A team is described as an assemblage of workers for a common purpose. Within the business perspective, a team comprises of a group of employees who perform the assigned tasks together in order to achieve a shared goal or purpose. In most cases, within the business environment, teams are normally assembled to undertake tasks such as developing business plans, improving customer services and preparing marketing plans.
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In various organizations, teams are assembled to accomplish an important function for the attainment of the organization goals. Good teamwork is not only required in businesses but also for the successful accomplishment of various tasks both in government agencies as well as in non-profit making organizations.
Rescue and relief organizations, such as the Red Cross, often apply the principles of successful teamwork in most of the assumed activities to quickly respond to disasters and rescue efforts. In fact, these organizations can only succeed in their duty through the utilization of proper teamwork principles. Besides, teamwork is essential for the success of an organization, not only is it in business, but also in other organizations like those dealing with disaster response.
Studies reveal that the characteristics of a successful teamwork is the ability to put personal prejudices aside and show total willingness of working together as a group. This paper examines some of the basic principles of the teamwork under the following categories.
The characteristics of teamwork, its application during tsunami, team roles and how they were related to the success of relief and rescue efforts during tsunami. The paper also explores how these teams could have been built using theoretical models. Finally, the paper explains how these teams were developed.
The characteristics of successful teams
There are numerous characteristics of successful teams, each applicable to the organization and the environment that organization operates. These characteristics transverse various organizations and environments in which these organizations operate. Of great essence are the organizations that deal with rescue efforts and relief work during disasters such as ours. These organizations must apply teamwork for proper co-ordination and success in their effort to offer assistance.
The fundamental characteristic of teamwork is the definiteness of purpose. It is deemed as the most success secret that the world various successful organizational teams apply to achieve their goals (Martin 2006, p.271). Essentially, the characteristic is widely applicable where the organization teams know and understand the goals and objectives of the organization. The teams in the relief organization know that their work is to offer assistance to the victims.
They have to provide shelter, food and other rescue efforts. These duties and obligations are coined in these organizations goals, mission and values. Basically, the aims and missions are instilled in these organizational groups in such a manner that they are constantly engrossed in the quest for the stipulated goals. Specifically, the teams know and understand their roles and appear to be oriented towards the attainment of the organizational goals.
The other important characteristic that teams in businesses, institutions as well as other organizations such as those in relief efforts require is the commitment. More often, commitment remains to be the core trait that teams adopt in order to achieve the organization goals.
The most of the successful teams are normally committed and show orientation towards the success of the organization in which they work (Marin-Garcia1 & Zarate-Martinez 2007, p.279). Commitments shown by such team is geared towards the realization of the desired results.
Our teams understand that their credibility were to be judged depending on or according to their accomplishment. Therefore, they had work hard to achieve positive results. Positive results always provide motivation not only to the organization but also to the financiers and the beneficiaries.
Such motivations were highly required by our teams and their members to accomplish their positive results (Batool et al. 2012, p.112). In most cases, the teams needed a lot of commitment since some of their duties were diverse some of which are not in the areas of their expertise.
It was necessary to have people in the teams who could be able to find effective way outs from difficult situations in a company that wants to be successful. This was critical especially for our relief organization that normally works in disastrous zones where problems are rampant. Though members of the groups work as teams, individual critical thinking in solving the intricate problems was highly necessary especially in areas of individual expertise.
For example, the logistic officer was always required to solve problems associated with movement of supplies, people, equipment and other logistical works (Martin 2006, p.273). An accountant was always solving the problems of financing and financial accountability. Field managers were always co-ordinate activities in the field.
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To be successful, the members of the group were to be team players. In other words, they must work with similar conviction of purpose in realizing the common goal. For this to be attained, our teams were to remain bonded to the organization mission. The mission of the organization will always tie the members of the group as a team. In most cases, it is the organization mission that binds the workers who are eager to attain the organization goals as a team.
Most importantly, our teams were required to be tactical in their approach. Everyone within the humanitarian teams was termed as a principal schemer within their own expertise arena. Indeed, successful teams always have action plans that are calculated, in-depth and analyzed before the decisions are made and implemented (Marin-Garcia1 & Zarate-Martinez 2007, p.280). After the execution the results are monitored and various feedbacks gathered for proper evaluation. This was also required of all the teams that we had.
The significance of team-roles in successful teams
It was realized that the teams comprise of individuals of diverse professionalism. However, the determining factor was the efficiency and effectiveness of in attaining goals. The effectiveness and efficiency was highly required so as to reach out to as many people as possible (Senior 1997, p.242).
What we really avoided most in the formation of the teams was the long procedures especially in decision making. Each team member was given enough freedom to decide on what was best and workable for their success. We came to realize that long bureaucracy will slow down our efforts (Senior 1997, p.243). In other words we adopted team based problem solving strategy.
Each member of the teams we formed understands their responsibilities and all of the team members came to an agreement to enable each individual handle their role. This was an essential step especially in the initial stages in the team project undertaking. Defining each individual responsibility in the team was vital for the overall success of the team. The reason was to increases efficiency and effectiveness in each of the team’s undertakings. Result was greater productivity and greater sense of accomplishments among the team members.
To help us understand more about the team roles we depended on the Belbin theory of team roles (Gündüz 2008, p.460). We adopted the Belbin nine team roles form our teams. Each of our teams comprises of nine individuals each having or assuming the Belbin characters or roles.
