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Transforming Groups to Teams

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.

Teams are becoming a key tool for organizing work in today’s corporate world. Teams have the potential to immediately amass, organize, relocate, and disperse. But, teams are an effective tool of employee motivation. It is essential to consider the fact that teams develop and get mature over a period of time. Team development creates a captivating atmosphere by encouraging co-operation, teamwork, interdependence and by building trust among team members.

The four stages of team development are:

Stage 1: Forming

During this stage, group members may be anxious and adopt wait-and-see attitude. They will be formal towards each other. There would be no clear idea of goals or expectations. Besides, they may not be sure why they are there.

This is the stage where the team needs to write its own charter or mission statement as well as clarify goals. The most important thing here is that goals must have a personal buy-in.

By doing this the team will be able to establish boundaries as well as determine what is expected. Team members will get to know each other doing non-conflict laden task. This builds the commitment towards one larger goal.

Thus, during the forming stage, the team members are in process of knowing each other and getting at ease with them.

Stage 2: Storming

During this stage, team members are eager to get going. Conflict can arise as people tend to bring different ideas of how to accomplish goals. At this time, they notice differences rather than similarities. This leads to some members dropping out mentally or physically.

At this stage, communication is important. Tensions will increase. So recognizing and publicly acknowledging accomplishments also become important. It becomes important to participate in meetings and diversity needs to be valued.

Thus, during the storming stage, the team members begin showing their actual styles. They start getting impatient. They try to probe into each other’s area, leading to irritation and frustration. Control becomes the key concern during this stage.

Stage 3: Norming

This stage is when people begin to recognize ways in which they are alike. They realize that they are in this together. Hence, they tend to get more social and may forget their focus in favour of having a good time. This is the time to help with training if applicable. It becomes important to encourage them in order to feel comfortable with each other and with systems. Also, the group needs to stay focused on goal.

Thus, during the norming stage, there is conflict resolution. There is greater involvement of team members. There is a greater “we” feeling rather than “I” feeling.

Stage 4: Performing

This stage is when team members are trained, competent, as well as able to do their own problem-solving. At this time, ways need to be looked at in order to challenge them as well as develop them. The team is mature now. The members understand their roles and responsibilities. They would require more input in processes. The members would be self-motivated as well as self-trained. Thus, their efforts need to be recognised. Growth has to be encouraged. This is done by giving new challenges to the team.

Thus, teams at the stage of performing are self-controlling, practical, loyal as well as productive. Focus is there on both performance as well as production.

Forming an Effective Team

This is the general approach to forming a successful work team. But not all will take the same steps as discussed above. Success is usually hinged on taking all of the steps just discussed. We have a tendency to want to surround ourselves with people who are just like us. In case you get to choose a team, instead of organizing a pre-formed team, then you’ll look for a team of people with a variety of strengths. In case of a team that is already in place, organizing can be more subtle. Like, all the workgroups can be called together in order to discuss what goals you want to accomplish and how everybody can help.

You will also find that imposing goals on people doesn’t work nearly as well as having them tell you as to what goals they will strive for. But setting goals is not easy work. Too often they end up in being too unrealistic, too vague, impossible to measure, or just stretching into eternity without any deadline.

Management is essential in every walk of life. Even what we eat should be managed. You just can’t put anything in your mouth. One needs to be cautious. In the same way, a team must be managed effectively to expect the best from the team members. The team leader plays an essential role in managing his team well.

For effective team management, it is important that the team leader is more of a mentor to his team members rather than just being a strict boss. Understand your team members well. Gone are the days when people used to fear their bosses. Now a days employees share a healthy relation with their superiors and the comfort level has increased to a large extent. Don’t impose things on them.

Ensure that each and every team member willingly participates in team discussions. Debates are important, but make sure you don’t end up fighting with each other. Suggestions must be invited from all and do not discuss issues separately with individuals. Call every one on an open forum and formulate strategies keeping in mind every body’s inputs. Poilcies should be made best suited to all. The objective of the team must be clearly set and circulated among all the team members. Everyone should be aware of his roles and responsibilities in the team.

Communication among the team members must be clear and transparent for an effective team management. Every team member should get the same information and should have an easy access to the superiors in case of any query.

The team members must not pass on any information to anyone outside the team. Learn to keep things to yourself. It is unethical to share your professional secrets with others. Don’t leak information or any confidential data.

The team members must be motivated on a regular basis. Appreciation is a must. If any team member has performed extraordinarily, do give him a pat on his back. Performance appraisals, perks, incentives, trophies, prizes are all instrumental in motivating the team members to perform even better the next time. Avoid criticizing any of your team members.

Loose talks, blame games, dirty politics should find no place in the team. They spoil the environment and people lose interest in their work and organization. If you come to know anything about someone, it’s better to discuss with him face to face, else ignore.

It is easy to create a team but it is actually difficult to bind the team members together and even make them work. Team management techniques help in strengthening the bond among the employees and creating an environment where they can trust each other. People actually become friends and start working together as a result of team management activities.

Once you know the type of team you are in, it will help you choose how to plan your work and what you can expect as outcomes. There are various types of teams. In this article we are going to discuss the five most common ones.

1. The Traditional Model

This is a group of people with a traditional boss. The boss also shares some of his/her responsibility as well as authority. How much is being shared by the boss is usually dependent on the issues under consideration. This traditional boss is in charge. Bust still, on certain issues, this person may allow his other team members to take on the leadership role.

2. The Team Spirit Model

This is a group of people who are working for one boss. The team members are very happy and everything seems to be going well. There is team spirit in people. The fact remains that in reality this is not really a team. This is because there is one person who calls all the shots. Besides, there is no sharing of authority or responsibility.

3. The Cutting Edge Model

This is a group of people who are managing themselves. There is no single person in this group who has the authority to make any such decisions about the events which will impact the whole group. This is also known as a self-directed work team. This is because each one has the authority as well as responsibility for all the decisions that they need to make.

4. The Task Force Model

This refers to a group that comes together for a specific time only. This is because it has to work on a special project or a task. Such a group has traditionally been called a task force or a committee. This may also include quality circles as are used in TQM efforts.

5. The Cyber Team

In such a team model, members see one another rarely or even, not at all. These are also known as “cyber” or “virtual” teams. What makes these teams different is that the team has to work together in order to accomplish goals, but they may be meeting only at the beginning of their project. Post that, they may be interacting through e-mail, telephone or through video conferencing only.

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