The nature of many business problems means that teams, rather than individuals, must accomplish some objectives. In these cases, it's necessary to bring a group together with the time, skills and expertise to accomplish the variety of tasks needed to achieve those goals. Effective teamwork requires that team members share particular attributes, including a commitment to shared objectives and a sense of responsibility for the team's performance.
Effective teamwork depends on the team members' skills, which enable them to make a direct contribution to the accomplishment of goals. For this reason, an employee's weekly schedule, writing skills, functional role and technical skills are considered before he is assigned to a team. In addition, leaders of successful teams inform team members of their specific roles and the expectations regarding their personal contributions to team processes. Leadership also reinforces the right behaviors by promoting employees who exhibit the behaviors that are important to team success.
A successful team is motivated and committed to achieve at the highest level. Team leaders set and enforce high performance goals and engage workers in decision-making. In turn, team members adopt shared goals and are dedicated to the success of the team. As a result, team members become more engaged in work processes and solving problems, and more enthusiastic about their work.
The members of effective teams are able to select the appropriate approach to communicate ideas, thoughts and feelings to other team members. The members are adept in using verbal and nonverbal communication to listen, persuade, and express and defend ideas. Individual team members also foster open communication by being trustworthy and respectful of other group members, and seeking opportunities to provide one another support. For example, leaders of effective teams practice “walk-around” management seeking and giving authentic feedback and receiving constructive criticism.
Members of valuable teams commit to team processes and are accountable for their personal contribution to the achievement of team objectives. Leaders clearly, consistently and repetitively articulate the value of individual contributions to specific team's objectives. Leaders also tailor rewards and recognition programs to the motivational needs of individual employees. Leaders also tell team members what is expected and how they are performing. In turn, team members learn group processes, employ best practices and are receptive to new ideas. Accountable team members also actively participate in shared decision-making and problem solving.
For teams to work effectively, leadership creates a positive and cooperative environment in which team members collaborate to accomplish work objectives more effectively and efficiently than would be possible if individuals worked alone. To enforce the cooperative environment, leaders demonstrate empathy and concern for the team members. Team members then work with and encourage one another to contribute and learn. For example, workers ask team members what they think and leaders enact an “open door” policy.
- Don Murray and Associates: Characteristics of Effective Teams
- Team Building: The Unique Characteristics of an Effective Team
- Nondestructive Testing Resource Center: Teamwork in the Classroom
- Entrepreneur: How to Foster Effective Teamwork
- U. S. Office of Personnel Management: Performance Management - Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes For Effective Teams
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