For these teams to be successful we ensured that in each team there must be a member who has the characteristics of being imaginative, creative, and unorthodox. The individual would be helpful for the team because of the capability to provide viable solution to extremely difficult problems. The member is relied on when the team is faced with difficult situations or when problem arises.
Also within the teams was the resource investigator. This was a team member who is an extrovert, enthusiastic and communicative. This individual seeks for any prospects and improves on the contacts. Also essential to these teams was the coordinator. The individual should be mature, confident and good chairperson. The individual has the capability of clarifying the goals and ensure that they are accomplished.
Humanitarian teams need the shaper, an individual who is challenging, thrives on pressure and dynamic (Fisher et al. 1998, p.285). The shaper should be courageous enough not to fear to face the problems and find solutions to them. The other character in the team that will make it become more successful is the monitor or evaluator. In tsunami rescue teams, such a person must always be sober, discerning and strategic. He is an individual who sees all options and judges accurately.
Team worker was also needed for the team to become more successful. Team worker is an individual who is cooperative, diplomatic, mild and perceptive. This individual is one who will listen to others, avert any cropping friction and builds the team. This individual is a team player. Furthermore, for the teams to be successful there must be a team implementer. Team implementer is a person who is disciplined, reliable and conservative (Fisher et al. 1998, p.289).
This is also the person who is very efficient and effective within the team. The implementer is capable of turning the ideas into practicable actions. Also required in the team is the completer or the finisher. Completer or finisher is an individual who is thorough, conscientious and anxious within the team.
This is a team member who is keen and searches for errors and omissions. He is a person who is anxious about time and delivers its work on time. Finally the team requires a person who is a specialist. A specialist is a single minded and self starting person who is dedicated towards own work. This is the guy who will provide knowledge and skills which is in a rare supply.
Efforts in relief work is rewarding however it is demanding and in most cases physically exhausting. Though each member of the teams have the required duty to provide relief and recovery services, sometimes these clearly defined roles steal away when face up with the consequences of the disaster.
For the very first instances all of us was amazed by the intensity and the huge impact that tsunami brought a bout. Indeed we realized that our organization a lone was too little. We had to work and collaborate with hundred other organizations in order to achieve any meaningful work. The teams we had comprised of the construction workers, medical personnel and responders.
Immediately the construction teams became summoned up to perform the simple first aid to tsunami wounded residents. Medical personnel had to assist in carrying water and unloading supplies. Responders had to prepare victims for hash conditions, deal with poor sanitation and limited supplies. The working of the teams required great coordination and understanding among the members.
The value of using theoretical models while building successful teams
Before we set out for work in the tsunami hit areas we had to come up with teams that we deemed to be successful. Building successful teams such as those working in rescue scene like tsunami hit areas require theoretical models as a basis for ideas and required knowledge. The expectation was that the theoretical model would be helping us predict the behavior of the teams while on the field (Ashforth & Mael 1989, p.24).
We started building these teams by acknowledging the tasks and duties that was ahead of us. Based on the media reports and assessors on the ground we knew that the tasks ahead was enormous hence the need of well defined goals and understanding of these goals by the team members.
After defining the goals and objectives we then embarked on developing an appropriate model for the teams. This involved defining the required skills that are necessary for both the team members and the leader. Lastly we set out the right measures that will ensure that all members in the team are in appropriate job levels that are based on needed skills and performance.
we came to recognize the fact that the behavior of individuals within the team determines the team’s characteristics and defines the teamwork, that is why it may be concluded that the culture and politics of the organization and the environment under which they work influence the whole team, and the work process as well (Ashforth & Mael 1989, p.22).
Therefore, the individual behavior within the team cannot solely be determined by their idiosyncratic characteristics, also the social context in which they operate. We appreciated the social structure and culture while creating teams since they determine the beliefs and norms that are utilized. The theoretical perspective we utilized was helpful and its use encompassed all the requirements of in all the humanitarian organizations.
The stages of team development
In building our successful teams we applied the Tuckman’s group development model. The model suggests that the successful teams undergo the stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing stages (Tuckman1965 p.385). As per the Tuckman model our teams grew to maturity and ability.
As we were rising to maturity phases, the team affiliates created new affiliations and the team directors had to change their governance styles. The team leaders began with directing the style, couching participating and finally delegating. This process is simulated in the forming, storming, and norming and performing.
During the forming stages our team’s leaders were highly dependent on for direction and guidance. There were unclear individual responsibilities and roles in the teams. Processes were always unclear and individuals did not properly understand the organization objectives and goals. During the storming stages there were agitations among the members of the teams as they tried to establish themselves (Tuckman1965, p.397).
The clarity of purpose increased however there existed persistence of uncertainty. During the Norming stage, there was consensus on most issues. The individuals come clear of their roles and responsibilities and the goals and objectives were clearly understood. Big decisions were made by the team members and commitments as well as unity were increased among the team members.
In the performing stage which of course was in the field, the team members were strategically placed to undertake any given task. At this stage the teams had developed a mission and a shared vision that were essential in the task accomplishments (Tuckman1965, p.397).
Indeed, almost all our successful teams went through these stages in their development. Even though disaster response and relief organizations have teams that are formed within the shortest time possible, they normally undergo these stages. The faster the development process goes the more successful the team will be since they are finally judged by their accomplishment and performance.
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