
A team is only as strong as the individual members. Stronger, more productive teams are comprised of individuals who know how teams work, how to make them work better and how they can best contribute. If individuals don’t have the proper skills to be an effective team member then productivity of the team is compromised. (Katzenbach, 1998)
2.3 Team Building
It’s important to realize that the development of effective working relationships among staff is a gradual process that requires considerable time and skill, this is not meant to discourage team members, but to help them realize that teams aren’t created overnight (Francis, 1979 p.261) a certain amount of frustration and conflict are normal. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (Myers, 1962) is a self-report instrument that establishes individual preferences based on the theory of C.S. Jung, (Hyde, 1992) a well-known Swiss psychiatrist.
The idea behind the MBTI is that human behaviour is actually logical and orderly, and this assessment tool establishes a framework for individual differences between people. Because it is objective and non-judgmental, the instrument verifies that each individual has a preferred path to excellence and that all preferences are equally valuable.
Team development is often viewed as a series of stages, described below. Although all the attributes and skills needed for an ideal working relationship (as listed in the preceding section) are important at every stage, some become more crucial as the team develops and staff members increase their level of involvement (Dyer, 1997).
At a minimum, it’s important for individual staff members to realize the benefits of teamwork and to have a commitment toward working together. Without such elements, further team development will be less likely to occur. Conflict, a natural part of the development process, will overpower or dominate the situation, preventing the team from ever reaching its full potential. (Belbin, 1993)
2.4 How groups develop
From Tuckman’s forming-storming-norming-performing-adjourning model (1965 cited Bloisi, Cook, Hunsaker 2003) we understand that as the team develops maturity and ability, relationships establish, and the leader changes leadership style. Beginning with a directing style, moving through coaching, then participating, finishing delegating and almost detached.
With a positive attitude toward team efforts, and with increased opportunity and time to practice teamwork skills, staff members can develop as an effective working team, and consequently have greater impact in facing problems. Tuckman’s Model
(Source: Bruce Tuckman original forming-storming-norming-performing concept, Alan Chapman review and code 1995-2005)
2.5 Team Roles
Belbin (1981) found that for a group to be effective there are eight necessary roles which ideally would be spread evenly among the team. These were known as the coordinator, the shaper, the plant, the monitor-evaluator, the resource-investigator, the implementer, the team worker, and the finisher. (Cited in Bloisi et al, 2003 p. 394) Later on Belbin acknowledged a ninth person who joins on a volunteer basis, a specialist.
These dimensions of involvement should be considered a part of our definition for teamwork. Participants in an effective team care about the group’s well-being. They skillfully combine appropriate individual talents with a positive team spirit to achieve results.
Regardless of whether the program effort is that of an individual, several individuals or the entire organization, a climate of teamwork can exist. (Dyer, 1977) Viewing teamwork in this way encourages a broader understanding of the concept. It not only suggests that there are alternative working relationships for individuals within the organizations, but that regardless of the approach
3. THE VALUE OF AN ADEQUATELY MANAGED AND LEAD TEAM IN THE WORKPLACE
Team-work is one of the effective strategies that have been used to maximize competitive advantage through people, together with other strategies such as employment security, selective hiring, pay-for-performance systems, etc. This section explores the values and effects of well, and not so well, managed and lead teams consecutively.
3.1 Attributes of successful teams
Various authors (Blanchard et al. 1996; LaFasto, 2002) identified the categories of attributes of successful teams as falling under individual and relationship issues such as commitment to the team-relationship, improvement of safety, narrowing the discussion, neutralization of defensiveness, explanation of each perspective, changing of one’s behaviour (compromise) and tracking it, well-defined purpose and values, team empowerment, relationships and communication, flexibility, optimal productivity, recognition and appreciation and morale.
Performance-relevant team processes include not only task-related elements, such as cooperation and integration, but also social elements such as enthusiasm, drive, and commitment (Hoegel, 2005). Hoegl and Gemuenden (2001) demonstrated that the quality of teamwork could comprehensively be assessed by considering six dimensions of the collaborative work process: communication, coordination, the balance of member contributions, mutual support, effort, and cohesion. The six team-work quality dimensions embrace elements of both task-related and social interaction within teams (Cummings, 1978).
3.2 Teams’ competitive vs. co-operative nature
In teams, it must be noted that individual goals can lead to competitive rather than co-operative behaviors from group members, which is often the case in the managerial ranks. Moreover, individuals with both group and individual goals tend to outperform those with only individual goals (Longenecker and Neubert, 2000). Henry and Stevens (1999) successfully showed that teams containing one leader perform better than teams with no leader or multiple leaders.
Herman (1994) argues that individualism is the key to teamwork. He believes that creative and individuals not groups create radical new directions. Work done by Maier (1967) shows that teams can achieve more knowledge and information. People with different experiences can also generate more options and creative alternatives.
Neubert (1998) has demonstrated that performance resulting from using both feedback and goals far exceeds the performance benefits of using goals alone. Goals direct behavior, but the addition of performance feedback informs team members as to their progress and deficiencies e.g. the use of 3600 feedback.
3.3 Factors affecting team performance
Team size also effects team performance, on Daglow’s law of team Dynamics”Small teams are informed. Big teams infer” smaller teams demonstrated to have better team-work (Ziller, 1957 p.165-173; Steiner, 1966 p.273-283).
