To get a task done, some thrive on working in a group setting, while others would prefer to keep their heads down and work solo. I was one of those people who used to prefer working independently until I was assigned to a team back in school. The class on group dynamics and team building was extremely important to me because learning to work as part of a team is critical to my personal development.
What is a Team
Every team is a group of people, but not every group of people is a team. A team is a group of people with a variety of strong skills and expertise pursuing a common purpose. It is a group of people who, together, can achieve more than the total of their individual achievements.
Strategy for team building
Carefully selecting high-performing team members is only one aspect of building an effective team. Proper consideration, planning, and strategy are required to build and manage an effective team. Below are three key strategies for building an effective team.
- Establish a common goal: It is important that there is a clear idea of what needs to be accomplished. Every team member must know the what, why, how, and what of a task or project. Every goal should have an established, clear time frame, and each team member should understand their responsibilities.
- Collaboration and synergy: For a team to function effectively, there must be good collaboration. Effective communication, adequate emotional intelligence, and respect for diversity are the keys to collaboration and synergy. It encourages problem solving and a broader perspective of thinking.
- Trust: Trust provides a sense of safety amongst members. When team members feel safe with each other, comfort is established and appropriate risks have a chance of occurring.
Causes of Team Ineffectiveness
An ineffective team is conflict-ridden, filled with distrust, unfocused, and reeking of negative competition. The ineffectiveness of a team’s performance can be traced to at least one of the following:
- A lack of focus or clarity on the team’s purpose or goal.
- Poor communication amongst members.
- Undefined action plans and responsibilities.
- Incompetence of team members.
- Resource constraints and competition.
- Absence of trust.
- The fear of conflict.
- Lack of commitment.
- Avoidance of Accountability.
- Inattention to results.
Characteristics of an Effective team
The effectiveness of a team is essentially about how the team works together. Here are characteristics that you will find in an effective team:
- There is a clear purpose.
- Members have defined roles and expect performance.
- The team atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed.
- Members trust one another.
- They engage in civilised disagreement with no signs of avoiding, smoothing over, or suppressing conflict.
- An open communication channel is established.
- Members commit to decisions and plans of action.
- A sense of accountability is established.
- A high level of focus on the goal is maintained.
- Active participation is encouraged.
As said in class, for a group of people to become a team and survive as a team, there has to be cohesion. Teams without cohesion are prone to self destruction. Teams without cohesion can become easy prey.