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1. Team Building- Introduction
Teams that are not related to a working environment usually are formed around a common set of thoughts, beliefs and clear objective thoughts tries to be a part of such a team, he would realize soon that he/she does not belong in that term, as there will be conflict of personalities. These members soon quite the team. This tutorial is designed to give an insight into the teambuilding processes and explaining how to share information with individual members of a team.
For the teams to arrive at a consensus decision, it is very important that the manager creates an environment where everyone’s opinion is heard. However, in achieve this feat because aggressive and assertive people tend to get the most attention.
This tutorial is designed for managers who have been assigned a new team, often comprising of people for whom it will be their first time as a working professional. Many issues of ego, immaturity and insecurity prop up in such teams, so the manager needs to astutely deal with the young team.
Before proceeding with this tutorial, you are expected to know the basics of organizational structure and the working model of your company.
2. Teams in a Working Environment
Teams that are not related to a working environment usually are formed around a common set of thoughts, beliefs and clear objectives. When a person with opposing thoughts tries to be a part of such a team, he would realize soon that he/she doesn’t belong in that tea, as there will be a conflict of personalities. These members will soon quit the team. However, the working dynamics are very different with workplace teams. In the workplace, it is almost a norm for a manager to get people with completely different temperaments,
some of which are-
• Belief System
• Motivating Factors
• Code of Ethics
• Career Goals
• Personality Traits
It might appear to an outsider that developing a team out of such different people is a recipe for disaster. However, it is a miracle that the best organizations in the world thrive on people with characteristics as far from one-another as possible, working together in complete harmony and synchronization.
To understand how this possible, it’s important to identity the common core that drives a team. There are three kinds of teams that have three very different ways of functioning. Depending on their working style, their managers chalk out a common program for all the members, which then is used as a motivating factor by each of the members in these teams.
There are three such types of teams-
• Multi-Disciplinary Project Team
• Ongoing-Process Project Team
• Strategic Planning Project Team
Let’s us now discuss each of these teams in detail
Multi-Disciplinary Project Team
In these teams, people from different fields of expertise collect together to complete a given task. Such tasks generally involve many functions, so often many individual teams working on one project are asked to come together as one single team for better coordination. As such a team is formed on special occasions, it doesn’t have one reporting authority, so the person who is assigned the responsibility to manage them doesn’t have total managerial control over it.
Ongoing-Process Project Team
This kind of a team is comprised of people working in one process for a long period time. The team members are familiar with all scenarios and have also gained experience and expertise in handling these issues.
In such cases, the job of a manager is basically limited to providing supervision, authorizing certain processes and providing team support and motivation. He doesn’t need to be worried about the functioning of the team in itself, simply because the members of the team have been working in the process for long.
Strategic Planning Project Team
In such projects, the goals of the team keep changing all the time, depending on the scenarios and conditions they are working under. The team members have the liberty of not reporting directly to the team manager.
In such teams, scenarios and possible outcomes are discussed in detail and all team members have to be involved in this preemptive planning. These teams work on the principle of collecting prior information and later implementation.
3. Team Leadership
There was a time when a team leader was selected. Nowadays, team leaders are elected. There is a humongous change in the attitude between both the approaches. Earlier, people who used to perform the best, had a go-getter attitude and had natural leading abilities were automatically promoted as team leaders by the management. However, the tea leaders nowadays aren’t selected by the management, but are elected by the members of the team themselves.
Today’s person whom the rest of the team unanimously, or in majority, vote as the one they are most comfortable working under is elected the team leader. In short, the focus has shifted from individual performance to group dynamics and impersonal skills.
The reason behind this is while a good performer as the team leader will inspire the rest of the team to also do well, the team leader himself might be too obsessed with the team performance to be worried about the team members themselves. Also, because of his good record, he might himself not be familiar with failure, so when people in his team don’t deliver, he would mistake their genuine failure as either indiscipline or willful deviance.
An elected team leader, on the other hand, will share a personal equation with all of his teammates, which gives him a good insight into their strengths and weakness. When the time of delegating responsibilities comes he will know whom to assign what work. The selected team-leader will rather hand over
responsibilities as per his whims and fancies, and them compel people to provide good results. As he himself is a good performer, he would deem every work doable by everyone else too, so people will naturally hesitate in telling him that they aren’t good in particular field.
In today’s world, if a person wants to be successful as team leader, then he needs to ask himself a couple of fundamental questions-
• What leadership does my team want and what type of leader will inspire them?
