Team work, as we all know is one of the main reasons for the success of many organizations. This concept of teamwork is not only limited to organizations but used in almost every stage of an individual`s life. From the basic stages of life, a person would be a part of one team or the other, be it intentionally or otherwise. For instance, sports, a social activity, business development or a project. The more formal the task is, the more is the responsibility of the individual towards the particular task. Even though a person is a strong team player he/she can impede the success of the team. It may sound contradicting but it is possible in practical. For example, during a presentation given by a team at a science exhibition which I have visited recently, one person has accepted the task of going to the flipchart and presenting it. He was highly motivated and calls himself a good team player and of course did everything he can to make that task success. At the same time while presenting their work, he did as much to obstruct the team effort instead of supporting it. For example, he dismissed several ideas put forward by other which he thought were irrelevant without a second thought about it. Other team members are totally disappointed which we can clearly make out from the faces of the other team members. This person heart was in the right place given how strenuously he wanted the team to succeed. Yet from the way he worked, it seems like he was only trying to make the task even more difficult. Same was the case with other participants as well. One says he is a very good listener but misinterprets what was just said. Another person describes himself as a solution supporter but keeps on adding points prolonging the discussions. None of them realized how their behavior was opposing the very team success they wanted to achieve. Hence, how people behave and perform as members of a group is as important as their behavior or performance as individuals. Even though the task becomes easier and achievable for an individual when working in a team, it can also be potentially demanding. In this paper I would critically evaluate using the theories and research in this field, how working in a group can be both psychologically rewarding as well as potentially demanding for the individual.
Using Tuckman’s Model (Tuckman, 1965):
When I was working as software engineer in Symbiosis Technologies, a team of 10 were given responsibility of completing a project for our client: TechDynamics. Our team was divided into two groups of 5 members each with a point of contact (POC) from each group. I was given the responsibility of POC for one of the group and I led the team. I was responsible for taking the business requirements from the client and to divide the task to the team according to their expertise. End of the day I would consolidate the work done by the team members. This stage is referred to asFormingin this model where we establish base level expectations; identify similarities, agreeing on common goals, making contact and bonding, developing trust and inter-dependency.
Everyone in the team was responsible for his/her part of the work. We would take ownership for the work assigned to us and ensured that the output would be clean with no errors. We also had a good social support between our team mates and compensated other work. We accomplished the task on time with minimal number of errors. This was referred to asStormingwhere we identified power and control issues, gained skills in communication, identified resources, shared ideas, feelings and opinions.
With time we started building our team with increased communication and better decisions were taken with negotiations and consensus building as explained in theNormingstage in this model.
Once there was collaboration in the team, performance and the productivity of the team got better with time as we worked collaboratively. We found solutions to problems using appropriate controls, established unique identity and worked for each other. This was thePerformingstage
Many years later , Tuckman`s model was updated(Tuckman & Jensen, 1977) , a fifth stage is added and this is called as the adjourning stage where some people might leave the team for various reasons, however they still are influenced by those valued developed during this team work.
According to Homan`s Theory, patters of interactions between group members are of sociological interest because of their broad significance for members social life (Homans, 1951). According to this theory of group dynamics, there are three fundamental concepts: Activity, Interaction and Sentiment. This theory states that when two people in a team contact regarding task, they become friendlier than required for the task. This is quite true and also very helpful within a team because as discussed earlier, a team would move from norming stage to a performing stage when there is a closer interaction because of the social support by each other in the team.
Hawthorne effect (Mayo, 1933)
When we are working for the client, in the early stage of the project we are not monitored by our client, so there is less pressure on each member of the team and we used to take it for granted. Sometimes we were not punctual which delayed our delivery of the product. Due to this reason our client asked our team members to submit daily work report and asked us to work on remote computers so that they can track our status time to time and day to day. This increased pressure on every member of the team and from then we used to be punctual enough and worked with our full potential. This increased the output and we were able to complete the work early then what we expected. After few days we were not monitored by our client regularly but still our working potential remained the same.
In our team even though everybody are capable of working to there full potential , some of our member lacked few technical skills to accomplish their task in specified time or due to lack awareness about what they are expected to perform. So for this reason, coworkers of the team exerted their combined effort to influence associates who are not meeting expectations. This created peer pressure in our team. But for preventing the negative peer pressure we sent out team members who lack technical skills to special training centers for improving there skills and we conducted a team meet for explaining what exactly we are expecting from them. This resulted in a positive peer pressure and helped our team to perform better. “Negative peer pressure may work, but positive peer pressure will work more effective”.
All our team members had a good co-ordination among ourselves. With lot of members working, we had a diversity of skills and expertise. So this helped us to compensate and help others also to complete the task before we leave for the day. Everyone in the team had a good team spirit and everyone has played their role as a team player well. However, this is not the case always. There would be many scenarios wherein, the resources can’t perform well in spite of good resources. That is because of lack co-ordination and conflicts between the team members. Conflicts in the team are very natural as people from different personalities, different culture, and different views come into a common platform. The ability to distinguish these early and to understand the myth in these problems is essential, to make the differences work for the team to be effective. Conflicts in team are generally due to the opinion that “my way is the right way” or misinterpretation of motives by using self as an indication, Judging rather than appreciating differences etc. If team members can sense these tendencies in themselves and nip such problems in the bud, they will yield from the diversity that adds all the colors to the rainbow of the team.
As a team, it is also required to recognize the strengths and weakness of every team members. As a team, everyone needs to boost up the confidences of the fellow team member by pointing his strengths, this would not only build up their faith upon themselves but also will build up the confidences on the team and would also increase the social relation between the team which is very much required. Instead if any team member always points out a person negatives or criticizes the work completed by the person in the group, he/she would lose interest in the work and would no long take ownership for his work. This would not only affect the performances of that person but would affect the team performances on the whole.
