To end this week’s focus on Work Teams and building effective team in the workplace, here are some final thoughts, tips and hints for you to take advantage of!
People are important
The success of the Japanese management philosophy kaizen, or continuous improvement, helped Western business to rethink the traditional industrial-age organisation. Kaizen is based on viewing the company as a team striving, with the full participation of the rank-and-file, to continuously improve the organisation.
One of the architects of this philosophy was an American, the legendary W Edwards Deming. Upon his return to the United States, Deming was asked what the Japanese had taught him. Without looking up from his dinner, he replied: ‘People are important.’
Harvey Robbins & Michael Finley in Why Teams Don’t Work.
A team in decline
Something is wrong in your administrative team or work group if individuals who have normally been supportive and reasonable start to display the following characteristics:
- Begin to perform poorly by missing deadlines or producing substandard work.
- Do not take responsibility for their actions.
- Get involved in serious and unresolved conflicts.
- No longer show much interest in team activity.
- Exhibit destructive criticism or dismissive behaviour towards others in the group.
- Expect others to solve their problems.
Remember, as the manager, it is your responsibility to observe, diagnose and treat dissaffection, disunity or demotivation.
What makes a good team
In ‘Caught in the Middle: A Leadership Guide for Partnership in the Workplace’, US management consultant Rick Maurer writes that good teams everywhere share certain characteristics. Lack of any of these traits may mean that thew team has problems that aren’t being addressed. In his view team members should:
- Have fun. Good teams enjoy themselves and working with each other. A lot of smiling and good-natured teasing means members are working well together.
- Listen well. Team members listen to the opinions and respect the feelings of others.
- Encourage each other. Members want each other to succeed.
- Share resources. Team members work co-operatively and share material and information. They don’t hoard nuts for their own use.
- Pitch in. Team members fill in for each other and share the burden because they understand that work must get done for the sake of the organisation.
How to tell a team from a mob
The current popularity of teams sometimes causes management to put the label ‘teams’ on what in reality are just mobs of people. In Why Teams Don’t Work, Harvey Robbins & Michael Finley list the ways we might differentiate between real teams and fake teams or mobs:
|Members understand their interdependence and work to support each other.||Members think they’re grouped together for administrative purposes only. They continue to work independently, sometimes at cross purposes, with others.|
|Members are committed to goals they helped establish.||Members weren’t involved in establishing goals. They see themselves as hired hands.|
|Members apply their talent and knowledge to help find solutions for the organisation.||Members are told what to do. Suggestions are not encouraged.|
|Members work in an environment of trust and encourage questions from each other.||Members distrust the motives of colleagues. Expressions of opinion or disagreement are viewed as divisive.|
|Members communicate openly and honestly.||Members are cautious about what they say. They hide their cards from fear of being trapped.|
|Members recognise conflict as part of normal interaction and use such situations as opportunities to work out new ideas. Conflicts are resolved quickly and constructively.||Members don’t differentiate confrontation from conflict, or differences of opinion from chips on the shoulder. Conflict situations are left unresolved.|
|Members participate in decisions and call on the leader for decisions only if the team does not arrive at one. In either case, team members have input into the process to achieve positive results for the team.||Members may or may not participate in decisions. However, conformity (going along with what the leaders say), not results, is the driving factor.|