Thursday, January 29, 2015

The qualities of successful teams

A team is a group of individuals committed to a common goal.Teamwork is a complex process: a group of people pooling their skills, talents and knowledge. In good teams, people with complementary skills work together, each playing to their strengths and each recognizing the strengths of the other team members.The criteria for effective team performance are a deep commitment to a common purpose and the sharing of common goals.One of the key elements of a winning team is a feeling of inter-dependency-one for all and all for one (Stuart –Kotze 2008). Teamwork is the glue which promotes collaboration, commitment, motivation, dependability and accountability among team members. The purpose of a team is to help the organization as a whole to achieve its objectives. Effective teamwork increases problem-solving, decision quality, creativity and innovation. . Vince Lombardi said, “Build for your team, a feeling of oneness, of dependence upon one another, and of strength to be derived from unity”.

Defining teamwork

A team is a group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal or purpose.
Teamwork is the process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal.
A team is small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

7 - essential skills for teamwork

Listening –team members listen to each other’s ideas.
Questioning –team members question each other.
Persuading – team members use persuasion.
Respecting – team members respect the opinion of others.
Helping – team members help each other.
Sharing – team members share ideas and report their findings to each other.
Participating – team members contribute to the project.

Team building stages (Bruce Tuckman model, 1965)

Team building is a process that takes place over time. The start of the process is where there is a group of people, two or more and a leader. The end of the process is where there is a high performing team. The development of a group of people into a team takes time, commitment and energy. A successful team exhibits synergy (the sum is greater than the parts) between the individual members of the team. Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Forming – stage where the team is first formed. Team members start to work together.
Storming – stage where impatience with progress occurs. Team members challenge their shared purpose.
Norming – team members star to resolve their differences, appreciate colleague’s strength and respect the leader.
Performing – stage where the mature team understands its strengths and weaknesses. Members are satisfied with progress.

Teamwork principles

Strength in numbers – teams function best when the strengths of individuals are combined together.
Integrity – team members exhibit shared perception so that their strengths combine to enhance what they do.
Alignment – the strengths of individuals and the support of colleagues are directed towards meaningful goals in the organization.
Results – the team focuses on delivering results it has a clear performance focus.

Qualities of effective team player

Genuine commitment –An outstanding team player cares about his/her work, the team and the team’s work. The team player exhibits care and commitment to the team’s work.
Open communication – Great team player communicates his/her ideas honestly and clearly and respects the views and opinions of others in the team.
Always reliable – every team needs reliable team members. Reliable team member gets his work done and does his fair share to work hard and meets commitments.
Active listening – good listeners are essential for teams to function effectively. Effective communicators also listen carefully.
Active participation – good team players are active participants. They come prepared for team meetings and listen and speak up in discussions.
Information sharing – Outstanding team player willingly shares information, knowledge and experience.
Cooperation – cooperation is the act of working with others and acting together to accomplish a job. They respond to requests for assistance and take the initiative to offer help.
Exhibits flexibility – Inflexibility is one of the worst human failings. A flexible team member can consider different points of views and compromise when needed.
Problem solver – an exemplary team player is willing to deal with all kinds of problems in a solution – oriented manner.
Support and respect – an outstanding team member treats fellow team members with courtesy and consideration. They show understanding and the appropriate support to other team members.

The qualities of an effective team leader

The team leader is typically a member of the team who provides guidance and support and has ultimate responsibility for the outcomes of the team (Bachiochi et al 2000). According to Zengu et al (1994), team leaders must (1) build trust and inspire teamwork (2) facilitate and support team decisions and (3) expand team capabilities. Team leaders should have significant responsibility, trust, emotional stability and flexibility.

Kinds of teams

Global teams – cross-border teams made up of members from different nationalities.
Virtual teams – consist of geographically dispersed members linked via technology.
Cross functional teams – team members from the same hierarchical level but from different work areas, come together to accomplish a task.
Creative team – a type of team created for the purpose of developing innovative solutions.
Tactical team – a team created for the purpose of executing a well defined plan.
Hierarchical teams – are the traditional type of teams and are most common.
Multidisciplinary teams –are groups drawn from different parts of the organization.

Characteristics of team processes

Team coordination – coordination refers to orderly interpersonal actions required to perform complex tasks. Effective teams harness the variety and minimize the differences of members to ensure that expert skills and knowledge are well utilized.
Team communication – Communication refers to an observable interchange of information and subtle interactions of power, attitudes and values. Effective teams show two-way communication processes with clearly defined responsibilities and appropriate delegation.
Team cohesion – Team cohesion acknowledges member’s personal attraction to the team and the task. Members cooperate interdependently around the team’s task in order to meet team goal.
Team decision making – team decision making is the process through which a team chooses an alternative. Team performance depends largely on the choices made by the team. These choices, in turn, depend on the processes through which teams decide. Therefore high’ performance teams require processes through which teams make high quality decisions.
Team conflict management – team conflict can source both creativity and destruction. For teams to value creative contributions and promote effective problem – solving, diversity needs careful management. Destructive team conflict often has an interpersonal basis in work role or organizational factors.
Social relationships – good social relationships maintain effective teams. Personally team members who are empathetic and supportive offer practical assistance, share information and collaboratively solve problems.
Performance feedback – Individuals, teams and the organization all require accurate and timely feedback about the team’s performance in order to maintain effectiveness.

Characteristics of  successful teams

1. Effective teams are committed to a common purpose and goal. Team members must collectively understand and commit to their team’s purpose.
2. The atmosphere in an effective team tends to be informal, comfortable and relaxed. They are provided with clear expectations and adequate resources to accomplish its goals.
3. The team members must be able to communicate effectively with each other.
4. The team members are free in expressing their feelings as well as their ideas.
5. The members of the team are trustworthy and they rely on each other understanding their own strengths and weaknesses.
6. Effective teams set clear and demanding performance goals. The team defines and achieves a continuous series of small wins along the way to longer goals.
7. The team members appreciate the diversity of knowledge that the other team members offer.
8. The members of the team are creative and unafraid to share opinions, ideas and suggestions.
9. Effective team members avoid conflicts when challenges occur and instead focus on overcoming those challenges.

Enemies of teamwork

Effective teamwork may be undermined by a variety of problems, for example disorganization, poor communication, gossip, misunderstandings, lack of shared purpose or inadequate procedures for problem-solving.

Benefits of teamwork

Teamwork can lead to better decisions, products and services. Teamwork accelerates growth and heightens productivity and profit margins.  Teamwork can allow healthy competition among team members to outperform each other. Teamwork can be a source of education and inspiration. Teamwork allows an easier flow of information and solves problems easily.  Teamwork develops trust and reduces stress. Teamwork helps development, fine tune and executes a project in the most innovative way possible. Teamwork plays a very important role in organization as well as our personal lives.

 Family as a successful team

A family is like a team –Make your family a ‘team’ which will bring wonderful benefits to your young children. It can teach them selflessness, cooperation and develop a strong family bond.
                                        Teamwork is a goal-driven process.
                                                    Unity is strength.


  1. Wow!! This is a superb article on corporate team building activities. Through these team building activities your team can learn essential skills of teamwork and that is very important for the success of a company.