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1. Shared Goals and Objectives

In order for a team to operate effectively, it must have stated goals and objectives. These goals are not a simple understanding of the immediate task, but an overall understanding of the role of the group in the total organization, its responsibilities, and the things the team wants to accomplish. In addition, the members of the team must be committed to the goals.

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2. Utilisation of Resources

The ultimate purpose of a team is to do things effectively. In order to accomplish this, the team must use effectively all the resources at its disposal. This means establishing an environment that allows individual resources to be used. Team effectiveness is enhanced when every member has the opportunity to contribute and when all opinions are heard and considered. It is the team’s responsibility to create an atmosphere in which individuals can state their opinions without fear of ridicule or reprisal. It is each individual’s responsibility to contribute information and ideas and to be prepared to support them with rational arguments.

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3. Trust and Conflict Resolution

In any team situation, disagreement is likely to occur. The ability to openly recognize conflict and seek to resolve it through discussion is critical to the team’s success. People do not automatically work well together just because they happen to belong to the same work group or share the same job function. For a team to become effective, it must deal with the emotional problems and needs of its members and the interpersonal problems that arise in order to build working relationships that are characterized by openness and trust.

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4. Shared Leadership

Individuals will not function as a team if they are brought together simply to endorse decisions made by their leader or others not in the group. The development and cohesion of a team occurs only when there is a feeling of shared leadership among all team members. This means that all members accept some responsibility for task Functions/ those things necessary to do the job and maintenance functions/those things necessary to keep the group together and interacting effectively.

Task functions include initiating discussions or actions, clarifying issues and goals, summarizing points, testing for consensus or agreement, and seeking or giving information. Task leadership helps the group to establish its direction and assists the group in moving toward its goals. Maintenance functions include encouraging involvement and participation, sensing and expressing group feelings, harmonizing and facilitating reconciliation of disagreements, setting standards for the group, and “gatekeeping” or bringing people into discussions. No one person can be expected to perform all these required leadership functions effectively all the time. Groups perform better when all members perform both task and maintenance functions.

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5. Control and Procedures

A group needs to establish procedures that can be used to guide or regulate its activities. For example, a meeting agenda serves to guide group activities during a meeting. Schedules of when specific actions will be taken also regulate team activities.

Team development and team-member commitment is facilitated through maximum involvement in the establishment of agendas, schedules, and other procedures. In meeting situations, control most often is achieved through the appointment of a chairperson whose responsibility is to facilitate the procedure established by the team. Some teams find that they do not need a formal leader; each member regulates his or her own contributions and behavior as well as those of others.

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6. Effective Interpersonal Communications

Effective team development depends on the ability of team members to communicate with one another in an open and honest manner. Effective interpersonal communications are apparent when team members listen to one another and attempt to build on one another’s contributions. Effective interpersonal communications are achieved through self-regulation by team members, so that everyone in the group has an equal opportunity to participate in discussions.

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7. Approach to Problem Solving and Decision Making

Solving problems and making decisions are two critical team functions. If a group is going to improve its ability to function as a team, recognized methods for solving problems and making decisions should be studied and adopted. The lack of agreed-on approaches to problem solving and decision- making can result in wasted time, misunderstandings, frustration, and, more importantly, “bad” decisions.

A generally accepted, step-by-step procedure for problem solving and decision- making is as follows:

  1. Identify the problem (being careful to differentiate between the real problem and symptoms of the problem).
  2. Develop criteria (or goals).
  3. Gather relevant data.
  4. Identify all feasible, alternative solutions or courses of action.
  5. Evaluate the alternatives in light of the data and the objectives of the team.
  6. Reach a decision.
  7. Implement the decision.

Needless to say, there are variations of this procedure.

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8. Experimentation / Creativity

Just as it is important for a team to have certain structured procedures, it also is important that the team be prepared occasionally to move beyond the boundaries of established procedures and processes in order to experiment with new ways of doing things. Techniques such as “brainstorming” as a means of increasing creativity should be tried periodically to generate new ways to increase the team’s effectiveness. An experimental attitude should be adopted in order to allow the team greater flexibility in dealing with problems and decision-making situations.

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9. Evaluation

The team periodically should examine its group processes from both task and maintenance aspects. This examination or “critique” requires the team to stop and look at how well it is doing and what, if anything may be hindering its operation. Problems may result from procedures or methods, or may be caused by individual team members. Such problems should be resolved through discussion before the team attempts further task accomplishment. Effective self-evaluation is probably one of the most critical factors leading to team development.

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