1.0 Objective: At the end of the session, the trainee should be able to state the characteristics of a good team, distinguish the various types of teams and list the guidelines to build a good team.
2.0 The Basic Of “Teams”
2.1 A team is a living, constantly changing and a dynamic force in which a number of people come together to work. The members of the team, discuss their objectives, assess ideas, make decisions and work towards their targets together. Teams out perform individuals acting alone, especially so when the performance requires multiple skills, judgments and experience. All the successful teams are characterized by the same fundamental features : strong and effective leadership, the establishment of precise objectives, taking informed decisions, the ability to act quickly so as to carry forward these decisions, communicating freely, developing the necessary skills and techniques to fulfill the assigned tasks.
2.2 The best way to understand teams is to look at their internal behavior. Their own stories reveal their accomplishments, skills, emotions, commitment and logical presentation. It is, however, the result of pursuing a demanding performance challenge.
2.3 The team is a basic unit of performance for most organisations. Successful team experiences are memorable because of both-what is accomplished and what each member learns in the process. Teams need to be flexible and responsive to changing events and demands, i.e. the demand of merging individual accountability with mutual accountability.
2.4 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.
2.5 Successful teams can be formed by 2 to 22 or even more people, but more important than size is the shape, the pattern and the spirit of the team is due to which the members settle to perform their given tasks. The tasks that are to be performed by teams are basically categorized into three types.
2.6 Repetitive tasks: which require the members to assume a different fixed roles. These tasks are usually familiar work performance and can be fulfilled independently.
2.7 Projects: which require creative input from members, though working in different roles. The major attribute is to work in unison and generate new products.
2.8 Partners: that demands constant and creative input and establishment of new work milestones. This style of working is more popular with senior levels of management.
1. Teams are created when the performance demanded is challenging. The hunger for performance is the basic motivator.
2. A disciplined outlook is necessary. Basics include size, purpose, goals, skills, approach and accountability for successful application.
3. Organisations are divided into teams and sub–teams, the hierarchy of which ultimately leads to goal achievement.
4. Teams at the top are the most difficult and complex in nature.
5. There is a preference for group accountability over individual accountability by the people in the organisation.
6. Companies with strong performance standards seem to spawn more “real teams” than companies that promote teams per se.
7. Hierarchy and teams go together almost as well as teams and performance.
8. Integration of performance and learning are inseparable part of team work.
9. Organisational leaders can foster team performance best by building a strong performance ethic rather than by establishing a team – promoting environment alone.
10. Biases do exist in teams.
4.0 BECOMING THE “REAL TEAM”
The performance of a team depends upon the type of binding that exists between the group members. A working group relies primarily on the individual contributions of its members for group performance. A team striving for a magnified impact that is incremental to what its members could achieve in their individual roles, forms gradually over a period of time resulting into cohesiveness.
4.1 Working groups
In such groups there are no significant incremental performance needs that would germinate the opportunity of turning this groups into a productive and efficient team. In such groups, the members interact only to share information, discuss practices and to make decisions to help each individual perform effectively in his or her area of responsibility. It is just a small group that works together for getting the work done.
In this type of group, though there exists a significant incremental performance needs and opportunity, there is no focus on collective performance. There is no interest in a common purpose or set of performance goals, though they work in a group. Pseudo-teams are the weakest of all groups in terms of performance impact. Their contribution towards the company performance is less because the individual interest of each member detracts from each other. The sum of the whole is less than the potential of the individual parts.
4.3 Potential teams
In such types of groups there is a considerable incremental performance need and the members really try to improve their performance impact. However, there is more need of clarity of purpose, goals and working approach. It has not yet established collective accountability. Here the team approach starts making sense and performance impact becomes high. The most worthwhile performance gain comes in between the potential teams and real teams. Any movement pursued in this direction is worth trying.
4.4 Real teams
These are the teams with small number of people having complementary skills, who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals and work approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Real teams are basic unit of performance.
4.5 High – performance team
This group meets all the conditions of real teams and also has members deeply committed to one another’s personal growth and success. This commitment is the soul of the group. They out – perform all other like teams. It is a powerful possibility and an excellent model for all “Real” and “Potential” teams.
Unlike teams, working groups rely on the sum of “individual bests” for their performance. Pseudo-teams do not take any risks and hence, remain where they are, potential teams take the risk to climb the curve and face obstacles and they turn into ‘Real teams’ and ‘High performing teams’.
5.0 Building Team Performance
As such there is no guaranteed recipe for building team performance. Yet there are a variety of common approaches that can help potential teams take the necessary risk to grow in performance. To build up high performance, the following of certain guidelines comes in handy.
5.1 Establishing urgency and a sense of direction
All team members need to believe that the team has urgent and worthwhile purposes. Besides, performance expectations from team members also should be clear. The members of the team need to realize that the task they are performing is important, that they are a part of decisive accomplishment. The direction to be adopted for achievement should be clear.
5.2 The selection of the members should be on the basis of skills and not personality.
Teams need complementary skills to perform the job. For effective performance, a mix of three different categories is helpful.
-> Technical and functional skills.
-> Problem solving skills
-> Interpersonal skills
A right set of people is needed at the right place and on the right time. Selection of team members is not only an issue for task forces and special project teams, but also ongoing groups, too often there is a presumption that existing job status automatically warrants team membership. Hence, while selection, the job profile of the individual is not the only basis but the necessary skill for job performance.
5.3 More attention needs to be paid to first meetings and actions.
Initial impression goes a long way. When the potential teams gather around for the first time, members alertly monitor the signals given by others to confirm, suspend or dispel going-in assumptions and concerns. First meetings usually are not the first time the people in them have ever met as a group. They are not necessarily limited to a single event. Moreover, for on going groups, first meetings usually are not the first time the people in them have ever met as a group. But too many potential teams fail to understand the importance of “first meetings” and instead allow existing habits and operating styles to dominate, including an overemphasis on individual instead of mutual accountability.
5.4 The rules regarding the clarity of behavior sets a code of conduct.
All real teams develop rules of conduct to help them achieve their purpose and performance goals. Rules are necessary for focus, openness, commitment and trust. The most critical rules may pertain to attendance, confidentiality, contributions, constructive confrontation and end-product orientation.
5.5 Few immediate performance-oriented tasks and goals bring team spirit.
Most teams prepare immediate small tasks and performance oriented events that bring them together. Potential teams can set such events in motion by immediately establishing a few challenging yet achievable goals that can be reached early on. Significantly, the events generated by such stretch goals do not have to be successes. The focus is on achieving a spirit of being together.