• What changes I need to make in my attitude, personality, and behavior to be that person?
In such teams, it’s common to find one person responsible for the completion of a task walking up to the expert on that task in their team, who in-turn might have been assigned a different task!
4. Constituent Factors of a Good Team
In a cross-functional project team, the size of the team is directly related to the number of different functions that are supposed to be carried out. In such scenarios, the manager needs to focus more on getting the best out of the large team, instead of worrying about functional control.
In some teams, the members will be resources of such high expertise and experience, that are answerable to only the higher management. So much so that even their reward system will be decided by the higher management and not the team manager. A team manager here needs to fulfill the duty of being the coordinator and the person to keep all parallel processes running smoothly.
Team Building Steps
Many such similar situations might crop up in a diverse working scenario, so the team manager need to realize that the sooner he stops trying to build an ideal team, and starts working on applying basic team building principles to the team he has, the better it is for his team’s performance.
A few basic team building steps are given below-
• Defining Success Criteria and Rewarding it
• Defining Team Principles
• Valuing All Contributions
• Leading by Example
These team building steps will certainly help in easing out any situation in diverse working scenarios.
5. Defining Success Criteria
When a manager stands in front of his team and says that he wants them to succeed, he needs to first tell them what he understands success as. In absence of a clear definition of what success means to the team manager, the team-members might easily feel satisfied with their output, even if it’s an underachievement by the managers standards.
For these reasons, it’s essential for the manager to clearly define and communicate the team members of the team to get a realistic, quantifiable and measurable idea of the goal, irrespective of their individual skillsets and experience levels.
The manager need to check if the team is meeting these success levels weekly, by monitoring and reviewing the team performance on a weekly basis, and sharing feedback. However, with some other teams, like strategic teams, the objective are not always fixed, clearly defined and measurable.
In such cases, team members often get demotivated and bored. In some cases, managers also try and set unrealistically high targets for their teams, knowing fully well that such targets are unachievable, just for the reason of extracting the maximum effort from their team.
Let us take the example of a team working on providing customer service on credit cards to their customers. Now, the peak hours of calling are generally from 9 in the morning till 11, and then again from 3 in the afternoon till 5.
In these hours, the call volumes are so high that even if the agents start wrapping up calls as fast as they can, some customers might still be found queueing for their chance to speak to the customer executive even after several minutes.
The ideal solution in such a scenario is to double the workforce. However, the logistics won’t agree and the solution might not fly by the management, who would be clearly wary of the huge initial overhead expenses.
6. Rewarding Group Success
A manager generally has the ability and authority to reward the high-performing team members of his teams, if he is directly responsible for his team. However, these rewards may have some limitations or maybe perceived in the team as delivering limited satisfaction.
The reason behind this is the ability of awarding the truly motivating and influential rewards lie with the higher management. These rewards include salary hikes, monetary perks, etc. The management and they in turn depend on the organizational structure. However, many times, a manager will have some teammates who associate with his team on freelance or contractual obligations. Even if these people are not a part of
the organization, their performance will be the sole responsibility of the manger.
These people can be motivated through non-monetary rewards, like the promise to secure more work for them from your organization if they fare well in the current task. These people pay a great value on securing
more work and employment, so even if they don’t get any monetary increments, they still get motivated to work, so that they can be recommended for other such assignments.
Everything said and done, the truth is that in big organizations, the sheer complexity and diversity of their functioning and working processes makes it tough to reward the entire team satisfactorily.
So, in situations where a manager is trying to offer a suitable reward to the team, he needs to first take a note of the contribution and efforts of his team. Depending on their involvement in the team, the different members can be rewarded by-
• Special mentioning of their names in the management’s performance repot praising their efforts.
• Listings team’s achievements in meetings, to make team-mates realize their efforts are acknowledged.
• Requesting a member from the board or higher management to praise the teams performance.
• Organizing a team fair, dinner or outings for team-members to celebrate their success.
It is important to note that the amount of money spent in such treats is of far less importance as compared to the morale liftings that people in the team will get from seeing their efforts are being rewarded.
7. Leading by Example
A manager needs to realize that the team members that he is now managing have seen him as one of them till recently. To earn respect in their minds, he needs to lead by example and demonstrate his competencies that convinces them that he is a good manager.
A very effective method to break the HE vs. Us attitude that the team most often nurtures against a team manager is by unofficially handling over to them some control on their workings and functioning, even if the team members don’t have any of these powers of autonomy in writing as their duties or responsibilities.