Importance of team


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Importance of team

  1. 1. Importance of Team-Working in IT Organizations:IntroductionHere are some terms that are often used when discussing teamwork. Which ones do you think definewhat a team is?A group of PeopleSynergyHaving One AimWhole > SumCo-operationFlexibilityWorking togetherReporting to One BossServing One CustomerSome of these terms are features of good teams. For example, the expression whole > sum is usedwhen they are working well together - but there are some teams whose collective performance falls shortof what you might expect given the quality of individuals.The term reporting to one boss can be a misleading one. Reporting lines are frequently designed withinthe constraints of grading structures. Of necessity, there is often a compromise between pay structures ortraditional reporting lines and grouping people together who work on common goals. In reality,organizational structures are often complicated, and people can be members of several teams, because ateam is a group of people working together towards a common goal.Characteristics Of Good Team Building A. High level of interdependence among team members B. Team leader has good people skills and is committed to team approach C. Each team member is willing to contribute D. Team develops a relaxed climate for communication E. Team members develop a mutual trust F. Team and individuals are prepared to take risks G. Team is clear about goals and establishes targets H. Team member roles are defined I. Team members know how to examine team and individual errors without personal attacks J. Team has capacity to create new ideas K. Each team member knows he can influence the team agendaWhat is "Team Building"?A team is a group of people working towards a common goal. There are some strengths and weaknessesin each each individual, hence there is a need to work in a team so that we can build upon our "collectivestrengths". Sports, Organizations are examples of "Team Work". Hence, Team Building is the processof enabling that group of people to reach their goal.It is therefore a management issue, and the most effective form of team building is that undertaken as aform of management consultancy, rather than as pure training (though there is a role for training within aprogram of team building).In its simplest terms, the stages involved in team building are:Co-created for a IT Company Page 1
  2. 2. A. To clarify the team goals B. To identify those issues which inhibit the team from reaching their goals C. To address those issues, remove the inhibitors and enable the goals to be achievedThe primary skills in this process are recognizing the right issues, and tackling them in an appropriate wayand an appropriate order. Team building can also take a different form depending on the size and natureof the team.In a project environment, where team composition is continually changing, the emphasis must be ondeveloping the skills in individuals to be effective team members. The scale involved is 1 person, and theteam building consultant is endeavoring to change the skills and abilities of the individual at operatingwithin a team (or within multiple teams).In teams where membership is static - typically in management teams - how the individuals within theteam relate can have a big bearing on team performance. If a member leaves, or another joins, thedynamics of the team can be changed greatly. Here, the scale is small - say, 2 to about 12 - and the teambuilding consultant endeavors to improve relationships between team members, using tools such as theMBTI and/or the MTR-i team roles.A larger scale operates between teams. Where the teams do not relate well, they are called teamislands, and it is the relationship between the teams that becomes the focus for the consultant.The largest scale is organizational culture change. With the exception of the senior management team,the ability of individuals to make an impact on the corporate culture is very limited. One of the key aims ofthe consultant is to change the behaviors and attitudes prevalent in the organization, which are almostindependent of who actually works there - new recruits who are different often start behaving in accordwith the existing culture.Evaluating Team Effectiveness When evaluating how well team members are working together, thefollowing statements can be used as a guide: A. Team goals are developed through a group process of team interaction and agreement in which each team member is willing to work toward achieving these goals. B. Participation is actively shown by all team members and roles are shared to facilitate the accomplishment of tasks and feelings of group togetherness. C. Feedback is asked for by members and freely given as a way of evaluating the teams performance and clarifying both feelings and interests of the team members. When feedback is given it is done with a desire to help the other person. D. Team decision making involves a process that encourages active participation by all members. E. Leadership is distributed and shared among team members and individuals willingly contribute their resources as needed. F. Problem solving, discussing team issues, and critiquing team effectiveness are encouraged by all team members. G. Conflict is not suppressed. Team members are allowed to express negative feelings and confrontation within the team which is managed and dealt with by team members. Dealing with and managing conflict is seen as a way to improve team performance. H. Team member resources, talents, skills, knowledge, and experiences are fully identified, recognized, and used whenever appropriate. I. Risk taking and creativity are encouraged. When mistakes are made, they are treated as a source of learning rather than reasons for punishment.After evaluating team performance against the above guidelines, determine those areas in which theteam members need to improve and develop a strategy for doing so.Role of a Team Leader in a TeamCo-created for a IT Company Page 2
