Teamwork In Organizations Essay, Research Paper
Teams have an important place in our professional and personal lives. Working in teams is probably an inevitable life experience, even for people who prefer to work alone. Teams are everywhere. There are always student teams, task forces, and neighborhood associations in addition to all of the workplace demands for working in a team. A team generates positive synergy through coordinated effort. The individual efforts result in a level of performance that is greater than the sum of those individual inputs (Developing teamwork, textbook). By simply examining the results of teams built for problem solving during the lecture of Prof. Ronald Burke, it is easy to find that teams are not always effective. But . Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; in deed, it s the only thing that ever has x (Marget Mead, The Wagon and the star). In most cases, teams lead organizations to engage in higher productivity. However, the effectiveness of a team is influenced by both internal and external factors. Internal factors include clear purpose, informality, participation, listening, open communication, shared leadership, consensus decisions, and clear role and task assignments.
The firstly internal factor related to team effectiveness is clear purpose. High performance teams have both a clear understanding of the goal to be achieved and a belief that the goal embodies a worthwhile or important result. .Help create jobs for our fellow New Brunswickers x and .doing things well or not at all x.(Creating effective teams, textbook). It was a clear and common purpose that empowered the employees of the New Brunswick government s Economic development department to develop strategies to attract telemarketing firms to New Brunswick. As team members, they defined and accepted the vision, mission, goal, or task of the team. They knew why a team existed and what it should be doing. They translated their common purpose into specific, measurable, and realistic performance goals. These specific goals facilitated clear communication and also helped teams maintained their focus on achieving results. Another example, Motorola China divided her sales division into many sales teams. By creating a clear sense of purpose which was to further expand her market share, she stimulated her employees to act as important roles in make teams higher performances. Simultaneously the team members were clear about their daily tasks and about agenda for essential meetings. In Motorola China, every meeting must have a detailed agenda, and members should be prepared with the information necessary to discuss all agenda items. As team members, they insisted that the team have a vision of the future, develop a mission, prepare goals and objectives, and then periodically revisit them. It was team members that created milestone charts and task assignments. The empowered team was able to make a difference in the attainment of individual, team and organizational goals, because it had clear direction and the knowledge, skills, information, and resources to do its job. In addition, it had power to make decisions with its scope and to influence decisions that are of a larger scope. Finally, team members experience positive outcomes when they perform effectively. However, a clear purpose will empower team members to achieve their objectives and allow teams to focus on their goals and evaluate progress toward the goals.
Shared leadership is an essential factor to influence the team effectiveness. Although a variety of titles are used to designate a position: manager, supervisor, director or simply the boss, all teams have a formal leader. A team will not be successful if the leader carries the sole responsibility for ensuring that the team reaches its goals. As a team leader, Texas instrument s Bryant said: . I m supposed to teach the teams everything I know and then let them make their own decisions x (What team leaders need to know, handout). Leadership of a team must be shared among team members. Everyone must feel and take responsibility for meeting the task and process needs of the team. Today Companies expect middle managers into star team leaders ready to coach, motivate, and empower. Anderson, who worked at Hewlet-Packard, one of the world s best managed corporations, said: .we took things away: no supervisors, no hierarchy, no titles on our business cards, no job descriptions, no plans, no step-by-step milestones of progress The idea was to create a sense of personal ownership. x( Secrets of HP s muddled team, handout). Shared leadership is one of most important factor to affect team effective. In Motorola China, her sales teams have matured. Team members know who is to do what, and ensure that all members contribute equally in sharing the workload. Additionally, the team members determine how schedule will be set, what skills need to be developed, how the group will resolve conflicts, and how the group will make and modify decisions. Although the team leader has certain administrative, and bureaucratic responsibilities, leadership functions shift from time to time among team members, depending upon the needs of the group and the skills of the members. On one hand, they help the team reach its goal, accomplish an immediate task, makes a decision, or solves a problem. On the other hand, they make the team focus on how to accomplish tasks. It is the interpersonal glue that helps maintain or exploit all our team s resources. The establishment of shared leadership ensures the team effectiveness.
Clear role and work assignments is a catalyst to stimulate the team effective. Every team member has a formal job with a series of functions often defined in a job description or specification. The concept of role goes beyond a listing of tasks to the expectations a specific team member has about his or her job and to the expectations that other team members have about that job. The work of the team will not be optimized if team members do not know what others expect of them or if there is a conflict in expectations. Awareness of the importance of roles is essential to the success of a team. Each member s relationship to the team must be defined in terms of the role to be assumed and the results the role is to produce. Eventually, any team effort boils down to the assumption of individual responsibilities and accountabilities. In short, each member of any successful team must understand at the outlet what he will be held accountable for and measured against in terms of performance. In Motorola China, team members take responsibility for work assignments critical to the achievement of the team s mission. They volunteer for jobs such as data collection, drafting reports, preparing presentations, and setting up meetings. Sometimes team members realize that one of their colleagues has an especially difficult or time-consuming assignment, they offer to pitch in and help. Due to clear role and work assignments, each member knows what he/she should focus on. Simultaneously, due to the connection of the common objective, he/she does utmost to help each other to achieve the team goal.
