Formulate a team building strategy that will maximize team effectiveness and functionality.
You must have heard the phrase “teamwork is about less me and more we.” This phrase is used very generously in most organizations and many team leaders can deliver speeches on team building. But what is a team? Why is a team important? Teams have their own wisdom and advantages. This module will address the importance of a team. You will explore the comprehensive definition of team and discuss the meaning of teaming. The perspectives of single leader discipline are different from those of real team discipline. This module will analyze these divergent perspectives and discuss the elements of a team—appropriate team size, complementary skills, purpose, goals, and development of focus and persistence in team members. You will address the advantages of mutual accountability that is developed when teams become deeply interconnected. Finally, you will see how teams impact us as individuals and how our individual growth benefits the organization. You will begin your course project in Module 2, by identifying and describing a team that you will evaluate throughout the course.
Elements of a Team
According to Katzenbach and Smith (1993), “a team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable” (p. 45). This definition of a team has the following important aspects associated with it:
Mutual accountability and performance goals
Focus and persistence
Size: It is important to know a true team is relatively small in number. A CEO of a major company with 7000 employees who refers to the entire company as a team, probably does not have a realistic grasp on the essence of team. He or she is probably unaware of the significance of connection among employees to be truly called a team.Complementary skills: A team may be extremely well intended and have respect for one another but unless they have complementary skills they’ll be of little help to one another. An outstanding physicist isn’t likely to be able to write much of a physics textbook if his or her partner in the process is an internationally acclaimed economist. They might find some interesting juxtaposition for their theory and knowledge but for their tasked goal they wouldn’t be seen as having complementary skills.Common purpose: A focus on commitment and common purpose is important. A team that lacks commitment and common purpose toward the specific goals really isn’t a team. Even total strangers who are flying on a plane are committed to a common purpose. Without commitment, cooperation toward success is not likely to be manifested.Mutual accountability and performance goals: Having a team which “holds itself mutually accountable” is also an extremely important aspect of the definition. Without holding themselves accountable for their actions, teams are not as likely to perform at the highest standard. An individual who only works hard enough to avoid correction from his or her boss or manager is not likely to perform as well as a deeply interconnected group, which holds each other accountable to a much higher standard of performance.ReferenceKatzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (1993).
Boston, MA: Harvard Business School. The wisdom of teams: Creating the high-performance organization.
Elements of a Team Continued
Definition: When you talk of team definition, it is important to consider team size. The text for this course (and many others) suggests teams should be relatively small. This text recommends a range between 2 and 25 people. If you have a larger team, it is likely the deeply interconnected personal relationships required for a highly committed team will not have time to manifest themselves.
Focus and persistence: Unless a team has a clear focus on where it is headed, it will not be successful. Having a clear focus, however, is more difficult than some teams would have us believe. To have a truly clear focus, a team must consider the perspectives of each team member and consider their perception of being successful in each endeavor.
Since learning styles of people are different, it is easy to lose sight of where the team is going. Teams may even lose clarity of vision and wonder what they are attempting to achieve. Teams in business often forget their ultimate focus or purpose. For example, there may be a mandate in the organization to adhere to corporate standards as it relates to workplace safety and security or efficiency. However, if the efficiency begins to irritate customers and drives them away, the teams will soon lose sight of the ultimate outcome, which would be to please the customer. Even though every team must consider a number of issues, it is very clear a team loses its focus when it adheres to corporate standards too rigidly at the cost of losing its customers. To truly embrace a new set of behaviors, individual team members have to get in the habit of recognizing change as it occurs and respond to it consistently. When a team pursues its goal with clear focus and persistence, it is most likely to succeed.