  3. 3. There are several ways in which the team leader can contribute to creating a positive climate within theteam. One of the most powerful forces is to put forward, in cooperation with team members, an excitingvision/purpose of what the team is to achieve. Once the vision is developed, it needs to be kept in front ofthe team members as a reminder of what they wish to accomplish. The team leader where possibleshould help select or influence the composition of team members. Selection should be based willingnessof people to work in a team setting and the resources, both people skills and technical components, theyare able to bring to the team.The team leader can provide the leadership for helping the team develop an understood and accepted setof principles that will contribute to their success. Included in this set of principles should be norms foroperating within the group, criteria for evaluating success, standards for determining quality ofperformance, and an identified reward system to recognize the teams successes.Making of a Productive TeamTeam building is an effort in which a team studies its own process of working together and acts to createa climate that encourages and values the contributions of team members. Their energies are directedtoward problem solving, task effectiveness, and maximizing the use of all members resources to achievethe teams purpose. Sound team building recognizes that it is not possible to fully separate onesperformance from those of others.Team building works best when the following conditions are met (Francis and Young. 1979). A. There is a high level of interdependence among team members. The team is working on important tasks in which each team member has a commitment and teamwork is critical for achieving the desired results. B. The team leader has good people skills, is committed to developing a team approach, and allocates time to team-building activities. Team management is seen as a shared function, and team members are given the opportunity to exercise leadership when their experiences and skills are appropriate to the needs of the team. C. Each team member is capable and willing to contribute information, skills, and experiences that provide an appropriate mix for achieving the teams purpose. D. The team develops a climate in which people feel relaxed and are able to be direct and open in their communications. E. Team members develop a mutual trust for each other and believe that other team members have skills and capabilities to contribute to the team. F. Both the team and individual members are prepared to take risks and are allowed to develop their abilities and skills. G. The team is clear about its important goals and establishes performance targets that cause stretching but are achievable. H. Team member roles are defined, and effective ways to solve problems and communicate are developed and supported by all team members. I. Team members know how to examine team and individual errors and weaknesses without making personal attacks, which enables the group to learn from its experiences. J. Team efforts are devoted to the achievement of results, and team performance is frequently evaluated to see where improvements can be made. K. The team has the capacity to create new ideas through group interaction and the influence of outside people. Good ideas are followed up, and people are rewarded for innovative risk taking. L. Each member of the team knows that he or she can influence the team agenda. There is a feeling of trust and equal influence among team members that facilitates open and honest communication.Team building will occur more easily when all team members work jointly on a task of mutual importance.This allows each member to provide their technical knowledge and skills in helping to solve the problem,Co-created for a IT Company Page 3
  4. 4. complete the project, and develop new programs. During this process, team building can be facilitated asmembers evaluate their working relationship as a team and then develop and articulate guidelines thatwill lead to increased productivity and team member cooperation.As part of this process, team members need to learn how to be willing to manage conflict, evaluateperformance of the group, and provide feedback and support that will encourage each member to meettheir commitment to the team and the organization.Team performance can best be evaluated if the team develops a model of excellence against which tomeasure its performance.The team leader should be the liaison between the team and upper management. The team leader needsto know and work with upper management to obtain a full commitment from them in support of the teamsprogram.However, when this happens, team members must realize that they have a major responsibility to makemaximum use of the resources and support provided.The team leader can encourage team member growth, and should be willing to take some risk by havingmembers whose resources are relevant to the immediate task provide the leadership.The team leader should be fair, supportive, and recognized by team members as one who can make finaljudgments, work with upper management, and give direction to the team as needed.To assist the team leader in evaluating the level of team development, have each team member answerthe twelve questions in Table I. This should be followed by a discussion of the questions to determinewhere and how changes should be made to help facilitate the development of a strong team.As team members build commitment, trust, and support for one another, it will allow them to develop andaccomplish desired results. This commitment, trust, and self-determination by each team member iscritical in achieving a sustained high level of performance. Team members will learn to appreciate andenjoy one another for who they are and will help keep one another on track. The team will havedeveloped its working methods so that they become an informal set of guidelines.Which is "Focused Team"?When the team resources are focused and members are all working to accomplish the same purpose,teamwork can be very rewarding and productive. This is best accomplished when team members use aproactive approach rather than a reactive approach to accomplish their purpose (Adams, 1987).The proactive approach manifests such characteristics as: A. The team members take a very positive approach in jointly determining the way they are going to work together as a team and what they want to have happen. When individuals and the entire team choose to operate this way and are willing to set petty differences aside, unbelievable results become possible. When individuals adopt this attitude and commit to use their resources, knowledge, and skills to contribute to the goals of the team, alignment with the teams overall purpose comes about. This will not happen unless both the team leader and team members choose to do so. B. Having a well-defined purpose or vision of what the team will accomplish is a very powerful force for the team leader and members. Goals are aligned with the team purpose, and team members are empowered to accomplish the goals. This process leads to a high level of team productivity. C. Team members have a positive attitude toward change and are willing to accept and allow change to occur as needed in order to accomplish desired results.Co-created for a IT Company Page 4