Trust is the avenue to open communication, one of key factors to affect team effectiveness. Trust not only allows people to stay problem-focused, it promotes a more efficient use of the time and energy devoted to the problem. Members must have confidence that they can reveal aspects of themselves and their work without fear of reprisals or embarrassment. The higher the level of trust, the more risks team members are willing to take. In the precious example of a team built during the lecture, as the team I was in formed temporarily, the level of trust among all members was relatively low. We were somewhat defensive and worried about embarrassment which maybe caused by different viewpoints. During the discussions of group decision making and problems solving, actually we did not open communication and give every member equal opportunity to reach agreement. Nobody tried to change this situation. As a result, individual accuracy took precedence over group accuracy. Due to the decisions based on some personal preferences, we failed to represent the team effectiveness. Later all of our team members realized that trust increases with a corresponding increase in openness, in confrontation of issues, and in the use of influence skills. As they are able to level with each other, the team adopts a problem-solving mode in which members are open to learning from each other. The leader s behavior is also crucial in building trust and opening communication. First, the leader must encourage discussion of problems and key issues and then model a response that is nonjudgmental. Second, the leader should support the concept of subgroups of team members working together. This decontrolling is crucial for group growth. The goal is shared leadership whereby all members take responsibility for ensuring the success of the team by performing leadership functions. This process relieves the formal leader of the burden of doing it all and empowers the team. However, mutual trust improves opening communication which, in turn, enhances the team effective.
The following factor related to team effectiveness is informality. In order to make a team effective, it is very important to create the atmosphere tends to be informal, comfortable, and relaxed. In such an environment, team members get a certain feeling when they are part of a solid team. They enjoy being around the people, they look forward to all meetings, they learn new things, they find themselves putting the team s assignments ahead of other work, and they feel a real sense of progress and accomplishment. A team with a positive climate bypasses the formal trappings such as rigid voting rules and raising hands before speaking. Rather, an obvious ease of interaction and communication relaxes team members and enhances their contribution. Members feel comfortable speaking with each other regardless of position, age, sex, or race. In the precious example of Motorola China, their sales team members employed humor and discussions of subjects other than work to relieve tension and smooth over awkward moments. They helped each other to get to know and feel comfortable with each other, they are willing to share the limelight with other members when the team is successful, and they provide the team with the necessary resources without waiting for a formal request. All of these activities help create an informal climate, which makes the team effective.
The ability of team members to listen to each other is one of most important factors distinguish effective from ineffective teams. It is a skill that serves as an underpinning for all the other determinants of effectiveness. While everyone agrees that listening skills are important, little is done to develop that capacity in team members. The principal listening skill is the ability to sit back, be attentive, and take in what is said while reserving judgment. The ability to listen and reserve judgment is critical if all ideas are to be given adequate consideration. This skill is especially important for team problem solving and decision making. Another important listening skill is the capacity for active listening. The techniques of active listening are strong tools for helping all team members find the right words to express their thoughts or feelings and to maximize their contributions to the team effort. In another sense, active listening helps team players develop self-understanding. In the process of examining their thoughts, the team members often come to a better understanding of the issue. In short, they are provided with a chance to alter their thoughts and feelings.
Not only can the above-mentioned internal factors impact the team effectiveness, other internal factors such as participation and consensus decisions can impact the team effectiveness. For example, in most team-based organizations, team membership based on the demands of the group s task will result in extensive member involvement in the group s discussions and activities. The objective of effective participation is to encourage all team members to participate. Effective teams provide all members with an opportunity to participate. Participation should be relevant to the goal or task of the team. Dealing with nonrelevant participation can be tricky. We want an informal, relaxed climate, but it must be combined with a focus on goals and tasks at hand. Interviews, surveys, or guided group discussions are simple but effective techniques for collecting data about participation and its relationship to team effectiveness. The use of the consensus method for making key decisions is a centerpiece of the effective team. A consensus requires unity but not unanimity and concurrence but not consistency. . a consensus is reached when all members can say they either agree with the decision or have had their . day in court x and were unable to convince the others of their viewpoint. In the final analysis, everyone agrees to support the outcome x (Building group cohesiveness, textbook). Consensus does not require unanimity since members may still disagree with the final result but are willing to work toward its success. The problem-solving approach to conflict resolution implies differences among team members, and consensus is the technique to reach agreement about the problem statement and recommended solution.
In conclusion, teams are not always effective because they are affected by both external and internal factors. But in most cases, teams lead to higher performance. It seems apparent that internal factors such as clear purpose, informality, participation, listening, open communication, shared leadership, consensus decisions, and clear role and task assignments are significant influences on the team effectiveness.