The characteristics of an effective team which separates it from other teams and makes it effective is the ability of the team to perform at the highest level for an extended period of time and to complete its work in the most efficient and effective manner and to the best of its ability. Teamwork produces its own quality that becomes successful in a group.
A good team is formed to complete the objective it is given. An effective team is excited to completing its goal by using the team’s resources. This does not mean that as individuals the people that make up the team share the same point of view. It means that when the team is presented with a goal, they can come together and work as a single unit to accomplish the task.
There are a number of features of a team which make it different from a group:
1. In an effective team, members share a high level of dedication to achieving the common objective.
2. Members of effective team knowledge a high level of satisfaction from being part of and working with the team.
3. In an effective team, members work well together in an integrated way, with a high level of awareness and understanding of each others’ strengths.
4. An effective team shows a high capability for solving its own problems. The skills exist and there is a willingness to act.
5. Most significant from the organization’s point of view is that an effective team is one producing high quality results. High quality results, it could be reasonably argued, are the outcome from the other characteristics of the effective team.
The qualities of a successful work team are, therefore, identifiable, quite specific and measurable. Although any group can possess any or all these characteristics, an effective team must display them all.
The team’s overall objective needs to be recognized and defined in terms which allow each member to understand the same goal. The leader has the responsibility in communicating a clear image of what the organization expects from the team. A style which encourages a questioning approach is likely to reveal any members’ doubts, misunderstandings or resistances which need to be positively managed.
Appropriate Leadership: Leadership is a shared function based on the need of the task rather than through consideration of formal role. This requires considerable flexibility in recognizing and allowing other team members to exercise real leadership when a member’s skills are more appropriate to the team at that time. There is an important leadership function. It is one of using skills to develop the team and making sure that time is allocated appropriately for team-building activities.
Suitable membership: For a team to be able to work productively, its members must present the range of skills, knowledge and experience and the right ‘mix’ of these for the task it is undertaking. Members are valued for what they can provide and are encouraged to develop. Inadequately time is wasted on considerations of what members cannot do. The importance is on strengths, on the positive.
Commitment to the team: Team members experience real strength from their membership and the sharing of goals. They are keen to invest considerable energy in the interests of the team. Membership is very much valued and member behaviour is strongly influenced by considerations of team success. This is very different from the rather simple and (from the work effectiveness point of view) rather unproductive ‘WE’ feeling that is part of the experience of simply being with a group of people who get on well together and enjoy each others’ company.
A supportive team climate: The order of the day is participation and personal responsibility. Members are trusted to contribute in a responsible approach. Self-control replaces imposed control. Responsibility is widely shared throughout the team based on reason, given the skills and other strengths among members. Members are encouraged to contribute ideas, take risks and question the team and its activities openly without fear of control, disapproval or reprimand. The only condition is that the members’ behaviour is with the best interest of the team and its performance.
Getting things done: The successful team not only knows where it is going, it knows when it has arrived. It sets performance targets and milestones and establishes ways in which the team’s movement toward achieving the targets can be measured. It is important that performance targets are ones that represent something of a challenge to the team and its members without being unrealistic and consequently demoralizing. When the right performance standards are set, the team’s energy is directed towards achieving results. Team performance is constantly being appraised, in order to identify any problems in the team’s path or being experienced by members. This is an important responsibility for the team leader.
Working techniques: The team needs to spend time and effort into developing working techniques, methods, procedures and ground rules to move the team toward its goal in the most professional way consistent with preserving those other qualities associated with effective teams. These include techniques for making decisions, solving problems and generally coping with anything which gets in the way of progress.
Learning: The team and its members learn from their experiences, including their mistakes. Mistakes made in good faith do not lead to heavy penalties, but are included into expectations about the team and its members growing over time.
Problems are analyzed for what they can contribute to the individual and collective maturing process. Constructive criticism, based on finding and reason and intended to help the team and its members grow in competence is welcomed. These places a premium on fact-to-face skills associated with coaching and giving feedback. They will be particularly highly valued skills when used effectively by the team leader.
New members: New team members are quickly integrated into the team, their strengths identified, and contribution defined. Every effort is made to help the new member prove their value to the team quickly.
Managing the group: A successful working team acknowledge the meaning of observe the team itself and the way in which it is working. Understanding something of ‘group dynamics’ is an area of knowledge and skills which is very much developed in effective teams. Allocating time and energy to understanding and managing relationships is an important investment. The team leader should be able to display considerable competence in this respect. Responsibility for monitoring events is not invested in the team leader alone. It is shared among members, although some will be more competent than others and show preferences in the direction of ‘team maintenance’.
Relationships with other teams: An effective team also invests time and energy into developing ground rules for managing its relationships with other teams in a positive and productive way. This includes identifying areas of work where collaboration would clearly help one or both teams achieve results more efficiently or effectively. It includes maintaining open contact and frequently reviewing tasks priorities. Resources are shared where this will help progress toward a broader, but understood and shared, organizational objective. Joint problem solving is widely adopted and the tendency to ‘blame others’ is replaced in effective team working with a direction of effort toward understanding problems and finding solutions.
Success: The effectiveness of a team grows. All the conditions set out above develop more extensively and readily to the extent that the team meets with early, continued and acknowledged success. Two possible problems exist for very successful teams. First, they may be seen as so competent that they attract more work than they are able to handle resulting in overload and decline in performance. They may have to learn to say “no”. Even if they attract more resources of money and people to handle the extra work, they may suffer from problems of “bigness” and will almost certainly need to restructure into smaller satellites if they are to continue successfully.
The second problem for the successful group is one of complacency. Their very success and organization becomes their own worst rival, and they find it difficult to respond to new circumstances,
As a unit manager I am expected to undertake a full range of duties in the unit and manage and supervise a team of staff and maintain and manage the unit environment. My job indicates that I will be leading team, take part and I have the responsibility of motivating and inspiring them to achieve and to be successful. I must also provide support and implementing changes required and role model best practice to the staff. Being the focal point of my team I am able to challenge them and in doing so I can keep them all motivated. As a leader I should be able to see how my contribution has had an effect on the team which can include growth and development.