The nature of teams may be changing, but the underlying nature and benefits of teams are not. Teams are becoming more numerous and complex, with one person often being a member of a number of teams in an organization. Recent discussions have highlighted.
These team structures are in addition to the formal organizational unit structure where team members reside. They are expected to use teamwork to complete the functional aspects of their positions along with their colleagues in the same organizational unit.
Some norms are more-or-less universal among working groups, or within a particular organization. But there may also be norms specific to the team, so as a newcomer, you’ll want to learn them quickly. This is one of the purposes of training—whether it’s Boot Camp in the military, corporate training, or multi-day employee orientation when you start a new job.
- In one medium sized organization, formal management responsibilities being assigned to teams of people from different parts of the organization. Instead of having formal positions for specific functions (human resources, health and safety, etc), a committee structure has been created and successfully implemented. This helps ensure that the responsibility and accountability for these important functions is shared between a number of people.
- In one technology based company, product and system implementations for different clients require different parts of the organization to provide services. Consequently, the project team can be very different for each client, depending on the expertise required. Team members may be based locally, in Australia or other parts of the world.
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE GOOD TEAMWORK?
Good teamwork starts with a shared understanding of its importance. Many organizations recruit people with an aptitude for and leaning towards teamwork. Their induction process emphasizes it. The way teams work demonstrates it. Although team members have clear and designated responsibilities, they help others when required. Good teamwork behavior is recognized and rewarded. Teamwork is built into the organization culture – it is a part of ‘the way we do things around here’.
SENSE OF BELONGING
In another services company, staff find themselves working in multiple teams at the same time. At any given part of the year, the number of projects can range from two to six, depending on the current client assignments.
But suppose you create or join a brand new team at its inception? At some point, you’ll have to get together and establish your new team’s norms. This can happen on the fly with on-the-job training; the norms may even be unwritten, understood implicitly by all. But I find it more logical to establish a formal set of team norms as soon as possible. Ideally, your leader will sit you all down at a meeting before you get too far; you can suggest it if not. Shoot for these foundations.
STEPS IN ACHIVING SENSE OF BELONGING.
- Solid communication. Communicate concisely and cleanly, with acknowledgement of each communication. If you can’t fulfill a request, give an estimate for completion. a minimum. Don’t “reply all” if you aren’t adding to conversation with information that does indeed apply to all.
- Mutual respect. Establish this from the start. Everyone has a place on the team for a reason and has their own specialized knowledge. No one is more or less important than anyone else on the team.
- Meeting guidelines. Begin and end the meeting on time. Work from an agenda distributed several days before. Establish rules of order. Use a facilitator. Take minutes. Don’t hog the floor. Don’t talk just to hear yourself talk. Avoid side conversations.
- Decision-making. What decisions will the leader make? Which ones need team input? Will we make major decisions by consensus or majority? Will the team give input and the leader makes the final decision?
- Self-review. Meet occasionally to review your collective performance and productivity. Review processes to determine how to save time. Review relevant metrics and indicators. Always seek ways to save time individually and collectively.
- Conflict resolution. Determine ways to directly resolve conflict between individuals, varying according to the level of conflict. Remember: you may require some friction and debate for effective decision-making, so don’t automatically reach for conflict resolution procedures when things get a little heated.
Celebration. Having a small party or presenting awards after a successful task or project helps establish team solidarity. When it’s not excessive, socializing is necessary for bonding and relationship building.
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