  5. 5. D. Team members understand that patience is required, and that for some goals, a long-term commitment is needed to accomplish the desired results. E. Interests of both the team leader and team members are focused on desired results rather than on shorticulture-term problem- solving activities. If people learn to focus simultaneously on both the current situation and the desired results, problems that arise will be solved as part of the total process of achieving the desired results. F. The sixth characteristic of a well-functioning team is that the members have a strong feeling of control within the team. They are able to establish priorities and then commit time and resources for accomplishing these tasks. G. The seventh characteristic of a well functioning team is team members verbally and publicly support each other. They recognize that negative comments about others tear the team down.Team leaders and members that make a conscious, sustained effort to make these seven characteristicsa part of their mind set will find that both creativity and accomplishment of desired results will be muchhigher than it would be otherwise.Handling Conflicts in TeamConflict is one of the drivers for improved team performance. Whenever you work in a big team, thereought to arise some disputes and conflicts. If managed well, conflict can lead to better decisions, morecreative ideas and higher quality output from the team. Managed badly, it can stop teamwork and hinderindividuals from achieving their personal goals.The most widely-used methods of resolving conflict are based on game theory.Game TheoryGame Theory is a complex and extensive science, but there are some simple elements that can be usedin everyday dealings with people at work, including the following principles.Everyone is trying to achieve some kind of "payoff" or benefit, but the payoff may be different for differentpeople and organizations. Examples of payoffs might be: 1. gaining a sense of achievement from completing a worthwhile and/or high quality job 2. obtaining financial reward 3. making a profit for the company 4. getting the job done as quickly as possible in order to go somewhere better 5. having a feeling of self-esteem or self-worth 6. being recognized for ones effortsGetting your payoff is called a "win". Not getting your payoff is called a "lose".Types of GamesThere are different types of games:  a competitive game means that for you to get your payoff, someone else has to lose theirs. For example, in a competitive game of tennis at Wimbledon, for one player to win and proceed to the next round, the other player has to lose and be put out of the tournament.  a cooperative game means that for you to maximize your payoff it is best for other players to get their payoff as well. For example, when you drive a car, you are most likely to get your "payoff" (getting to your destination safely and on time) if all other players of the game (other drivers on the same road) get their "payoff" and arrive at their destination safely and on time. If other drivers crash they may delay or prevent you from getting where you want to go.Co-created for a IT Company Page 5
  6. 6. In real life there are often many games taking place in parallel, some competitive and others cooperative. Problems arise when you play a cooperative game competitively (you can end up causing yourself problems), or a competitive game cooperatively (you can end up losing). A manager-employee collaboration, or collaboration between team members, is usually a cooperative game. To play a cooperative game, you need to find ways of working where you get your payoff and your partner person/organization gets their payoff. This is called a win-win position.Where co-operative games (collaborations) fail this is often due to one of the following: 1. each party makes assumptions about, and fails to understand, the other parties win positions. 2. where the win positions are understood, the parties criticize each others win positions. Eg: they try to convince each other that their expectations are unrealistic 3. where the win positions are accepted, each party focuses on the difficulties of apparent differences, rather than innovating and trying to come up with innovative solutions.The following process can help two or more parties in a conflict to play a game well and achieve a win-win. This process is designed for team members, where it is assumed that there is a degree of goodwilland some trust between them. This process may not be so appropriate for other types of conflict, such asbetween organizations - although the same principles of game theory apply, other variations on thisprocess may be more relevant.Following the above process means that those involved should:  Clarify what the conflict is or the joint decision that needs to be made. This helps prevent scope creep in the discussion which makes the conflict endless, or the argument going round in circles because different people are trying to solve different problems  Find out the win position of other parties. This involves:  listening, without judging or arguing against the other parties views.  declaring your own win position so that other parties understand what you need.  accepting others win positions and not arguing with others win positionsThis can be difficult, because most people only see their only point of view and, in a conflict situation,emotion can make one blind to alternatives. In extreme cases, you may need to get each party toarticulate/summarize the others argument until the other party agrees with the summary. This is a veryimportant stage and should not be rushed, because: 1. It will be much easier to find a solution if everyone understands what everyone else needs from the situation (this is referred to as a game of "complete information" - not all games are as open as this, but in a team environment a complete sharing of information is a highly desirable goal). 2. This stage (done properly) ensures that any conflict is based on real differences and not mis- perceptions. 1. Brainstorm ideas. This is to generate creative ideas for meeting the desires of both/all parties. (Classic brainstorm rules mean you should generate ideas without evaluating them - eg: do not express disagreement with ideas at this point in the process). 2. Evaluate those ideas to see if any meet the win criteria of both parties.This process takes a positive approach of making proposals that meet both win positions. If you dont takea positive approach (ie suggesting solutions rather than criticizing others views) the argument can end upgoing round in circles. If, after evaluation, no ideas meet the win criteria of both parties, then:Co-created for a IT Company Page 6
  7. 7. 1. Declare how you might be prepared to compromise your win position. Ask other parties to declare how they might also be prepared to compromise. 2. Reevaluate the ideas to see if any of them meet the new, compromise positions.If, after this stage, there are still no ideas that meet the compromised win-win position, then you have torefer to a third party to make a resolution. This might involve referring to an independent senior managerto make an executive decision. In extreme cases, where games reach this stage the result is usually alose for one or other party, and often a lose-lose scenario.Finally, once agreement is reached then dont skip the final step - articulating the conclusion. If you dontensure everyone remembers what the final decision was and why, you may get more conflict in the future(memories tend to be subjective).ConclusionA team is a group of people working towards a common goal. Team building is a process of enabling theteam to achieve that goal. The stages involved include clarifying the goal, identifying the inhibitors andremoving them.Co-created for a IT Company Page 7