Fostering teamwork is a top priority for many leaders. The benefits are clear: increased productivity, improved customer service, more flexible
systems, employee empowerment. But is the vision clear? To effectively
implement teams, leaders need a clear picture of the seven elements
high-performance teams have in common.
Commitment to the purpose and values of an organization provides a clear sense
of direction. Team members understand how their work fits into corporate
objectives and they agree that their team's goals are achievable and aligned
with corporate mission and values.
The power of an effective team is in direct proportion to the skills members
possess and the initiative members expend. Work teams need people who have
strong technical and interpersonal skills and are willing to learn. Teams also
need self-leaders who take responsibility for getting things done. But if a few
team members shoulder most of the burden, the team runs the risk of member
burnout, or worse -- member turn-off.
For a work group to reach its full potential, members must be able to say what
they think , ask for help, share new or unpopular ideas, and risk making
mistakes. This can only happen in an atmosphere where team members show
concern, trust one another, and focus on solutions, not problems. Communication
--when it is friendly, open, and positive --plays a vital role in creating such
Most challenges in the workplace today require much more than good solo
performance. In increasingly complex organizations, success depends upon the
degree of interdependence recognized within the team. Leaders can facilitate
cooperation by highlighting the impact of individual members on team
productivity and clarifying valued team member behaviors. The following
F.A.C.T.S. model of effective team member behaviors (follow-through, accuracy,
timeliness, creativity, and spirit) may serve as a guide for helping teams
identify behaviors that support synergy within the work team.
5. CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
It is inevitable that teams of bright, diverse thinkers will experience
conflict from time to time. The problem is not that differences exist, but in
how they are managed. If people believe that conflict never occurs in
"good" groups, they may sweep conflict under the rug.
6. CHANGE MANAGEMENT
Tom Peters, in Thriving On Chaos, writes "The surviving companies will,
above all, be flexible responders that create market initiatives. This has to
happen through people." It is no longer a luxury to have work teams that
can perform effectively within a turbulent environment. It is a necessity.
Teams must not only respond to change, but actually initiate it.
A cohesive work team can only add value if it pays attention to the ongoing
development of three important connections: to the larger work organization, to
team members, and to other work teams.
To compete effectively, leaders must fashion a network of skilled employees who support each other in the achievement of corporate goals and the delivery
of seamless service.