Impact of the Team
Teams have always had historically significant roles in tribes and organizations. However, teaming also has both individual and organizational impacts or ramifications, which should be considered when the leader approaches team formation.Impact at the organizational level: At an organizational level teams drive change. A small but committed group of people can come together and change the world. There are innumerable examples of small companies with motivated and interconnected individuals who have found a way through intellectual leveraging and creativity to topple otherwise larger and more formidable opponents. If a larger organization is lucky enough to have a number of extremely powerful and energized teams working together, they are likely to enjoy many benefits.Impact at the individual level: From a neurological standpoint, there is a greater degree of stimulation when you work in a team. This increased stimulation leads to deeper levels of learning. Therefore, an individual benefit of teaming is an increased level of learning. Teams also benefit individuals by helping them overcome each other’s flaws. Deeply interconnected teams do not allow an individual’s shortcomings to nullify the efforts of the entire group. Therefore, one person’s weakness may be another one’s strength. Team synergy and interconnectedness can easily overshadow the weaknesses in a workplace.Trust and reliance on one another’s abilities instill a sense of interdependence and faith that an individual’s weakness will not hurt him or her personally or mar the group’s efforts. It is also likely that, apart from simply enjoying the benefits of each other’s talents, an individual on a team will ultimately learn and grow from working with others.A team member may learn new skills to improve an area of weakness or moderate strength. When team members exhibiting diversity of age, gender, experience, ethnicity, religion, and political beliefs come together, each individual team member benefits from the collective team background. For example, a diverse team could potentially enjoy the benefits of youthful members and the energy they bring along. Team members could get knowledge of the latest training which the youthful members may have received in technology or a specialized program. Furthermore, the youthful contributors will benefit from the context and experience of their older teammates. They will also learn to see issues from a different cultural perspective. This mutual enrichment benefits each team member and the culmination of divergent view points and experiences improves the team’s performance.The tremendous impact of accountability in developing a sense of inclusion can lead to team member support, commitment, and cohesion. While teams are able to develop synergy, it is the impact of the understanding of accountability that allows them to unite as one. Becoming united and focused as one dynamic cohesive group can only be developed through understanding the impact of accountability. Only when each individual fully feels, that they can trust each other for being accountable for their component, can the team have its maximum impact on the accomplishment of its mission.DiversityDiversity can have an effect on the cohesiveness and overall accomplishments of team development and mission. As you consider the primary and secondary dimensions of diversity, a number of perceptions come into consideration. We normally think of diversity and team development from those basic primary dimensions of age, race, gender, ethnicity, etc. However, it is often the secondary dimensions that may influence how individuals interact, accept accountability, and are able to become a cohesive team. Secondary issues such as income, religion, education, work background, military experience, etc., may have more influence on perceptions, actions, and attitudes. Our values and beliefs can often be developed by secondary dimensions which could come into play when we discuss the impact of accountability or even the sense of relationship within a team. Due to religious background or income level or work history some individuals may not perceive themselves as having the same status within a team. Because of these dimensions, some may feel superior and some may feel inferior. It will be left to the team leader to try and navigate through these differences to homogenize the group into one cohesive unit.While understanding that the primary dimensions bring their own differences and obstacles in unit development, the leader must be aware that the secondary dimensions, that are not so apparent, may have an even greater impact on team development. These dimensions can have an effect on the cohesiveness, morale, and overall perception of team members which may in turn affect the efficiency and effectiveness of the team. Therefore, a leader must be prepared to possibly deal with those secondary dimensions, which are more subtle than those easily identifiable primary dimensions.
Module 1 Summary
Through this module’s online lectures and assigned reading, you learned about the importance, elements, and impact of teams. Leaders can use a number of strategies to improve the working of a team. In this module, you learned the meaning of a team and the elements necessary for a group of people to be actually given that title. You examined what happens when a group gets too big and the ability to be deeply interconnected is lost. You also learned how mutual accountability and being interconnected helps lead individual and organizational development.
Here are the key points you covered in this module:
Teams are very important in the evolution of human beings. Single leader discipline is different from real team discipline. Advocates of single leader unit discipline believe if each member works efficiently, the entire system will work harmoniously. They think their personal understanding of all individual components will be enough to hold the team together. Proponents of real team discipline look for mutual and individual accountability on the part of the team members.
A team must have some common elements to be actually called as one. The significant elements of an ideal team are size, complementary skills, common purpose, mutual accountability and performance goals, focus and persistence, and definition.
Teaming has both organizational and individual benefits. A well-organized team can drive massive changes at the organizational level. At an individual level, team members can easily overcome personal weaknesses and learn from one another to improve the team’s performance.