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teamworks BUILDING A SENSE OF TEAMWORK The term “team” is often used to refer to groups that meet over time to complete a project and then wind down (e.g., cross-functional teams) or is used to describe a group that operates solely as a team, with the role of leader alternating (self-directed work teams), or a traditional staff that meets as a group on an ongoing basis to discuss operating issues. Here I am using the word “team” as a synonym for “teamwork.” Many departments do not operate as teams—that is, “practice teamwork.” Members may talk to each other at the printer or over lunch, and their work efforts may be designed to meet the overarching objectives of the department, but these employees’ work on a day-to-day basis is largely done as individuals, which is unfortunate, for many business experts now believe that teamwork is critical to organization productivity and profitability. Downsizing, right-sizing, reorganizing, reengineering—all are indications of the pressure on organizations to reduce the size of their workforces. The only way to cope with this need to do more with less is by working

cooperatively in an environment of respect, drawing on all the resources available to get the job done. When people work together in an atmosphere of trust and accountability toward a common goal, they put aside turf issues and politics and focus on the tasks to be done. This focus of resources overcomes barriers, helps to identify new opportunities, and builds a momentum that leads to three major bottom-line benefits:

1.Better problem solving 2.Greater productivity 3.More effective use of resources Jon Katzenbach, author of The Wisdom of Teams, observes, “There is virtually no environment in which teams—if done right—can’t have a measurable impact on the performance of an organization.” Unless you have built a sense of teamwork among your employees, they will have no shared performance goals, no joint work efforts, no mutual accountability, which can increase productivity. There is also a group of softer benefits of teamwork that greatly enhances the workplace:

Need I say more about the benefits of teamwork? Team Characteristics

Table of Contents Building a Sense of teamwork .............Page 1 Elements of effective Teamwork.............Page 2 Why leaders need to Rethink Teamwork.............Page 3 Fron Theory to Practice................ Page 4 Productive teams usually share many characteristics. They have a common purpose each member is committed to. They stay involved until the objective is completed. They care about each other: and, in keeping with this, they are concerned about how their actions and attitudes affect each other. They listen to each other and respect all points-of-view, and are sensitive to each other’s needs. And their leaders encourage everyone’s participation in the decisions to be made. If you looked into groups of employees who work as teams, you would see these characteristics or traits: Building-a-Sense-of-Teamwork-AmongStaff-Members.aspx

Openness and candor. The more reluctant people are to express their feelings and be honest with each other, the more likely suspicion and distrust will exist. When real teamwork is present, team members, because they basically trust each other, are more open and honest with each other. Acceptance of assignments. It might make each of us happier if we could choose all our work. However, this is unrealistic. Still, when real teamwork exists, team members willingly accept assignments. Motivated by peer pressure, they also work hard to get their jobs done right the first time and to meet deadlines. Understood and accepted goals. A team needs purpose, direction, and goals. These are accepted by the members of the team, and they work collaboratively to achieve them. Their manager has explained the importance of achievement of these goals in the bigger, corporate picture, and team members understand why it is so important for the goals to be reached. Committed to their accomplishment, they assist one another to make them a reality. Progress and results assessed. Teamwork requires that members be results-directed as opposed to process-oriented. Their focus is on their

objectives, and their activities are directed toward those goals. Periodically, under direction of a leader, the team assesses its progress. That knowledge serves to guide future team action.

ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE TEAMWORK Cooperation is a tough dynamic to foster. You must pay careful attention to all the elements of effective teamwork, adjusting your approach as necessary to accommodate the personalities of the team members. But with thoughtful planning and organization, as well as the right kinds of motivation, you can make any team more effective. Communication Each team member must know what her teammates are doing, especially if the project is complex. Open lines of communication -- among peers and also with the supervisor -- allows the entire team to respond quickly to unforeseen events. For example, suppose a personal emergency causes one team member

to miss an upcoming deadline. Rapid communication among the other members allows them to quickly pick up the slack. Effective Interpersonal Relations Even simple projects require effective interpersonal relations. For example, a team leader must be an effective manager, offering guidance and encouragement to under-performing team members and keeping tabs on everyone’s progress. The team members also must work together well, not competing for credit, but rather focusing on how to help, or at least not impede, their teammates. Also, team members must maintain functional relationships with the team leader, for example, by being open to criticism and following directions well. Task Delegation If a team leader doesn’t delegate tasks well, the team can’t capitalize on the primary advantage of teamwork:

