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How to Manage Teamwork

by Tony Guerra

A lot of organizations believe in the team-based approach to achieving their objectives. Managers in team-based organizations, or TBOs, try to create teams based on mutual trust and employee empowerment in planning, organization and goal-setting, as well as shared responsibility for self-management. Of course, creating and managing a team, including building an environment where teamwork is appreciated, takes some effort on the part of a manager. Fortunately, several effective methods for managing teamwork activities among employees are available to managers.

Instilling a Teamwork Outlook

Teams are useful in organizations where task interdependence, or the need to rely on others to get the entire job done, is high. In a contemporary TBO, teamwork is eagerly sought so that the organization can be lean and flexible, increasing work output through the combined efforts of its teams. Team-based organization managers should also strive to encourage a team outlook among assigned work groups. Managers in team-based organizations can create a teamwork outlook among their people by intelligently leading and managing their work.

Leading and Managing a Team

If you want to successfully lead and manage a work team, select the right individuals with the right mix of skills. Second, before your team takes on its first assignment, make sure it receives training in team building, conflict management and how to solicit and give feedback. As a manager, begin leading and managing your team by getting it the resources and support it needs. Also, when managing teamwork, give the team authority to do things in the ways it's determined work best.

Determine Appropriateness and Eliminate Conflicts

As a manager, never just create a team and then step aside to let it wander aimlessly. A crucial requirement in managing teamwork is to first determine if the task given to the team is an appropriate one for a team approach, because some tasks simply aren't. To effectively manage teamwork, you also need to realize that your team members always have individual responsibilities too. Good managers of teamwork consistently see to it that individual team members' responsibilities don't conflict with assigned team responsibilities.

Maintain a Good Feedback Loop

Overspecialization in a work team -- when members lock themselves into specific duties and only those duties -- can, unfortunately, arise. When you're managing a work team, for example, and a member is out sick, check on whether the tasks assigned to the member are being handled. Also, as you're managing teamwork, provide consistent objective and fair feedback to members. The ultimate goal of a work team is to generate a desired output, and feedback is vital to that effort.

About the Author

Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.

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