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Essence of Teamwork

Essence of Teamwork

Requirement of Teamwork?

Larger, ambitious goals requiring unique tailor made approaches usually require that people work together with other people in a team and not as individual. As the tasks are unlikely to be well defined and practiced for new challenges posed and unfamiliar environments it becomes difficult to assign predefined tasks to workers with well-defined targets to be achieved in stipulated time.

Companies today want people who are team player, people who are able to get along with their colleagues and work together in a cohesive group to achieve the organizational targets sacrificing their own personal interests at times. Such people are hard to find and best an organization can do is to develop the team spirit through various in house techniques. It may be noted that a ready-made team can never be hired/implanted. It has to be very carefully and systematically developed at the organizational level.

Prerequisites for Teamwork

Common and well-defined Goal: It will be very difficult to built an effective team unless the individual members goals are in line with that of organizational goal. It is like one-day cricket match. Goal there is to win the match and not to look for individual achievements. A batsman cannot afford to loose time by playing slow in order to improve his average score. At all times the team goal has to be kept in mind and it has to over ride individual desires and goals. So a clear and well-defined goal becomes a prerequisite for any team. After having set the goal the individuals forming the team have to be groomed so that they identify this and realign their personal goals with that of the organization. It is a tough and painful exercise and takes lot of time and patience. Role of leader becomes very important in developing team spirit. It may be mentioned here that at times the leader does not have the choice of choosing his own team and more often than not he gets a team by default, which he has to lead.

A team Leader (not a boss): As brought out already, a boss will never be able to lead a team to a victorious situation as the team members will let him down the moment they get an opportunity to do so. At places where the jobs are very well defined and standardized over a period of time, a boss may be able to force the individual member to achieve the targets imposed by him but in situations where the tasks are not very well defined and standardized and every coming day poses new challenges hereto unknown the boss will never be able to get the desired results. Here I will like to quote a very popular and quoted quote that distinguishes a leader from a boss.

The boss drives people, the Leader coaches them.

The boss depends on authority, the Leader good will.

The boss inspires fear, the Leader inspires enthusiasm.

The boss says: I, the Leader says: We

The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; The Leader fixes the breakdown.

The boss says: Go, The Leader says Lets go!

The boss says do it anyhow; Leader shows how it is to be done.

A boss knows everything, a leader admits mistakes.

A boss criticizes, a leader gives advice.

A boss demands respect, a leader earns and deserves respect.

So, be a leader, not a boss.

Causes of failures

Examination quickly reveals that under-performance derives, not from ineffective policies or individual incompetence, but from the interactions among the staff, i.e. process rather than performance. This factor, often referred to as group dynamics, needs to be understood and utilized if an organization is to achieve its full potential for effectiveness. The American Management Association conducted in-depth interviews with 41 executives and uncovered seven common traits that most often lead leaders to failure: –

Insensitivity to co-workers.

Aloofness and arrogance.

Tendency to misuse information conveyed in confidence.

Inability to control ambition.

Inability to delegate assignments or promote teamwork.

Inability to staff effectively.

Inability to think strategically.

So how can those who lead maintain the difficult balance of managing the affairs of the company while maintaining the loyalty of their employees? What truly sets apart the mediocre, overbearing boss from a highly respected and effective leader? The answer is that leaders lead people. A leader is someone others consistently follow. It stands to reason that people follow because they have a belief in the direction, integrity, and competence of the person in the lead. As Kenneth “Thane” Walker once said, “A manager remains a leader only as long as he keeps proving that he is the superior man with the best method.”

Skills Needed For Teamwork

Following could be termed as skills which team members, specially team leader, should exercise in order to develop and promote team spirit in his team: –

Listening: It is important to listen to other people’s ideas. When people are allowed to freely express their ideas, these will produce other ideas. By allowing other to speak their mind makes them feel at home and they adapt to common goal more easily rather than the organizational goal getting imposed upon them.

Questioning: It is important to ask questions, interact, and discuss the objectives of the team and also the plan for execution. By doing so you come one step closer to making organization goal as team goal and inch forward to make it a common goal for all team members.

Persuading: Individuals are encouraged to exchange, defend, and then to ultimately rethink their ideas and come to mutually agreeable solution if possible. It will help to instill a sense of belonging in them towards organization.

Helping: It is crucial to help one’s coworkers, which is the general theme of teamwork. Use of proactive approach will be better. Be sure that he will reciprocate the same when situation so demands.

Respecting: It is important to treat others with respect and to support their ideas instead of being critical of their approach. All ideas can be discussed and debated upon. Acceptable ideas could be adopted after consensus without hurting anybodys sentiments. Same way the actions of the members of the team in different situations must be supported. Lessons can be drawn from instances where they had gone wrong to avoid repetition of mistakes/ failures.

Sharing: It is important to share sorrows and joys with the team members to create team spirit. It may be mentioned that rewards must be shared and credit must be given to the team and not taken personally by the leader.

