Definition of a Team: A group of people who work together toward common goals and objectives.
Organizations use teams to: Make work more productive. Allow work to be undertaken by interdisciplinary groups of people. Meet the needs of clients in a holistic rather than a fragmented way. To eliminate harmful effects of organization hierarchies and empower staff.
Stages of Team Development (Perlmutter, Bailey, & Netting, p. 132) Stage 1. Dependency on the leader; Concerns about who is included on the team and the rules for team governance. Stage 2. Counter dependency and fight. Group seeks to free itself from dependency on the leader. Stage 3. Trust and Structure. Focus on resolving conflicts and tasks accomplishment. Cooperation, negotiation, and open communication. Stage 4. Work and Productivity. Goals are achieved. Stage 5. Termination. Assessment of the Work Accomplished.
Critical tasks for building effective teams Selecting and Orienting Team Members. Ensuring Open Communication Building Mutual Trust and Support Managing Differences
Researchers have identified the following attributes of effective teams: Sundstrom (1999) defines team effectiveness in terms of the extent to which a work team meets the performance expectations of key counterpartsmanagers, customers, and otherswhile continuing to meet members expectations of working with the team (p. 10). Lewandowski and GlenMaye (2002) argue that effective teams are those in which: professionals are aware of and have respect for model differences, and in which assumptions about good professional functioning and team interaction are understood and reconciled (p. 25). Wheelan (1999) defines high performance teams are cohesive and cooperative work units that can engage in problem-solving. Mohrman et al. (1995) identify three factors associated with effective team decision-making: high levels of coordination, the ability to make decisions in a timely manner, and a high level of personal self-efficacy among staff members
Research also confirms that team approaches can be effective for empowering staff and increasing feels of autonomy and self-efficacy: Kirkman and Rosen (1999) found that with sufficient management support, the provision of performance-related awards, and access to information, team members as a group will feel empowered. They also found that feelings of team empowerment increased the level of productivity for the team as a whole, stimulated employee initiative, and improved customer service. Team membership contributes to the ability of organization staff to adopt service innovations and practice principles (Allen, Foster- Fishman, & Salem, 2002). A high degree of task and goal interdependence among team members increases job satisfaction, reduces conflict, and increases cooperation among staff members (Van der Verg, Emans, & Van de Vliert, 2001).
Bailey (1998) identifies stages, behaviors, tasks, and skills of team development StagesBehaviorsLeaders Tasks Leaders Skills FormingQuestioning groups purpose Identification as in- group or team members Obeying leader Long periods of silence Provide structure & boundaries Setting the direction For the group Solicit opinions Awareness of a personal leadership style Good communication Knowledge of the fit between the teams task and organizational goals
Stages, Behaviors, Tasks, & Skills (continued ). StagesMembers Behaviors Leaders Tasks Leaders Skills StormingExpressing opinions & disagreements Developing individual power; Challenge leader Form cliques & bonds Discuss process Model self awareness Provide resources to finish tasks Develop Group norms Manage differences Be aware of strengths/ weaknesses Use process & content
Interdisciplinary teams Teams inside the organization or within collaborative arrangements among several organizations include professionals across a number of different disciplines. These teams help decrease service fragmentation and address the whole needs of clients. In organizations, they also help bring workers of different status together and consequently can increase productivity and commitment to the organization
Problems with interdisciplinary teams: Professional turf battles among workers. Lack of communication due to differences in professional philosophy, status, and values. A team that focuses on conflict rather than work.
Brownsteins model of effective interdisciplinary collaboration: Interdependence among team members. Team ownership of goals, Flexibility or the capacity to alter member roles in response to situational demands, The ability to reflect on group processes, The development of new professional activities by the team that build on the existing strengths and expertise of each member.
Additional Problems with Team Functioning Team members may have incompatible goals or levels of commitment Team members may have hidden agendas that interfere with the process. Someone may not be a team player Team may lack a clear direction or a sense of purpose. The leader may not be focused on the task or not be concerned about outcomes or group functioning. Inexperience with teams may hinder the process. The organization may not give full support to the team. Unappreciated and unsupported teams may disintegrate.
Skills for Team Leaders The leader must serve as a link between organization or unit managers and team members. Often the leader is responsible for informing the members about the purpose of the team and present a rationale for their recruitment to the team (Perlmutter, et al., 2001). The leader is also responsible for scheduling meetings, finding an appropriate meeting space, and developing agendas. The leader must also be able to assign appropriate tasks to each team member and ensure that the work is distributed equitably (Reese & Sontag, 2001). He or she must also be an advocate for the team securing any additional resources from the management that are needed to ensure the effectiveness of the team The team leader is also responsible for actually running the group. A feeling of psychological safety among team members also contributes to the ability of team member to learn new tasks and improve their performance. Edmonson (1999) defines psychological safety as a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking (p. 350). Critical tasks for building effective teams include selecting and orienting team members, ensuring open communication, building mutual trust and support, and managing differences among members (Perlmutter et al., 2001). Team leaders should also be instrumental in fostering knowledge of and respect for the skills and values of the different professional disciplines that seat on inter-disciplinary teams (Reese & Sontag, 2001). Team leaders must be able to work with the group to create appropriate ground rules that specify how and when individual members should engage with clients and provide services.
Training Team Members Provide information on group processes including goal setting, and the provision and use of feedback on group performance. Inform members about the professional skills and values of each discipline represented on the team in order to prevent turf battles among members. Provide information about how to conduct effective meetings, interpersonal communication skills, collaboration, and diversity.
Other types of team structures: Virtual teams. Converting organization structure from a hierarchy to a total team approach.
References Bailey, D. (1998). Designing & sustain meaningful teams. In Edwards, Yankey, & Altpeter. Skills for effective management of nonprofit organizations. Perlmutter, F., Bailey, D., & Netting, E. (2001). New York: Oxford University Press.