- Clarify: Team or work group?
- Know: The characteristics of effective team work
- Start at the heart: The core of effective team work
1. Clarify: Team or work Group?
Often the terms “team” and “work group” are used interchangeably, but “teams” are just one type of “groups”. The researchers Johnson & Johnson (Joining together: Group theory and group skills,) point out that
Placing people in the same room and calling them a team does not make them one. A team is not just a number of people working together. Committees, task forces, departments, and councils are groups, but they are not necessarily teams. Groups do not become teams simply because that is what someone calls them. No matter how often it is called one, the entire membership of any large organization is never a team.
Some of the differences between a team and a work group are:
In a work group interdependence is low and accountability focusses on individual members, not on the group as a whole. The product of a work group is the sum of all the work produced by its members. Members do not take responsibility for results other than their own. Members do not engage in tasks that require the combined work of two or more members. In meetings, members share information and make decisions that help each person do his or her job better, but the focus is always on individual performance.
Key differences are:
- The general organizational mission is the group’s purpose vs. a specific, well-defined purpose exists that is unique to the team;
- A strong, clearly focused leader is appointed vs. shared leadership responsibilities among members;
- Individual accountability vs. individual and mutual accountability
2. Know: the characteristics of effective teams
Six characteristics of effective teamwork (Pat McMillan, TWR-Servant Leadership training):
- common purpose – must be common, clear and compelling for all members
- crystal clear roles – understanding my own and each other’s roles in the team process
- accepted leadership – competent leadership that is affirmed and respected by the members
- effective process – each one knows his/er specific task and how decicions are made
- solid relationships – based on mutual trust, respect, courtesy and understanding, and
- excellent communication – based on responsible listening and responsible speaking
3. Start at the heart: The core of effective team work
For a team to work effectively it is crucial that the team members submit to each other’s strengths and protect each other’s weaknesses. (from Bill Thrall)
- Knowing my own strengths and weaknesses;
- Trusting each other with one’s strengths and weaknesses;
- Accepting each other’s strength and weaknesses.
… and requires lots of mutual trust. Without trust there is no effective team work.