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Motivating Teams


Working with teams, whether as leader of a single team or manager of several, is an essential part of a manager's remit. Teamwork is rapidly becoming the preferred practice in many organizations as traditional corporate hierarchies give way to flat, multi-skilled working methods. This section is an indispensable and practical guide to leading teams with expertise, covering subjects such as defining the skills required to complete a project, establishing trust between individuals within a team, and maximizing the performance of that team. The section is vital reading for any one involved in teamwork, whether as a novice or as an experienced team leader.

This month we will discuss:

1) Understanding How teams work

Understanding How Teams Work

Teamwork is the foundation of all successful management. Managing teams well is a major and stimulating challenge to any manager, form novice to experienced hand.

1) What Makes A Good Team?

A true team is a living, constantly changing, dynamic force in which a number of people come together to work. Team members discuss their objectives, assess ideas, make decisions, and work towards their targets together.

A) Working Together

All successful teams demonstrate the same fundamental features: strong and effective leadership; the establishment of precise objectives; making informed decisions; the ability to act quickly upon these decision; communicating freely; mastering the requisite skills and techniques to fulfill the project in hand; providing clear targets for the team to work towards; and - above all - finding the right balance of people to work together for the common good of the team.

B) Analyzing Team Tasks

Successful teams can be formed by 2 to 25 or more people, but much more important than size is shape - the pattern of working into which team member settle to perform their given tasks. There are three basic methods of performing a task:

Repetitive task and familiar work require each team member to have a fixed role, which is fulfilled independently, as on assembly lines;

Projects that require some creative input require team members to have fixed roles and working procedures, but also work in unison, as when generating new products;

Work that demands constant creative input and personal contributions requires people to work very closely as partners. This style of working is prevalent among senior management.

Working Well Together

A team of manager's discuses a new plan that has been put forward by a member of the team. All of the team members are free to join the discussion. Later, the team leader will assess the contribution.

C) Achieving Potential

There is no limit to the potential of a good team. Given an "impossible" task, team members will reinforce each other's confidence as they seek to turn the "impossible" into reality. The collective ability to innovate is stronger than that of individuals because the combined brainpower of a team, however small in number, exceeds that of any one person. By harnessing this power, a team can go beyond simple, useful improvements to achieve real breakthrough. For example, in one company an engineering team was asked to double machine reliability. They thought it impossible, but went on to produce a plan that pebbled performance.

Working Towards Understanding Encouraging open communication and the free flow of information within a team ensures that each member is fully aware of the talents and experience available within the group.


Remember that team members must support each other Break long-term aims into short term projects.

D) Knowing Team Goals

Once a team has been formed, the next major step is to establish its goals. There is little point in having a team that is raring to go if its members are all pursuing disparate aims. Goal may very well change over a team's existence: for example if a new product is being launched on the market, the first priority will be for the team to concentrate on research into its competition. If the aim is to improve customer satisfaction, the first goal will be to find ways to provide a higher standard of service.

According to the circumstance, teamwork goals might include:

Increasing the rate of productivity in a manufacturing company;

Improving the quality of production;

involving all employees in decision making process to increase job satisfaction;

Looking at working systems and practices to reduce time wastage;

Working together with customers to build closer relationships so that the need of the market can be better understood.

Improving Performance

In a survey of 230 personnel executives, the American society of training and development found that teamwork led to a substantial rise in performance in key areas.

Cultural Differences

Cross-functional, multi-disciplinary, interdepartmental teams are spreading fast in the west, having been established in Japan for many years. In some British companies, managers already spend half their time working in such teams; and the democratic attitude of many North American's has helped them to adapt well to this way of working. Continental Europeans still tend to be more comfortable with traditional hierarchical systems, but increasing competitive pressure and the need for speed-your-market are now forcing change on mangers in many industries.

Note: Allocate a clear deadline for each of your projects.

Manik Thapar (MBA)

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