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A manager acts as a team leader who must guide and motivate its team members effectively to achieve desirable results. Some managers find it difficult to establish teams that are self-directed and high performing. Lack of vision and direction is one of the factors which may act as a barrier to effective team building. A high performance team is one which works together towards common set of goals ignoring individual differences and interests of its members. The culture of effective team is result and task oriented. With lack of vision and unclear objectives, team members will not know what is expected out of them. Lack of direction will also be a source of demotivation leading to inefficiencies . The manager must ensure that clear objectives are set and everyone in the team agrees on it. Team members look upon leader for direction. If manager doesn’t establish clear objectives and goals, it is difficult to establish a high performing team.
Self-directed teams perform well when they have effective leaders. A manager may fail to demonstrate effective leadership qualities leading to ineffective teams. Some of the problems manager faces are regarding coaching the team, setting high standards, appreciating efforts and inspiring team members . A manager who is not aware of the needs of team members and does not encourage, inspire and support team members is unlikely to establish a self-directed high performing team. Hence a manager who lacks leadership skills will find it difficult to establish effective teams.
Another problem that manager might face when establishing teams is conflicting attitudes of team members. A team functions effectively only when all members works towards common goals and achieve set objectives. All members must work and complete jobs that enable the team to achieve its goals even when it’s not a part of job description. If a manager is not able to handle diversity and conflicts, a team is less likely to achieve its objectives. Team members will not trust their leaders or their teammates resulting in ineffective teams .
Successful characteristics of effective teams
According to Woodcock, there are ten characteristics of establish self-directed, high performing teams :
Clear objectives and agreed goals: Team members must be clear about team goals and each member must know about his or her role in achieving those goals.
Openness and confrontation: Team members must be comfortable with expressing their views and ideas with other team members. There should be an environment where team members confront issues and resolve them quickly.
Support and trust: Team members must share honest and sincere relationships based on trust. Every member of a team must talk freely about problems and must be willing to help each other.
Cooperation and conflict: Team members must be willing to cooperate and work towards the same direction.
Sound procedures: A team must have sound procedures when working together and making decisions.
Appropriate Leadership: This is a major requirement to ensure that the team is led in an effective way. Ineffective leaders lead ineffective teams.
Regular views: Feedback is important to identify how well team is working and what is achieved. Individual member’s performance must also be assessed.
Individual development: Every team member must receive adequate training to ensure continual development of skills. Development of individuals must be encouraged. An effective self-directed team has the right balance of skills, ability and aspiration. A team will only achieve best results when its members take advantage of strengths from one another. These synergistic relationships lead to best results as they achieve more together than they could achieve individually.
Sound inter-group relations: The team must work together and cooperate with other teams.
Conflicts must be managers effectively within teams to maintain high performance. Manager must ensure that conflicts are handled constructively. This can be done by creating an environment of trust and respect where members are willing to address conflicts openly. Open communication will lead to productive conflict where new ideas are explored and diverse opinions will be welcomed by other team members. Manager must also investigate reasons behind conflicts and use active listening when resolving them. Active listening ensures clear understanding of issues which helps to resolve them quickly .
Appelbaum, S., Abdallah, C. and Shapiro, B. T. (1999) ‘The self-directed team: A conflict resolution analysis’, Team Performance Managemen, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 60-77.
Harvey, S., Millet, B. and Smith, D. (1998) ‘Developing Successful Teams in Organizations’, Australian Journal of Management and Organizational Behaviour, vol. 1, no. 1.
Ingram, H., Teare, R., Scheuing, E. and Arminstead, C. (1997) ‘A systems model of effective teamwork’, The TQM Magazine, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 118-127.
Jones, S. (2010) Psychological Testing, Harriman House Limited.
Schermerhorn, J. R. (2011) Management, John Wiley & Sons.