Performance of Teams

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Work teams seem to be the latest fad in today’s business environment. We have teams for quality improvement, teams for customer service, performance management teams, and the list goes on. Companies of every size are striving today to team up employees for increased productivity, better customer relations and simplified structure. They encourage them to focus on generating the desired results. In order to reach the objectives, the key to effective teams is to know why and for what purpose the employees are called together. Once the team’s objectives are placed above individual goals, success can be achieved.

The group is likely to take pride in its performance and become more goal-oriented and committed to the team. The acronym, PERFORM, summarises the behaviours that are necessary for a group to become a high performing team. This is the fourth stage of a team coming together. When I first started college, I found it quite daunting because I had not been for 10 years and also because I was starting a course which I knew nothing about and was about to meet my lecturers and fellow students who all came from different backgrounds.

This was the ‘forming’ stage for us all. For the first couple of weeks we all just listened to the lecturers and did not want to speak out in front of the group but would happily chat to each other on a one to one level. This is what is called the ‘storming’ stage where relationships start to form. After a couple of weeks, I started to feel more comfortable within the group and felt like I belonged. This is the ‘norming’ stage where people start to share ideas and give feedback. The next stage is the ‘performing’ stage.

This is where the group have established themselves and come together as a team. I felt at this point as though we all had a common goal and knew that I could use my fellow students to bounce ideas off without any worry of being mocked. This showed in the study block that we had transformed into a high performing team where we could all have our say without being selfish by using up too much of the time we had allocated. When I first started at my current job I also went through these stages, as did the staff who were already employed with the company.

Having a new manager is a big change for people. They were wary of me and what ideas and procedures I would put in place. The ‘forming’ stage was quite uncomfortable but it only lasted a day or two. The ‘storming’ stage was also difficult because their last manager was the ultimate Theory X manager. Apparently they were not even allowed to do simple tasks like sweep the floor or empty the bins without his authorisation. It was like a pet that had been abused, it took a while for them to realise that I was not going to scream and shout at them for their every move.

Once they realised this, they tested my boundaries and on the odd occasion we had to have a chat in my office regarding the quality or quantity of their workload. This created a bad vibe and we all felt uncomfortable but once they realised that I had set my boundaries and what I expected from them was not unreasonable, they then started to enjoy themselves. There was a good atmosphere and they starting giving me their ideas on ways to improve certain areas. I listened to them and implemented some of the ideas which made them proud and they took ownership of the ideas.

This was when we arrived at the ‘norming’ stage. Since then, the relationships have got stronger and stronger, they now have the confidence to talk to me about anything and also to criticise my decisions if they believe that there is a better way of doing something. I personally believe this is a good thing; it also gives me the opportunity to explain why I have decided to take that action. We have now grown into a high ‘performing’ team that if we have any new members of staff, they simply fit into the way we work.

This is because as I said earlier, not only is the environment very welcoming but because of this, the staff try to impress me and are competitive amongst themselves. There are seven characteristics of an effective team according to a study conducted by Don Carew, Eunice Parisi-Carew and Ken Blanchard of Blanchard Training and Development. They are purpose and values, empowerment, relationships and communication, flexibility, optimal productivity, recognition and appreciation, and morale. The first characteristics are purpose and values.

Members of teams share a sense of common purpose. They are clear about what the teams “work” and why it is important. They can describe a picture of what the team intends to achieve, and the norms and values that will guide them. Purpose defines what the team is to accomplish and the values and norms define how. They have developed mutually agreed-upon and challenging goals that clearly relate to the team’s vision. Strategies for achieving goals are clear. Each member understands his or her role in realising the purpose and values.

Values play a major role in leadership and teams as it provides the basis and pathway for leaders and team members on how they think, act and behave. This can also work in a negative way if the team leader has bad values i. e. Adolf Hitler who had greed, glutton and coercive power values embodied in him. Although Hitler had loyal followers to him, he would not stay on top for long as people could see through his ingenuity; they could see a gap between what he said and what he practised.

The reality is people will lose respect for the team leader if they do not approve their code of conduct both professionally and privately. The second characteristic is empowerment. Teams thrive on self-directed members who have been empowered to make decisions, troubleshoot problems, and initiate change and experiment with creative ideas. The organisation must dare to trust its employees enough to let them manage themselves in teams. Employees earn that trust by internalising the goals and mission of their company. They put their career welfare in the hands of the team.

Empowered teams share in power, but also in responsibility, for results. A sense of mutual respect enables members to share responsibilities, help each other out, and take initiative to meet challenges. Members have opportunities to grow and learn new skills. There is a sense of personal as well as collective power. Team leaders and members must dare to innovate, take risks and pursue continuous training in order to ensure breakthrough performance. Daring teams never settle for mediocrity, conformity or business as usual.

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