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Intro team development

Intro team development

In the rapidly changing world of business where organization struc­tures and processes are in a state of constant change there is an ever increasing emphasis on team work. Today’s organization necessitates the constant creation and break up of temporary teams. Whilst teams have always been important, the focus now placed on project work and matrix structures means that team work assumes far greater significance. Managers are expected to establish and develop teams more rapidly than ever. They are under pressure to motivate their teams and to drive them to higher levels of performance. This team focus looks set to continue and so managers need to become a lot smarter at understanding the characteristics and dynamics of high performance teams.

So let’s begin by defining a team. A team may be defined as a unified group of people with a common goal or purpose and identity. In turn each team member is committed to working together and has their own areas of responsibility and accountability. In effect they need each other in order to succeed. In some respects we can compare a work team with a football team. To score goals and win the game a team has to play together. This means passing the ball to one another in order to move the team forward and eventually score. It also means that individuals have to chase back and support others when possession is lost to the other team. Selfish and overly individualistic behaviour will not guar­antee success. In football terms it is not just the team with the most talent that so often wins. Rather it is the team who practises well, plays for each other and supports the overall team effort who often win. Just as a football team practises and reviews past performances, so a work team should also review its performance and learn from mistakes. Any manager in today’s fast moving business world needs to be able to form teams quickly and in so doing create an atmosphere of strong and productive

working relationships. In helping a team to function effectively the leader needs to provide the following:

  • Clear objectives and roles for the team and individual members.
  • An informal but effective working atmosphere.
  • Time-lines and control processes for guiding the team.
  •  Regular assessments of both team and individual performance.
  • Rewards for performance – both for the team as a whole and individuals.
  • Development and coaching to continually raise performance standards.

Good managers will spend large amounts of time managing their teams but, regardless of the investment, sooner or later they will encounter problems in the way the team works. All teams have their good and bad periods and it is the sign of a good manager who can lead a team through a difficult patch and bring their performance back up to standard. When a team does becomes derailed in terms of performance we might hear the following comments being voiced either by the manager or team members:

  • “They just don’t seem to be working for each other.”
  •  “The team meeting is just another opportunity for people to moan about their needs.”
  • “Our best ideas seem to get totally lost in the meetings.”
  • “They just don’t seem interested or motivated in what we have to do.”
  • “There are too many hidden agendas!”
  • “People are not being honest and upfront with each other!”
  • “Absolutely chaotic!! We do not seem to have an agreed sense of direction or purpose.”
  • “Some people are not getting on with each other and it is impacting on the overall team.”

Whilst all teams experience some of these issues at one time or another the prolonged presence of such problems might indicate more under­lying problems. An effective manager would need to be able to get on top of these problems at an early stage so as not to drag the team down in a negative spiral. To help stay alert to such problems it can help to understand some of the classic elements of team development and processes. Awareness of such issues can mean a manager can inter­vene with a greater sense of purpose if problems start to develop.

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