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Team Building Basics

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 15 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Team Skills Roles Working Relationships

A team can be described as a collection of individuals who come together to work towards a common goal. If the team is made up of the right mix of talented people, with the required knowledge, skills and attitudes to accomplish the tasks in front of them, there is a good chance a top-performing team will emerge.

The development of a team starts with its formation. Individual team members will begin to get to know one another but will tend to be polite and non committal early on. Soon enough, however, individuals within the developing team will try to prove themselves. This is when conflicts and arguments can erupt, as individuals test roles and responsibilities, struggle for control and look to establish a position within the team.

As roles and responsibilities start to become a little bit clearer, conflict can give way to problem solving. Individuals will begin to contribute to the whole team effort, working relationships and practices are established and some success is achieved.

Efficient And Effective

Once all the roles, responsibilities, working practices and relationships within the team are established and all the individual members are contributing, a team can complete tasks efficiently and effectively and almost manage itself.

Communication is crucial if a team is to succeed. There is a greater need for interdependence in a team, so there is a greater need for good communication. Poor communication skills, protocols and practices can impede a team’s ability significantly, as can competition between team members and ineffective working relationships.

Team managers must be able to sense what is impacting team performance and have the ability to address inter-personal issues that often lead to conflict and can negatively impact on team performance. Understanding how to react and be proactive during the team’s development is crucial.

If a team is described as a collection of individuals who come together to work towards a common goal then, in simple terms, team building can be described as the process that enables the collection of individuals to reach their goal. The manager’s role is to:

  • Clarify the collective goals.
  • Identify any inhibitors that prevent the team from reaching its goals.
  • Remove those inhibitors.
  • Put in place enablers to assist the team.
  • Measure and monitor progress to ensure goals are achieved.
There is no magic formula for building a team and teams are organic – they will grow and change through time. Nevertheless, by studying how individuals, groups and teams work, a manager can enhance his ability to help teams work together more effectively.

If a team is to develop, it will require individual team members to grow and develop. Improving a team will require a combination of improving work skills, understanding of others, communication and negotiation skills as well as problem-solving skills.

Eventually, the time may come when a manager has to disband a team. He must respect the connections and relationships team members have established and it is important to formally recognise the team’s accomplishments. Remember that true teams share in the rewards and consequences of their work.

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