Team size is an important determinant of the social loafing phenomenon, whereby individuals decrease their effort as the number of people in the group increases. Team size must be determined with respect to both staffing requirements, derived from the size of the project task, and teamwork requirements, derived from task complexity and uncertainty (Hoegl et al., 2003 p.281-302).
The most frequently cited factors that prevent group members from cooperating with each other are personality conflicts and egos; conflicting goals; reward systems based on individual performance; lack of unifying vision; and ineffective leadership from above.
Hackman (1987 p. 315-347) identifies the top ten effects of inadequately managed and lead teams to be: communication breakdowns, decreased performance and productivity, wasted resources and effort, ill-will/bad feelings/decrease in morale, loss of coordination/planning breakdowns, failing to fix problems and improve processes, loss of focus on customer and profits, increased workplace conflict/political activity, increased job-related stress/workplace tension and sets a poor example for the workforce.
3.4 Value of a team managed effectively
Adequately managed and lead teams to improve coordination and cooperation, empower people, harness creativity and innovation, and cut overhead costs. The decision-making process also results in a greater understanding of decisions made, resulting in acceptance of the decision and easier implementation. The participative process seems to be a positive one if all team members understand their role. By establishing priorities, concentrating financial resources, and combining knowledge and expertise. Such efforts can serve to 1) lighten your workload,
2) reduce duplication of efforts, and 3) produce a result greater than all of your separate efforts
4. THE ROLE OF THE MANAGER IN GETTING A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS TOGETHER TO WORK AS A TEAM IN THE WORKPLACE
In the work place a group of people must be formed into a team by a manager using his position of authority to be successful. However (Cowings, ca.2002) organizational environments often group individual members together, which might hinder team cohesion specifically because of the lack of interest and belonging.
4.1 Groups and Teams, are they the same?
Too often we think of a team as a group ME Shaw defined a group (1981 cited Bloisi, Cook, Hunsaker 2003) as two or more people who meet regularly and influence one another over a period of time, perceive themselves as a distinct entity distinguishable from others, share common values and strive for common objectives., but an effective, well-functioning team is much more than this, JR Katzenback and DK Smith (1983 cited Bloisi, Cook, and Hunsaker 2003)described it as a small number of people with complementary skills, who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.
Participants in an effective team care about the group’s well-being. They skillfully combine appropriate individual talents with a positive team spirit to achieve results.
4.2 The manager’s responsibilities
The manager must ensure that the team is made up of people with complementary skills and who are committed to a common purpose. According to Owen (2004:246), the most important aspect that differentiates a team from a group is that a team has a clearly defined objective and working together they create synergy – they achieve more than individuals working alone.
British psychologist Dr. Meredith Belbin worked to achieve a system that illustrates individual behaviour i.e. the manager and his influence on team successes. These behavioural patterns consist of nine roles that cover the types of individual behaviour at work in a team. (Bloisi et al, 2003:396)
Managers’ role in an organization is to Plan, Lead, Organize and Control. These tasks are also relevant when a manager brings a group together to form a team.
One of a manager’s many responsibilities is team development; the first step in developing teams is by developing management relationships, establishing explicit ground rules for operations, facilitating commitment to common goals, and constructing skills related to meeting management, conflict resolution, consensus decision-making, and team-based problem solving (Longenecker and Neubert, 2000).
4.3 Challenges facing the manager
One of the biggest challenges for a manager is to make all members feel part of the team. Non-participants are people who consistently stare out a window, and respond to questions, and say “whatever”. Members might not participate for a number of reasons, perhaps being shut up while trying to bring a point across, unqualified, being shy or even having personal issues. (Lumsden et al, 2000).
Lumsden continued saying managers must recognize the importance of each person’s contribution and resolve equilibrium to gain full potential, participation and belonging. Managers can achieve this by focusing on empathy, incentive meetings, reaching out in discussion or inviting conversation, assigning specific valued tasks to the member, connecting with the person outside work or resolving internal team member problems.
4.4 Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum Exhibit – 2
(Source: Tannenbaum, R., & Schmidt, W. H. (1973, May/June). How to choose a leadership pattern. Harvard Business Review.)
The relationship between the level of freedom that a manager chooses to give to a team, and the level of authority used by the manager can be explained by the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum (1973) illustrated in exhibit -2.
The model states that as the team’s freedom is increased, so the manager’s authority decreases. This is a positive way for both teams and managers to develop trust. While the Tannenbaum and Schmidt model concerns delegated freedom to a group, the principle of being able to apply different levels of delegated freedom closely relates to the levels of delegation.
4.5 How can a manager improve team performance?
Flanagan et al. wrote that for a manager cum leader, the following key points should be considered to make a team more effective. These principles are complementary to the work done by Belbins and Tuckman (Flanagan and Finger, 1999 p.302). An effective team leader will define clear and achievable goals, clarify member roles, have clear communication, make decisions on procedural basis, set an encouraging working environment and understand team dynamics.
5. MBA Syndicate Groups doing Teamwork.
The TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) acronym is a very powerful one because when team members work together for the good of all, everyone achieves more. Under a more specific classification MBA syndicate groups are formal learning groups established to complete a specific task, write a report, carry out a project, or prepare a position paper. Groups may complete their work in a single class session or over several weeks. Typically, students work together until the task is finished, and their project is graded. Are MBA Syndicates doing teamwork? The answer is obviously yes, nevertheless keep in mind that the development of an effective team requires a positive attitude and commitment toward teamwork, coupled with an understanding of what teamwork involves.
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