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Effective Teamwork  

2008-07-30 22:53:21|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Whether in the workplace, or in sports, or amongst members of a community, effective teamwork can produce extraordinary results. However, that is easier said than done, effective teamwork does not happen automatically.

 

First, let us see the conditions that help develop and maintain effective teamwork: common group objectives and goals understood and committed to by all team members; efforts to develop and use the unique skills and abilities of each team member in a way that helps a team meet its objectives; efforts to develop in team members flexibility, creativity and sensitivity to the needs of others; a clear value reinforced by our management team, on trust, openness of communication among team members and between team members; efforts to increase each member's sense of belonging to the team; time and attention devoted to teamwork; and rapid and accurate feedback to team members about the effectiveness of their actions and decisions.

 

Now, let us see the conditions that present challenges to effective teamwork: team members are new or change often; persons on the team are unsure of or not happy with their roles; time pressures make it difficult to adequately develop project and team; the locations or workload of team members make it difficult for team members to have regular contact with each other; there is uncertainty about the goals or tasks to be accomplished, or individual team members are unsure of their task proficiency; differences in perceptions exist among team members and team roles; communication breakdown exists (this goes for managers also); there are taboo topics that affect team's performance; and participation is not uniformly spread among team members, or there is not adequate punishment for those that do not do their part.

 

In addition to the basic requirements for team members who should be open and honest with one's ideas, concerns and values and have the ability to commit to a shared goal, to listen and respond to others in an objective and productive way, to take on different roles in the group in order to accomplish shared ends, and to be a leader as well as a follower, there are a number of factors required to cohere together, working seamlessly, for an effective team to develop and work. Good leadership, the right balance of the right people, effective communication, defining clear-cut roles, creating procedures for conflict resolution and setting a good example are some of the factors vital for building a good team that works successfully.

 

One of the most important aspects of effective teamwork is effective leadership. This means that the team leader should have the skills to create and maintain a working culture that is positive. This helps to motivate and even inspire the team members to get involved in creating an environment where there is a positive approach to work, along with high levels of commitment. A good team leader is a person who not only focuses himself/herself on the purpose and direction of the team, but also makes sure that the other members of the team share this focus. A good team leader also has to be able to promote a high level of morale amongst the team members so that they feel supported and valued. This is particularly useful for preventing the bane of most office cultures – that of backbiting, rumormongering, gossip mongering and cronyism – which can derail the efforts of any teamwork.

 

The balance of a team involves having people whose experience, skills, perspectives, interests and contributions complement one another, rather than duplicate or counteract each other. For example, it is no good having a team full of creative people who have lots of new ideas, but do not have the people who have the stamina and stickability to see those ideas through to completion. Similarly, a team that is full of people who are steady, strong workers but have little spark or creativity, will also be impoverished by comparison with a balanced team. If it is not to become stale and sterile, a team needs people who are prepared to risk conflict by challenging existing norms and assumptions, but, by the same token, a team also needs its peacemakers. Differences between team members can, in themselves, lead to conflict but the diversity of the team and the balance that this can achieve, will generally more than make up for any such conflicts.

 

It goes without saying that communication is a vital factor of interpersonal interaction, and the very term "teamwork" represents interpersonal interaction. Hence, one of the key aspects of effective teamwork is open communication, wherein it enables the members of the team to articulate their feelings, express their plans, share their ideas, and understand each other's viewpoints. Grappling and sorting out the complexities involved in communication is thus one of the challenges of developing and sustaining effective teamwork.

 

It is necessary for teams to know clearly what their purpose is, what role each member of the team has to play, what each person is responsible for, what is not within their scope, and the resources they have to achieve their goals. The team leader can enable this by defining the purpose in a clear-cut manner up front. The team, on their part, can help by building processes wherein the roles and scope of each member as well as the team are kept in focus, and avoiding anything that undermines effective teamwork.

 

No matter how good a team may be, conflicts will inevitably occur some time or the other. The best way to counter this is to have structured methods of resolving them. Team members should have a way of expressing their opinions without fear of causing offense to anyone. Direct confrontation can also be allowed in a moderated manner, so that matters that may have been simmering can be aired out and cleared. Instead of ignoring and procrastinating these issues, a hands-on approach that resolves them quickly is better. In fact, it is advisable for the team leader to actually sit with the parties in conflict and work out the differences between them, without taking sides and making sure to remain objective. Eventually, the conflicts can actually be used as a chance to reveal underlying problems that may be in existence within the team.

 

And finally, effective teamwork can only come about when the team leader sets a good example, which can be emulated by the team members. In order to keep the team committed, positive and motivated, the team leader himself/herself has to have all these qualities and make it apparent that he/she does. After all, the team leader is the person the team looks to for support, direction and guidance, hence, any cynicism or negativity on his/her part is picked up by the team and is reflected in their teamwork. So, even if it means forcing yourself to, it is important to maintain a supportive and positive attitude always.

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