Developing Teamwork in the Workplace
Effective teamwork can take an organization a long way towards meeting its objectives. In this article, the Career Experts at Bayt.com explore the building blocks of effective teams.
Fortune Magazine and Leadership author Max De Pree defines “teamwork as an art. The key elements in the art of working together are how to deal with change, how to deal with conflict and how to reach our potential. The needs of the team are best met when we meet the needs of individual persons.”
“Teamwork” is a much flouted term in the workplace today, but it is actually only a few organizations that are really committed to fostering and nurturing this important commodity. For employees to become part of a team, it is necessary for them to feel engaged in something that is larger than their everyday job function, in something that identifies them as individually integral parts and unifies their efforts towards reaching organizational goals and ensuring overall strategic success.
Creating teamwork is a daunting task at its early stages, but it can definitely be achieved through good leadership skills and a sound commitment and the results are worth the hard work. Team building requires time and persistence.
- Time: Time is an essential component to successful team building as people need a fair amount of time to get to know each other and to learn to know, trust and respect their leader.
- Persistence: Cohesive functional teams can not be developed overnight. A leader should commit to being patient and persistent in order to ensure consistent progress and truly reap the rewards of effective teamwork.
The Stages of Team Development:
Every leader needs to be on familiar terms with how to walk his team through the different stages of team development in order to avoid stress, chaos and uncertainty. Psychologist Bruce Tuckman developed his team development model in the 1970s and it has been a great success so far. Here are the 5 essential phases of team development:
- Stage 1: Forming: This is the initial phase when the team first gets together. It is usually a stressful period, as team members do not necessarily know each other well and might approach each other with caution and trepidation. The leader’s primary task at this stage is to give them the best possible start and make them feel at ease.
Bayt’s leadership tips at this stage:
- Be as clear and open as can be about your goals.
- State specifically what the exact tasks of the team will be before moving on to explain the specific task for each team member.
- Shed light on the rules and the guidelines to be abided by.
- Maintain an open communication channel: this will encourage team members to share their queries and concerns, if any.
- Stage 2: Storming: This is a tricky phase that usually results because rules and roles become somewhat unclear to team members despite the fact that they have been briefed during the forming stage. The actual truth is that every team member is now looking for a way to link the team’s goals to his own individual goals and agenda. The leader’s skills are put to test here as the team is in need of clear direction and support.
Bayt’s leadership tips at this stage:
- Gather the team together and get things out in the open.
- Make sure to go over the overall team goals with individuals and understand what this means to every individual.
- Stage 3: Norming: This is the “acceptance” phase: goals are now comprehended, responsibilities are clarified and relationships have solidified.
The leader’s role at this stage is to ensure the smooth continuity of the process and the avoidance of any potential challenges.
leadership tips at this stage:
- Provide guidance to team members, one on one, to help them see where they stand in relation to the team’s goals and their individual goals.
- Once they feel confident of their capabilities, start allocating additional tasks in anticipation of the “performing” phase.
- Stage 4: Performing: This is the “concentration” phase: team members have set their minds to work towards team goals in order to reap the benefits of getting there. They can now identify their strong and their weak points and can focus on developing themselves. All members who have made it to this stage will witness the birth of “team loyalty”. The leader’s role at this stage is to grant team members the opportunity to become self-directive while he focuses on the next step forward.
Bayt.com’s leadership tips at this stage:
- Give team members space and be more of a coach than a director.
- Encourage greater responsibilities that entail leadership roles.
- Recognize a team job well done and reward both team and individuals.
- Stage 5: Adjourning: This represents the final stage of the development process. Tasks have been completed, goals have been reached and this is sometimes considered as a “mourning” stage for both team members and leaders, but is actually the start of a new beginning.
Bayt.com’s 5 Tips to Build an Effective Work Team:
- Promote first-class leadership: A good leader not only focuses on the corporate team goals but makes the effort to encourage other team members to share his vision by infusing the team with positive morale and strong motivation levels.
- Promote open communication channels: This will allow team members to share their views, ideas and concerns amongst each other and with their leaders. Collective wisdom can be a very useful pool to tap into.
- Provide accurate descriptions for individual roles: It is necessary to clearly communicate to all team members what every individual’s scope of responsibility will be. This will keep the team focused and in sync.
- Set the best example for your team: Lecturing team members about values and ethics is not fruitful if the leader and upper management is not abiding by the same. Show commitment, persistence, and integrity and your team members will follow: “Struggle and adaptation are critical, difficult, but very necessary parts of team development", state Robbins and Finley (coauthors of best selling business book “Why Teams Don’t Work”, winner of Financial Times the Best Management Book of the Year in the Americas)
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