“Teamwork” is defined as a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. Team members are mutually responsible for reaching the goal toward which they are working. Team building is a process meant to improve the performance of the team and involves activities designed to foster communication and encourage cooperation.
Additionally, the objective is to avoid potential disputes and problems and to keep the morale of team members high.
Many different industries and organizations use teams to accomplish goals, because people working together can often achieve more than they could individually. How do you know if you need a team to complete a project? Ask yourself the following questions: Can I achieve this goal by myself? Do I have the resources and time to under-take this project? Can other people or a team of other people be more effective than I would be in achieving this goal? If your answers favor the involvement of others, it’s time to consider forming a team.
In an increasingly complex environment, organizations are using a team approach to bring a diverse set of skills and perspectives into play. An effective use of teams often draws upon a creative approach of bringing together specialists who combine their efforts and develop intrateam synergies to meet the challenges of their often complex organizational environment.
An example of an industry that often uses teamwork is the construction industry. A successful construction project cannot take place without the formation of teams. A design team will be formed at the beginning of the project and is made up of architects, engineers, and project consultants. The design team alone, however, will not be able to complete the project. They will also need to form a team with the owner of the project and the contractor.
Throughout different organizations there are different types of teams that are used to accomplish goals. Two of the most common team varieties are problem-solving and cross-functional teams.
These teams are formed for a temporary period until a problem is solved, and then they disband. Team members often consist of one level of management. Let’s say XYZ Corporation has lost 10 percent of its North American market share to MNO Widgets. XYZ wants to get this back by increasing sales across North America. All of XYZ’s regional salespeople will be called in to form a team to regain that mar-ket share. Although their regional focus will remain, they will have to work together to solve the problem of regaining that market share, and when they achieve that goal, they will individually work on maintaining their hold in their market.
This type of team is made up of members from different areas of the business and often from a common managerial level.
If a shampoo company wants to bring a new conditioner to market, a team will be formed and its members will consist of managers from different departments such as brand management, product development, market research, and finance. It is also likely that there will be involvement by marketing, communications, and design when the product comes closer to being launched.
STAGES OF TEAM DEVELOPMENT
Team development has been broken into four stages: form, storm, norm, and perform.
Forming the Team
The first stage involves assembling the team and defining the goals, which should provide focus and be attainable. It is important that the team leadership understands the strengths of each of the team members in order to assemble a cohesive team. Often in the forming stage, team members will be extremely polite to one another; they will be feeling each other out.
An example of a goal that the team may set would be the project schedule. For a construction team, for example, there are many stages of the project that should be completed in a certain time frame to en-sure that the project is completed on time for the owner. The design team designates the appropriate amount of time for the construction phase in which the builder will make a profit. It is important to agree upon and set this schedule from the beginning.
Storming Stage of Team Development
The second phase involves coordinating efforts and solving problems. If the teamwork starts to slip because of a difficult problem, it is necessary for the team members to get the project back on track. Team members should be conscious of the team’s health and whether the team is taking steps in the right direction to reach the goals. It may be necessary to think creatively about approaches to solving a problem.
Communication is extremely important to effective team performance in the storming stage. Effective teams communicate clearly and openly about problems. Ineffective communication can cause unnecessary tension and stress to team members. It is important that communication be relevant and responsive. Relevant communication is task-oriented and focused. Responsive communication involves the willingness of team members to gather information, to actively listen, and to build on the ideas and views of other team members.
Establishing Team Norms
The project norms are an informal standard of conduct that guides the behavior of team members. This stage involves defining team roles, rights, and responsibilities. It is important to establish these norms at the beginning of the team-building process in order to avoid problems along the way. In addition to allocating responsibilities, it may also be necessary to allocate the risk that is to be undertaken by each team member. Each member of the team should have a sense of ownership of the project.
Allocating responsibility also means establishing a team leader. Team leadership should not be a top-down effort, but should be more of a coaching role. The team leader must act as a cheerleader, encouraging the team members to work together, providing ideas, and serving as a role model.
There is often a period after the team has been formed when a conflict of personalities or ideas will arise. Team members begin to show their own styles; they are no longer worried about being polite. At this stage, there will be pessimism on the part of team members in relation to the project and there may also be confusion.
Team Performance Stage
By this stage, the team is working together effectively, problems have been smoothed out, and achievements begin to become evident. A great deal of work will be accomplished at this stage. The team will be able to tackle new tasks easily and confidently. They will be comfort-able using creative means. It is essential at this point to evaluate and report on progress that has been made.
Project Completion and Team Disbanding Stage
The last phase of the project is completion. Often at this time the team will evaluate the results, debrief, and take time to learn and improve its processes for use in future team-based projects.