Participating: All members of the team should be encouraged to participate in the team and to have a say if possible.

Approach for establishing the norms for effective teamwork

By taking small but carefully drafted and effectively implemented measures a sense of team spirit can be developed among the workers. Few of the measures are suggested here: –

A shift in attitude from being employees to partnership/ownership. For example many progressive companies are issuing their stock to their employees on a preferential basis. This invokes interest in the employees towards the profitability of the company and he puts in his best to improve companies profitability as part of that profit is paid back to him by increase in share price of that company.

Instilling a sense of belonging in the team members. Sense of belonging can only be instilled when s/he is made to realize that the company belongs to him and in case he needs their support that would come automatically and not merely by letting him know that s/he belongs to the company.

An important shift in focus: Our common goal instead of company/ bosss goal should be the theme to develop and work.

Developing mutual faith. It is important to note that faith can never be invoked through talks. It has to be developed through actions.

Clarity, simplicity and effectiveness of communication. If communication is efficient but not effective it is useless as it will not be taken seriously.

It will not be out of context if I quote one very popular story here, which shows the importance and relevance of instilling a sense faith and effective and not only efficient communication.

John was a young shepherd boy whose job was to guard a flock of sheep on the mountainside. One day, he had nothing to do and a little annoyed, he decided to play a joke. He shouted at the top of his voice to the other shepherds: “The wolf! The wolf is here!” The men came running immediately armed with sticks and clubs to kill the wolf but the boy greeted them with a laugh saying that he wanted to joke with them. On the morrow the shepherd boy repeated the same cry and once again a good number of shepherds came running up the hill, but seeing that it was once again a joke they returned to their jobs very annoyed. On the third day there was indeed a wolf and John cried out as he had never cried out before. But nobody came. The wolf was able to kill the sheep undisturbed and it was John’s turn to see the sheep that he loved and cared best of all carried off by the wolf to his den. In this case the faith was broken and communication, though efficient, was not effective.

Team Leader and his role

How can those who lead, maintain the difficult balance of managing the affairs of the company while maintaining the loyalty of their employees? What truly sets apart the mediocre, overbearing boss from a highly respected and effective leader? The answer is that leaders lead people. A leader is someone others consistently follow. It stands to reason that people follow because they have a belief in the direction, integrity, and competence of the person in the lead. A manager remains a leader only as long as he keeps proving that he is the superior man with the best method. Following are few handy points to help the to be leaders: –

Sometimes leadership is merely letting people do their jobs: After having defined the job for an individual it would be better to leave him without interference at times, however a close watch may be kept on the progress. Just remember he will do the job the way he likes best. He may not do it the way you probably do the same job. For you what matters is the end result. If you want him to do the job the way you would have done it you are asking for trouble.

Leaders cannot be aloof; they must constantly show that they care:People leave or love their jobs for a number of reasons. Ask yourself the following questions: How important do your employees feel in their work? What have you as a leader done to show your employees how important they are? When was the last time you made it possible for people to be proud of their achievements? How often do you celebrate their successes? Chances are your answers to these few simple questions will closely reflect your employee retention rate.

A good leader keeps the entire team informed: In order to achieve success the leader should keep his team informed of the strategy that is being adopted. By this he will understand his role better in overall plan and thus will put in his best. Leadership is all about getting the very best out of each person in the team.

Leadership is getting your employees to compromise for the good of all.When Columbus was searching for the New World, his crew became discouraged and demanded that he turn back. So Columbus offered a compromise. He promised that if they would be patient and faithful just three days longer, he would abandon the enterprise if land was not discovered. Before the three days had expired, land was sighted, and the rest is history.

Leaders must learn to sacrifice for others: Take the example of Alexander the Great, who over three hundred years ago led his troops across a hot and desolate plain. Eleven days into the journey, he and all his soldiers were nearly dead from thirst. But Alexander pressed o unnerved. At midday, two scouts brought him what little water they had. It barely filled his cup. Alexander’s troops watched in amazement as he poured the water onto the hot sand. “It’s no use for one to drink when many go thirsty,” he proclaimed. As a leader, Alexander gave his followers the only thing he had: inspiration. The influence of a leader persists long after the person is gone. The final test of a leader is that he inspires others and leaves the conviction and the will to carry on even after he has gone.

Keep the morale of the team to highest level: You should be rest assured that a de-motivated person will not put even his average. Having a well-motivated team therefore is he first and foremost requirement for achieving. The team leader should always be with the team and should not maintain too much of distance from team members.

Know your team members back wards: In order to derive the very best of each person it is essential that the leader knows each of them to the full including their strong and weak points and he should assign the tasks depending upon the individual capability of the members and not at random.

Author has 28 years of experience in the field of Teaching and Management. He is M. Tech from IIT Kanpur and has worked in different capacities including Signal corps Indian Army, Regional Manager for a Telecom Company. Currently he is Associate Professor with ITM, Gurgaon that is rated as best Engineering colleges of North India.

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