Understanding Team – What is a Team ?
Let us first go through a simple real life situation.
John was working as a key accounts head with a leading advertising firm. He had four members reporting to him. Unfortunately he always under estimated his team members and fought with them constantly. He could never trust them and always thought they were incapable of doing good work. One fine day, he got some major assignment from one of his clients which was to be submitted within two working days. He decided to do it all alone as he thought nobody else could do it apart from him. John could never submit his assignment on the required day and received good criticism from his superiors. His organization also lost one of their major and prestigious clients.
Why do you think John failed ? Why could he not complete his assignment on time ?
Here comes the importance of a team. Had John taken the help of his team members, he would have finished his assignment on time and everyone would have appreciated him.
An individual cannot perform all tasks on his own. He needs the support as well as guidance of others to be excellent in whatever he does. Complex goals can easily be accomplished if individuals work together as a team.
What is a team ?
A team is a group of individuals, all working together for a common purpose. The individuals comprising a team ideally should have common goals, common objectives and more or less think on the same lines. Individuals who are not compatible with each other can never form a team. They should have similar if not the same interests, thought processes, attitude, perception and likings.
Difference between Group and Team
A group is not necessarily a team. A group can have individuals with varied interests, attitude as well as thought processes. It is not necessary that the group members would have a common objective or a common goal to achieve.
What happens in a political rally ? The political leader appeals to the individuals to cast the votes in his favour only. Do you think all of them would cast the votes in favour of the leader ? There would always be some individuals who would support his opponent. This is example of a group. All individuals gathered on a common platform but had dissimilar interests and likings. Some were in favour of the leader while some against.
A team must have individuals with a common objective to achieve. They should all work together and strive towards the achievement of a common goal.
The team members must complement each other. All team members should help each other and work in unison. Personal interests must take a back seat and all of them must deliver their level best to achieve the team objective. Team members must not argue among themselves or underestimate the other member.
Organizations have a sales team, administration team, human resources team operation team and so on. All the members of the sales team would work together to achieve the sales target and generate revenues for the organization.
The team size depends on the complexity of the task to be accomplished. Ideally an effective team should consist of 7-10 members. Too many members also lead to confusions and misunderstandings.
It is not always that we require a team. Teams should be formed when the task is a little complicated. A single brain can sometimes not take all critical decisions alone, thus a team is formed where the team members contribute equally making the task easy. An effective team can actually create wonders if all the team members work in unison.
Building an Effective Team
Having goals or a clear purpose is important to each of us. In fact, people who set goals are always more successful than the others.
For leaders who are serious about setting goals, some things are to be kept in mind. These goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and with Timelines. Besides, for any organization, goals should also be expressed positively. And for a team, goals need to be personalized for each member of the team. All these goals should be put in writing, where you as well as the team can see them often.
Once you sit down with your team and set some goals, it can be very useful to develop some kind of action plan for accomplishing that goal.
- Informality as well as Participation: In order to build an effective team, the climate has to be informal, comfortable, as well as relaxed. There should be no tension or any signs of boredom. Teams enjoy getting together, they interact easily. There should be lots of good-natured kidding and laughter. Have seating arrangements in order to facilitate this. A circle is the best seating arrangement usually, while a typical classroom arrangement is the worst.
- Listening: A highly efficient team has team members who use effective listening techniques. These include questioning, paraphrasing, as well as summarizing in order to get out ideas. Listening is the most effective factor that distinguishes effective teams from ineffective teams. This is a highly important subject which needs to be discussed in detail in another article.The ability to really listen is a highly important skill. Each team member has to have it. Listening lets you understand what the other person is saying. Besides, it shows the other person that you’re interested in what he/she has to say. But all of us experience common listening problems.We tend to let our attention wander. Our mind drifts away. We start thinking about the time, or other tasks at hand. This way we lose our concentration.
We miss the real point of what is being said. We may end up focusing on the personality of the speaker. Else we may let our judgment of the person based on past experiences come in the way. Or, we may be trying hard to look for hidden messages and lose out on the crux of the conversation.
Our emotions interfere with our judgment. This takes away our focus from what is being said. Our judgment of the person interferes with our understanding of what is being said.
We tend to interrupt and step on the statements of others. This way we don’t listen to what is being said. Besides, there is a tendency to think ahead to what we want to say next and miss out on what’s being said right now. It is important to use the steps of active listening in order to be a good listener.
There are many facets of building an effective team. Having an informal atmosphere as well as listening skills are some of them.