A team is a group of people, working together, who are committed to a common purpose and goal.
Before a group of individuals can be defined as an effective team however, it must go through four stages:
·Questioning each other.
·'Wait and see'.
·Some people more visible than others.
·Getting more information about each other.
·Deciding if they are committed.
·Developing relationships of trust or distrust.
·Increasing social interaction.
·Differences emerging - conflict ensues.
·Leadership being earned.
·Power balances shifting.
-Alliances forming in group.
·Group members moaning and gossiping.
·Complex and satisfying communication.
·High balanced commitment to other team members and task.
·High level of trust.
·Team resolving problems.
·"Team power", synergy.
To move through these stages a team needs:
A clear vision and purpose
For a team to be effective it needs to know exactly what it's purpose is - what they have been brought together to do, and why.
Achievable, noticeable results
Once the purpose of the team has been established you will need to determine how you will measure when that purpose has been achieved.
It is important that the results expected from the team should be:
It is important that the team can see and recognise success on a regular basis - if the ultimate goal of the team is a long term achievement the leader needs to put in place some intermediate goals. This prevents discouragement and gives the team the opportunity to celebrate its successes.
This recognition provides the motivation
and impetus for continued performance, and prevents the team seeing the goal as 'too big'.
Ground rules and briefing
Clear, agreed ground rules and norms are essential in any team. They determine what behaviours are acceptable and what are not. They set out the values that the team wishes to work to.
Ground rules should cover:
·What values are important to the team (confidentiality etc.)
·How people will communicate.
·What behaviours are unacceptable (racism, sexism etc.)
·What the team will do to deal with disputes or conflict.
·What the consequences of breaching the ground rules are.
The company's policies and procedures manual is a useful tool for facilitating the discussion of ground rules as it sets out the rules that the organisation as a whole operates to and can be used as a starting point for discussions.
It is essential that all members of the team agree to and commit to operating by the ground rules.
Teams may move backwards through the stages of development as well as forwards - people join and leave the team, personal disputes and arguments arise, daily fire-fighting may obscure the vision and purpose, and increasingly in this age of technology, team members work apart rather than in the same physical location.
In order to maintain the impetus of the teams performance these issues need to be dealt with.
The first part of this is to ensure that there are effective channels of team communication. Not only in terms of written, electronic or phone communication, but in terms of regular face to face contact between the entire team. It is essential that the team gets together on a regular basis to discuss progress, and how the team as a whole is performing in order to reach the shared goal, as well as how each individual member is progressing towards their own objectives.
Without these regular meetings there is a danger that the team will tend to fragment back to individuals - all working in vaguely the same direction and with the same ultimate goal in mind, but separate and without a sense of shared purpose. Synergy is lost.
Team building activities, in which the team actually works together to achieve a task set them (outside the workplace) are invaluable for strengthening the cohesiveness of a team and should be carried out as often as practicable - this is particularly important when the structure of the team changes with new members joining, or in times of intensive change.
Team building activities should, wherever possible, have an emphasis on 'fun' - all too often teams are working in stressful situations, seeking to overcome problems, and it is important to capture a sense of enjoyment and pleasure in the company of the team. This will help each team member see the others as people they want to be with, work with and share a direction with.