Ombuds’ Insight: Teams
A simple definition of a team is a group of individuals organized to work together. When teams marshal their individual talents, skills, knowledge and experience, better decisions and outcomes are expected. Today, organizations face enormous challenges — including competition in an ever-changing market — requiring that all available resources be optimized.
Within organizations, managers are being asked to find new ways to accomplish goals, often with dwindling resources. Jobs are changing and organizational leaders are experimenting with new approaches to business. The traditional style of directive management is less effective as work becomes more complex, information needs increase and the effort for quality and customer satisfaction requires more participation and involvement of everyone in the organization. Teaming has become a standard management approach to drastic changes forced upon the workplace.
Teaming is a fairly loose concept in many organizations, often referring to any group of individuals assigned to work together. The movement toward teams represents an increased awareness and acknowledgment that people involvement may be a key to improved productivity, competitive survival and personal satisfaction. When the team comes together, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, output must increase.
However, the enjoyment people derive from a group work effort should also be greater than what would be expected given the nature of the work itself. This synergy is a highly desirable result of successful teaming, and the trend of more involvement of everyone in the team has resulted in the need for members to work together more collaboratively.
The team should have a purpose for working together, such as, to win a prize, increase productivity or develop a new product. That purpose must be articulated in a clear and understandable way and shared and supported by all team members. Managers should not regard teams as structures but as behaviors; people who unite to accomplish the mission. All teams must have leadership, and people who assume that role and risk of leadership should guide, mentor and support the unit while building bridges with outside components. Teamwork is a cooperative effort with interdependence of its members. This means they need each other’s experience, capability, and commitment to be successful. When a team is committed to itself, it works best.
All teams have a unique personality resulting from the uniqueness of the individual members composing it. Combinations or blending of certain traits we possess as individuals is the alchemy that good managers mix in the workshop. People are different, and that contributes to the strength of the team. A manager’s understanding and appreciation of these differences can increase the effectiveness of the team. An effective team requires more than putting a group of people together and told to get the job done.