In recent years the emphasis has shifted from the individual improvement to cooperative activities among the work teams and groups. Globalization of works, downsizing of the manpower and growth of technological efficiency have all contributed to this. The trend has been more visible during the last couple of decades. The days of specialists working alone have been numbered. They are to learn working together. Their skills levels vary widely from each other and they should understand each other’s capabilities well. Responsibility is no more individual, it is collective today.
“People in every workplace talk about building the team, working as a team, and my team, but few understand how to create the experience of team work or how to develop an effective team. Belonging to a team, in the broadest sense, is a result of feeling part of something larger than you. It has a lot to do with your understanding of the mission of objective of your organization” (Source: Susan M. Heathfield – 12 tips for team building).
With the convergence of the products with that of the services and technologies across the globe, most of the companies are now working in an environment that is cross-functional. The need of the hour therefore is organizational designs by working in team. Fierce competitions in the field of technology driven industries also have emphasized the teamwork. The objective is to keep the company at the cutting edge to be effective.
Teamwork however requires that you understand your compatriots well. Technology driven tasks have become too complex now for an individual to handle alone. Most of the organizations work to achieve the collective goals. Slowly but steadily the companies are eliminating the middle managements and downsizing the systems.
When the authority is shifted down to the members of the work team, it enables the management to capitalize on the positive synergies resulting in significant enhancement of productivity. With the teams operating in a manner where the whole is greater than the combination of the parts, the result is increase in the productivity substantially.
It is possible to bring out the best in the members when the problem solving skills as well as the creativity increases manifold due to team activity. A major characteristic that makes the team quite effective includes the complimentary skill sets and accountability. At the same time there should be desire in the members to work together. Results are much better when the team members work together. Such results would never be achievable when members work alone in seclusion.
Foundation of team work is laid when the task of the team is defined in clear terms. With the right mix of skills and commitment to the common goal team work is ensured. Normally the work teams are self managed. It is quite different from the traditional approach of management where individuals were held responsible for the performance of the group. With the development of teams the natural leaders will always emerge. Such team leaders have role completely different from the traditional work managers.
Leaders may facilitate activities of the group and free expression and exchange of ideas. Team members will naturally seek proactive solutions in a manner that allows members to participate in the activity according to their skill levels. The team becomes productive when all members of the team starts participating in the activity.
The path for such team work is neither easy nor very simple. Many challenges are there that would affect the efficiency of the team. Sometimes the members in the work team can suffer from the group thinking syndrome. In such cases every member thinks that he or she knows exactly what solutions another member is going to suggest. In such case the team can be paralyzed. Globalization issues are also great challenge before the team. With national borders becoming transparent and economies inter wine it results in the team becoming ineffective. Some times inter personal clashes between the members also becomes one of the major problems in the way of the teamwork.
All these problems are not insurmountable and with a little application of mind and basic preparations and systematic approach, the problems can be easily sorted out.
If the team is supported with sufficient resources and there are clearly defined policies and procedures there is no reason why the team work won’t become highly successful.
One may conclude quoting Asim Khan who says: “Management should communicate clear expectations for the team’s performance, as well as a rationale for why the team was created. Sufficient resources (people, time and money) must be allocated to the team and its tasks as well. Written policies and procedures that fit team practices can be developed to address issues like hiring, peer-based performance evaluations, and disciplining employees. When necessary, workshops and training sessions can be offered to improve the communication skills needed to function effectively as a team. Finally, managers can bring in external facilitators and mediators to help resolve conflicts, particularly when such conflicts become personal.”