Friday, August 24, 2007

Team Work - You are NOT done, until the team is done

Team Work is very important for the success of a group/organization. A team may consist of people with varied levels of experience and skills. You need synchronisation and cohesion within the team. A fast moving vehicle stays on course only if all the wheels rotate together. What if one wheel decides to run faster than the others. The vehicle will lose its balance and topple. The same thing applies to team work also. So, how do you promote team work within your group?

You'll often have team members who will try to outsmart others. Some folks will be reluctant to help others. There are extreme cases where folks may not like to work with each other. The lack of team work within a group may be at times, counter productive. So, how can organizations get folks to work with each other?

The first thing that you need to do is build the team with the right set of people. You have to make sure that the team members can work with each other. At the end of the day, you are not just dealing with people. You are dealing with personalities. You have to make sure that the different personalities in your team can co-exist. The purpose of building the team is not to get 1+1=2 performance. The purpose is to get 1+1=3 performance. If you don't build the team right, you'll get 1+1=1 performance.

In many occasions you may not have the luxury to form/build your own team. You'll be asked to manage an existing team. So, what can you do to promote team work within the group? People have solved this problem already. They've identified a diverse set of things that can be tried such as group outtings, team building activities, happy hours etc., At times, these initiatives may not still promote team work. The reason being such activities are done 'once in a blue moon day' and there is no constant re-enforcement. Also, there is a bigger issue which organizations tend to ignore.

Though organizations preach team work, they continue to promote individual contributions. How can organizations promote team work when their performance system continues to reward individual contributions? Shifting the focus on group performance instead of individual performance, will alleviate such problems.

A team is like the wheels of a train engine. When they all work together, the organization continues to move in the right direction with a rhythm. When they try to take their own course, the organization loses its focus and balance.

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