Also during brainstorming discussion about a topic, it is very much required to understand the ideas of our colleagues. It is required to listen actively the fellow ideas and shut down any bad feelings towards them during work. If we allow any bad feelings to brew, that person would feel isolated or discriminated. Any idea put forward by the team member should be analyzed in all directions. Analysis of all the ideas would make everyone feel that they are part of the team and would strive hard to achieve the goal together. Criticizing or neglecting any team member during the discussion would make them feel lost or neglected from the team which is not good for the team on the whole. Robert Kelley said, “Be less of a hero and more of a hero maker.” He was wise to identify that when people work together in coordination by helping and supporting each other, a team would be more productive. (Kelly 1992)
When working in a team, the risk is equally shared among all the team members. But sometimes, it happens that no one takes the blame or the responsibility for failure. Also no one knows who is doing what and the job also might not be done if there is no proper communication between the team members. So proper communication is very much required among the team members. Also all the team members should feel responsible for the end product.
It is also the responsibility of the team leader to check out who is working hard. If the right person is not recognized or not appreciated for the work he has accomplished at the right time, that person would lose interest over period of time. It is the responsibility of the team lead or the manager to recognize the strengths and weakness of the team and appreciate the right ones at right time. It is also his responsibility to work encourage the weaker section of the people to outperform. This would make the team balanced.
It is always good to work in team provided the team members are sociable and knows how to work in a team. For Teamwork to be successful it is required to have social skills like listening, discussing, questioning, persuading, respecting, helping, sharing, participating, communicating are effectively practiced by every team member. It is required to value the ideas of every fellow person in the team. Every team member should be an active listener. Analyze and discuss the idea shared by the other person carefully. Appreciate the person for his idea. If a better idea is brought up, it is also required to persuade others and to bring everyone to consensus. Respecting others, sharing and helping others will help build good relation among the team members.
Every coin has two sides. Similarly the same would turn into disadvantage when the team is not well or the people don’t like each other. Also it happens that people don’t know how to work in a team. Therefore, it is required to train the resources or select them wisely.
Belbin’s Theory (Meredith, 2004):
Belbin defines a team role as “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way”. He has developed nine behaviors or team roles. Every team role has its particular strengths and certain allowable weakness too and each has an important contribution to a team together. The nine behaviors or team roles are:
- Plant: It is symbolized by someone who is creative, imaginative and unorthodox to solve difficulties.
- Resource Investigator: Person who is enthusiastic and communicative. He/she should be able to explore new opportunities.
- Co-ordinator: A person who is mature, confident, promotes decision making and delegates work properly.
- Shaper: It represents someone who is driven to overcome obstacles and thrives on challenge and pressure.
- Monitor Evaluator: Is someone who is strategic, sees all options and judges accurately.
- Team worker: A person, who is co-operative, mild, diplomatic, listens, builds and averts any friction between team members.
- Implementer: Is someone who is disciplined, efficient and reliable. That person should be able to turn ideas into practicality.
- Completer Finisher: She/he should contribute towards completing the task on time and who searches for error and omits them.
- Specialist: A specialist should be single minded, dedicated and provides knowledge or skills in rare supply.
As I worked as a team leader to a project I can relate my role to this instance. The team leader is a Co-coordinator here; he plays a vital role in the success or failure of the team. The team leader should spare time in team building activities. He should have the commitment towards work and the team. This would inspire subordinates and value his words. Each member in the team should be valued and also should make sure that a new comer should be comfortable in the new environment. He should be able to support all his team members during tough time and appreciate them timely for their good work. It is the team lead who has to encourage his team members and instigate energy and enthusiasm among the team members. This would make the team responsible for all the activities and work together as a team.
Team leader must lead the way instead of giving suggestions from behind ,he must be an inspiration for every team member. The words of Larry Bird emphasize this, “leadership is getting players to believe in you. If you tell a teammate you’re ready to play as tough as you’re able to, you’d better go out there and do it. Players will see right through a phony. And they can tell when you’re not giving it all you’ve got. Leadership is diving for a loose ball, getting the crowd involved, getting other players involved. It’s being able to take it as well as dish it out. That’s the only way you’re going to get respect from the players.” (Bird 2007)
Team work is defined as “a joint action by a group of people, in which each person subordinates his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group.” in Webster’s New World Dictionary. The joint action of people is effective when all the team members have certain characteristics. They are, the team must have a clear goal. Everyone should know what they need to complete and what is expected as a team. The team must have a collaborative climate. They should be good listeners, competent and commitment towards work. The team should obey the ideas shared by others and also should be able to persuade others when others idea would bring better results. Team members should not brew any negative opinions over others. Importantly it is the responsibility of the team lead to recognize the pros and cons of the team and support the team in timely fashion. She/he should monitor the performances of the team and recognize the team effort and accolade them for all their support during the hard times.
Speaking about the darker side of team work, when the feeling of oneness among the team members is missing then, however, technically strong a team is it would lead to failure of accomplish of task. There would be no co-ordination between them and everyone would try to blame or criticize others. In certain scenarios, individual accountability will not be recognized over the team. Also the same person will be criticized along with others when there is failure in the completion of task. So he/she would lose interest over the work. So it is the responsibility of the team lead to identify that person and acknowledge him for his work. This would also impress others to work in the same way.
So when everyone in the team has team spirit and realize that we are working for a common cause/purpose then the team would be successful. When the same characteristic is missing among the team then the end product would not be impressive whatever the technical level be. Also the team lead should always drive the team towards the correct direction with his supports or acknowledgements and solve the problems among team members in an unbiased and friendly manner.
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