Team Management

A team is a group of people but every group is not a team. A team is different from a group in the sense that it is usually small and exists for relatively long period of time till the objective for which it is formed is accomplished. A team must, ideally, consist of members who possess multifarious skills to efficiently handle various types of tasks. These skills should match job responsibilities and tasks that are to be carried out. The skills of the team members can differ according to the nature, scope and size of the project.

Team Types and constraints

A team can generally be classified as ‘formal’ or ‘informal’.

  • Formal team – It is a team formed to accomplish a particular objective or a particular set of objectives. The objective of the team formation is called as ‘mission’ or ‘statement of purpose’. It may consist of a charter, list of team members, letter of authorization and support from the management.
  • Informal team – This type of team will not have the documents that a formal team will have. But an informal team consist versatile membership as the members in it can be changed as per the requirements of the task on hand.

Team Roles

A team performs optimally when all the members are assigned appropriate roles and they understand their roles in terms of the overall functioning of the team. Some of the major team roles and responsibilities are as

  • Team leader – It is a person who motivates guides and helps the team stay focused. Team leader heads and conducts team meetings and also supervises the performance of the team. Team leader also documents and administers the activities of the team and divides the work among members and monitors their work.
  • Sponsor – They define the scope and goals of the project and provide the essential resources required to achieve the preset goals. They also monitors and the controls the team and its activities through the team leader.
  • Facilitator – They facilitate the team members in expressing their ideas and at times head the team meetings. They also aids the team leaders in keeping the team focused and also aids the team in making decisions on matters of high importance. They provide assistance to the team in overcoming substandard performance, if any. They also assist in avoiding and resolving conflicts.
  • Coach – Coach coordinates with the team leader and the facilitator to help the team function smoothly. Coach also assists the team members in fulfilling their obligations by supplying required resources.
  • Team member – They participate and share their views in the team meetings and also Uses their expertise to accomplish the tasks assigned to them. Team member tries to carry out the tasks as per the schedule.

Team Facilitation

The team leader and/or facilitator must understand group dynamics. Facilitators are useful in assisting a group in the following ways

  • Identifying members of the group that need training or skill building
  • Avoiding team impasses
  • Providing feedback on group effectiveness
  • Summarizing points made by the group
  • Balancing group member activity
  • Helping to secure resources that the team needs
  • Providing an outside neutral perspective
  • Clarifying points of view on issues
  • Keeping the team on track with the process
  • Helping with interpersonal difficulties that may arise
  • Focusing on progress
  • Assessing the change process
  • Assessing cultural barriers (attitudes, personalities)
  • Assessing how well groups are accomplishing their purpose
  • Asking for feelings on sensitive issues
  • Helping the leader to do his/her job more easily
  • Coaching the leader and participants

The facilitator must avoid

  • Being judgmental of team members or their ideas, comments, opinions
  • Taking sides or becoming caught-up in the subject matter
  • Dominating the group discussions
  • Solving a problem or giving an answer
  • Making suggestions on the task instead of on the process

Team Motivation

Probably the most important part of management is the manager’s responsibility for motivating the people for whom he or she is responsible. Certainly the most challenging management responsibility is how to both sustain and increase internal motivation in the work group.

Effective managers have confidence in their subordinates and trust them to a greater degree than do less effective leaders. Few motivational theories are discussed

Abraham Maslow – Maslow’s theory is that individuals are motivated to lower-order needs until these are relatively satisfied, and then higher-order needs must be met to sustain satisfaction.

  • Self-actualization needs – Maximum achievement for self-fulfillment
  • Esteem needs – Respect, prestige, recognition, personal mastery
  • Social needs – Love, affection, relationships
  • Safety needs – Security, protection, and stability
  • Physiological needs – Basic human needs; food, water, housing

Douglas McGregor – Douglas McGregor introduced new theories, Theory X and Theory Y. McGregor contended that traditional management practices were rooted in certain basic negative assumptions about people (Theory X)

  • Are fundamentally lazy, work as little as possible
  • Avoid responsibility, lack integrity
  • Are not very bright, are indifferent to organizational needs
  • Prefer to be directed by others
  • Avoid making decisions, are not interested in achievement

Team Stages

Most teams go through four development stages before they become productive – forming, storming, norming, and performing. Bruce W. Tuckman first identified the four development stages, which are

  • Forming – Expectations are unclear. When a team forms, its members typically start out by exploring the boundaries of acceptable group behavior.
  • Storming – Consists of conflict and resistance to the group’s task and structure. Conflict often occurs. However, if dealt with appropriately, these stumbling blocks can be turned into performance later. This is the most difficult stage for any team to work through.
  • Norming – A sense of group cohesion develops. Team members use more energy on data collection and analysis as they begin to test theories and identify root causes. The team develops a routine.
  • Performing – The team begins to work effectively and cohesively.

Team Communication

Communications is a two-way process that starts with the sender. The sender should be conveying information necessary for mission accomplishment. The sender must be proactive in making the receiver understand the message.

Team communication skills are critical for ensuring the success of the team effort, whether the team is charged with creating a new product, making a process improvement, or planning the summer picnic. Strong team communication skills can help build relationships, ensure the sharing of new ideas and best practices, and benefit team members through coaching and counseling.

Communication barriers are influencing factors which impede or breakdown the continuous communications loop. They block, distort, or alter the information. By identifying the barriers and applying countermeasures, team members can effectively communicate.

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