1. MAY 2008/U1/P2 #3 TEAMWORK a) Discuss FOUR factors that may influence effective teamwork. [12 marks] b) Evaluate THREE benefits of using a team approach in the workplace. [13 marks] 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 basically accountable. An effective team requires cohesion that is held together by several factors. Four factors that may influence effective teamwork areeffective leadership,procedures for conflict resolution, encouragement and commitment. One of the most important aspects of teamwork is effective leadership. This means that the team leader should have the skills to create and maintain a working culture that is positive. This helps to motivate and even inspire the team members to get involved in creating an environment where there is a positive approach to work along with high levels of commitment. A good team leader is a person who not only focuses on himself on the purpose and direction of the team, but also makes sure that the other members of the team share this focus. Moreover, a good team leader also has to be able to promote a high level of morale amongst the team members so that they feel supported and valued. This is particularly useful for preventing the bane of most office cultures- that of backbiting, rumormongering, gossip mongering and cronyism- which can derail the efforts of any teamwork. Secondly, by having structured methods of resolving conflict in the team, effective teamwork can come about. Team members should have a way of expressing their opinions without fear of causing offense to anyone. Direct confrontation can also be allowed in a moderate manner so that matters that may have been simmering can be aired out and cleared. Instead of ignoring and procrastinating these issues, a hands- on approach that resolves them quickly is better. In fact, it is advisable for the team leader to actually sit with parties in conflict and work out the differences between them, without taking sides and making sure to remain objective. By having proper methods to resolve conflict in the team, effective teamwork can be brought about. Thirdly, teamwork can only be effective if there is encouragement. Good teams will support and encourage each other. Team spirit can be a very powerful influence, and identifying with one’s team can lead to great loyalty and mutual support. The strongest and most consistent factor that increased teamwork was managers encouraging teamwork. When managers help employees work together as a team, resolve disagreements and support team efforts, the group as a whole can exhibit higher teamwork. In this way, team members are better motivated as they have the manager’s interest and this satisfies the social needs of the individuals as put forward by Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of needs theory. Lastly, commitment is most important if teamwork is to be effective. This refers to the individual himself, if he wants to work in the team and if he feels the purpose of the team is worthwhile. If team members think the team is neither worthwhile nor does he want to work in the team then their contribution toward the team may be poor. Such individuals exhibit low motivation and morale. It can ultimately lead to low productivity, low quality and lesser profits for the firm as pointed out by Deming in his Productivity-Quality-Profitability link. In contrast, if team members
2. MAY 2008/U1/P2 #3 TEAMWORK hold positive views toward the team, their input toward the team may be significant and this will lead to the teamwork being more effective because there is cooperation among members for the common purpose of completing the task at hand. This is so important since a committed team leads to higher productivity and quality of goods produced and nowadays consumers are far more quality conscious they are willing to pay higher prices for a better quality product. If sound processes and techniques underlie team building and management, an organization canharness the benefits of a team. Three such benefits are synergy, increased skills and knowledge andflexibility. The first benefit of a team approach in the workplace is synergy. A team of employees workingtogether develops synergy. It produces more and has more creativity and energy than do the samenumber of individuals working alone. Working in a team environment provides solidarity and sharingwhich is usually absent in normal structures. This is beneficial to the business since this solidarity leadsto workers being motivated as their social needs are fulfilled according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of humanneeds theory. This makes the workers feel a sense of belonging and may best be reflected in lowerabsenteeism rates as well as lower labour turnover. Secondly, using a team approach can be a benefit because it increases the skills and knowledge ofworkers. In a team, the skills and knowledge of the members increase. This increase is due in part totraining. In addition to formal training, when individuals are exposed to more than their job, theynaturally pick up skills and knowledge from the other workers. This can best be reflected in an increasein the quality of the goods and services produced. An increase in quality means there are fewer defectsand fewer rejects. This can reduce wastage costs by the firm and also a fall in the average cost of theproducts produced. Creating products of higher quality is so important as consumers nowadays are farmore quality conscious and will be willing to pay an even higher price for a higher quality product. Thiscan increase the productivity in the workplace and is best seen by the productivity-quality-profitabilitylink put forward by Deming. Lastly, a team approach can be a benefit because of its flexibility. As team workers become moreadaptable in their attitudes and capacity to perform, the organization gains flexibility. The broaderknowledge base of team members allows them to adjust to changes in work demands and work flowand to respond positively to emergencies. Moreover, the enhanced skill of the individual team memberspermits improved response to organizational demands. In retrospect, using a team approach can be beneficial to both the organization as well as workers.