differentiated skills. Abilities and experience vary among team members, so the project’s assignments should be based on who can best perform each task. The overall effect of smart task delegation is efficiency. If everyone does what he is best at, the team functions at its highest possible level. Goals Another key element of effective team management is setting clear and reasonable short- and long-term goals. For example, a team leader might break the main goal of a project into a chronological series of steps. Then she might group the steps into various stages, assigning a deadline for the end of each stage. The team then can be confident that steady progress toward its short-term goal means the long-term goal is closer, as well. Motivation

Motivation comes in many varieties. Not getting yelled at by your boss, for example, is a form of motivation -- but not a very effective one. The best kinds of motivation enhance job satisfaction and a sense of personal accomplishment. For example, motivating a team might involve offering individual team members rewards for work well done, as well as offering group awards for beating deadlines. The individual rewards motivate by ensuring hard-working team members get due credit, and group awards motivate by ensuring no one feels left out. elements-effective-teamwork-5596. html

WHY LEADERS NEED TO RETHINK TEAMWORK Even as academic journals and business sections of bookstores fill up with titles devoted to teams, teamwork, and team players, Harvard Business School Professor Amy C. Edmondson wonders if many might be barking up the wrong tree. “I’ve begun to think that teams are not the solution to getting the work done,” says Edmondson, the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management. The problem: Stable teams that plan first and execute later are increasingly infeasible in the twenty-first century workforce, she explains.

Coordination and collaboration are essential, but they happen in fluid arrangements, rather than in static teams. In her new book, Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy, Edmondson says that surviving—and thriving—in today’s economic climate requires a seismic shift in how we think about and use teamwork. Edmondson has been studying teamwork for two decades. In that time, “we’ve seen fewer stable, well-designed, well-composed teams, simply because of the nature of the work, which is more uncertain and dynamic than before. As a means for getting the work done, we’ve got to focus on the interpersonal processes and dynamics that occur among people working together for shorter durations.” sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2012/12/28/why-leadersneed-to-rethink-teamwork/

FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE In the book, Edmondson makes the case for managers to shift from holding a static view of teamwork to this dynamic one. Real-world examples drawn from her research illustrate the concept, and she offers strategies and solutions applicable to organizations of all shapes and sizes to help them put effective teaming into practice. The book synthesizes 20 years of research. And unlike many authors, Edmondson did not find writing difficult. “The hardest part was figuring out how to create a structure that worked,” she says. “When I think about my research, it doesn’t necessarily organize itself into a clear narrative from point A to point B.” Edmondson’s career hasn’t followed a clear narrative either. After earning her undergraduate degree in engineering and design from Harvard, she went to work for Buckminster Fuller. “It’s what indirectly got me into this game in the first place,” she explains. “I began to

understand part of a larger vision of using thoughtful design to solve big problems in the world…and I became interested in how people come together and work together to innovate, to problem-solve, to do better things.” Edmondson cites her academic mentors at Harvard—J. Richard Hackman, a leading thinker in team effectiveness, and Chris Argyris, an organizational learning expert—as core influences. “This [teaming] was a blending of two different ideas: my deep interest in interpersonal dynamics that thwart learning and my growing interest in how work takes place in the team and in the team context,” she says. Understanding the impact of interpersonal dynamics is crucial. “There’s a growing recognition that most of today’s truly important problems related to the environment, related to smart cities, related to health care simply cannot be solved without cross-disciplinary collaboration,” says Edmondson. To illustrate, she tells the story of the execution of a CT scan, a process that took four days to unfold in one hospital, but should have taken a couple of hours. Each member of the highly trained staff involved with the scan performed his or her job well, but it was the hospital’s hierarchical and siloed structure—so common in health care—that no longer worked.

The solution, according to Edmondson, is a teaming process that includes a deep recognition among individual players of the interdependency of their roles. This recognition leads naturally to early and consistent communication among formerly separate parties throughout their joint work. Once the task is completed, more communication— this time in the form of reflection and feedback— must take place.

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