Building the Team Example

The purpose of this assignment requires consideration of how to develop and maintain trust at work, as well as how teams are built within the workplace and what effects and concerns a manager needs to be aware of. Teams are more than just groups of people assembled in the same area, they are a collection of individuals dedicated to a common purpose and with a series of detailed performance targets, working together with complementary skills. Teams of people are encountered in various scenarios, not just in the workplace, but also throughout life, such as sports, associations, charities and voluntary services.

Effective teams are built on trust and are developed and maintained by the manager’s understanding of each member’s role within the team during the stages of team building. Developing and Maintaining Trust The basis for developing and maintaining trust lies on building a rapport with your colleagues, which relies on both parties having mutual respect, and a level of empathy existing between individuals. These characteristics will lead to a certain amount of benevolence between colleagues and this is underpinned by the ability to express genuineness and the capability or capacity to be yourself consistently.

When a manager combines these traits and promotes openness throughout the team, it will support the growth and balance of an effective team. Ensuring that trust is maintained within the team promotes independent working but also encourages interdependence amongst team members. Through frequent communication with staff and team members, managers can build levels of trust by making use of both formal and informal contact by means of memos, team meetings or one-to-one appraisals. It is vital that all information is passed on in a timely manner and actions are carried out as agreed.

Openness should be encouraged through face-to-face communication and confidentiality must be assured. Confidentiality is paramount in maintaining trust between individuals as undependable members of the team leads to distrust and disharmony and unwillingness to keep others informed. Conflict between team members can prevent effective working partnerships or constructive decision being made, which can ultimately lead to frustration and a loss in morale, and an overall unproductive team unit. Building a Team

Many people use the words ‘team’ and ‘group’ interchangeably, but there are actually a number of differences or characteristics between a team and a group in their relevance and their purpose. Teams depend on the strength of common goals and interdependence between individual members, whereas a group’s strength may come from sheer volume or willingness to carry out a single leader’s commands. Groups are formed quicker and easier than teams. Even within the workplace, groups could be shaped according to gender, age, experience, expertise, skills, etc.

Forming a group based on a certain commonality is not particularly difficult, although the effectiveness of the groups may be variable, leading to complete compatibility or complete intolerance between individuals at a personal level, making consensus building very difficult for a leader. The success of a group is often measured by its final results, not necessarily the process used to arrive at those results. A person called to jury service for example will become a member of a group, not a team.

The foreman of the jury plays the single leadership role, returning the verdict of the 11 other opinions into one unanimous decision. Since the jury members usually don’t know one another personally, there is rarely an effort to build a team dynamic. The decision process for a verdict is the result of group co-operation. A team, on the other hand, can be much more difficult to form. Members of a team may be selected for their complementary skills, not a single commonality. Teams within a Vehicle Maintenance Workshop may consist of a Supervisor, a Foreman, Heavy Plant Diesel Fitters, Light Goods Vehicle

Mechanics, Fabricators, a Stores-man and a Clerk for example. All with differing skills and levels of experience, to allow a service to be provided efficiently and effectively. Each member of the team has a purpose and a function within that team, so the overall success depends on a functional interdependency. There is usually not as much room for conflict when working as a team. The team also does not rely on groupthink to arrive at its conclusions. There are many theories on the ways that group form and become efficient and effective teams.

One of the best-known team development theories was first developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 and has formed the basis of many further ideas since its conception. Tuckman’s theory focuses on the way in which a team tackles a task from the initial formation of the team through to the completion of the project. Tuckman’s theory is particularly relevant to team building challenges as the phases are relevant to the completion of any task undertaken by a team but also the development of a team in the grander scheme.

The Model and stages are described below in the order that Tuckman identified: Forming The team is assembled and the task is allocated. Team members behave independently, with anxieties about inclusion and exclusion. Their time is spent planning, collecting information and bonding, with an apparent willingness to conform. This can happen whenever new circumstances occur within a group, or when new challenges or projects are set within established teams Storming The team starts to address the task by suggesting ideas and tackling issues of authority and control.

Different ideas may compete for recognition and implementation and if badly managed this phase can be very destructive for the team. Allegiances between team members will be made or broken in this phase and some may never recover. The Leader’s task at this stage is to keep calm and assert authority without the group withdrawing into themselves and becoming unreceptive. This is a positive stage, as the whole group will know that if they each find their role within the team and work effectively and efficiently they will become a well-built team.

But if a team is too focused on consensus, a plan more beneficial to the team than the task may be decided upon. It is essential that a team has strong leadership in this phase as in extreme cases some teams never leave the Storming phase. Norming As the team moves out of the Storming phase they will enter the Norming phase, moving towards harmonious working practices with teams agreeing on the rules and values to operate to. Team members now settle into established roles and begin to trust one another during this phase as they accept they are interdependent on each other to gain the require results.

Individual members take greater responsibility within the team allowing Team leaders to take a step back from the team at this stage. The risk during the Norming stage is that as the team becomes comfortable within itself it also becomes complacent and loses either its creative edge or the drive that brought them to this phase and members can become institutionalised into their existing roles. Performing Not all teams make it to the Performing phase, which is where the team becomes greater than the sum of it individual members, as these members are now working interdependently with each other at near or full potential of the individuals.

These teams need not be managed so meticulously, and are not threatened by change. Performing teams show interdependence as well as independence, with high levels of knowledge and experience. They are highly motivated and competent at what tasks are in hand. Collaborative decision-making is expected at this stage, as diversity and debate is encouraged due to high levels of respect in the communications between team members. Mourning

So called due to the stage being likened to the feelings about death, and therefore the need for careful handling, this is also known as the Adjourning & Transforming stage. This is the final phase added by Tuckman to cover the end of a project and the break up of the team. In a successful team when a member leaves or a new member joins the team will revert to the Forming stage, but it may last for a very short time as the new team member is brought into the fold. It should be noted that a team could return to any phase within the model if they experience a change.

Managers can benefit greatly when building teams by recognising the preferred roles of team members and also the required roles within a team. One theorist that developed a way to identify the preferred roles of team members was Dr. R. Meredith Belbin, with a system called the ‘The Belbin Team Role Inventory’, which identifies the behavioural tendencies of individuals when in team environments. Nine team roles where identified and individuals would show stronger behavioural tendencies through questioning or observation and be identified as one of these roles.

Identifying the types of roles the member of a team fills when starting up teams and ensuring you have a good balance will, as a leader, allow you to create an efficient and effective team, or manage the difference, knowing that teams work best when there is a balance of primary roles and when team members know their roles, work to their strengths and can identify and manage their allowable weaknesses as a whole. This will allow the team to work to it’s full collective potential and realise that, in Belbin’s own words, “nobody is perfect – but a team can be”.