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Team Basics

During the last decade of the Twentieth Century, nearly every company in North America caught the team bug. If the hype was to be believed, workplace teams would solve virtually every corporate problem, ratchet up quality, increase productivity and profits, improve organizational culture, and cure the common cold. Teams were good. Teams were in. Hierarchy was bad. Hierarchy was out.

Try this thought experiment: The boss comes back from a conference (always a dangerous thing) carrying a big binder they handed out at the conference and announces that the organization is going to "institute teams." Clearly he or she expects everyone else to share the zeal and, so, forms an executive team to plan the "teaming effort." Soon, teams are being formed across the company. There's a big kickoff meeting or videoconference broadcast. An eye-catching logo and clever motto are flashed on the screen and emblazoned on T-shirts, baseball caps, and buttons that are distributed to everybody in the company.

The training department gets into the spirit and training classes, Web sites, manuals, and posters are popping up all over the place. There are teams meeting everywhere, employees carrying notebooks, gathering data and making presentations to management with their proposals.

It's now 18 months later. The posters are gone; the buttons are junk in the back of that pencil drawer in your cubicle and the word "team"?if spoken at all?is whispered or elicits a sneer.

Ring a bell? It would in lots of cubicles and offices across America. So what happened? Was the idea to try teams a bad one? The answer, I believe, is a clear and resounding NO! The problem was not with teams. This is a description of what can happen in any organizational change effort and isn't about teams.

The truth is that the boss probably didn't understand the complexity of the task, failed to count the costs and pay the price. Building effective teams is complex, takes a lot of thought and work, and requires long-term commitment. Just as there are different kinds of tasks, there are different kinds of teams; it's not a "one size fits all" kind of thing. A team isn't the right structure for every task and sometimes may even be counterproductive.

But done right, with people who know how to do it, management who knows how to support it, and leaders who understand the process, teams can be a superior organizational structure and tool. People in teams can (not necessarily do) accomplish much, much more than those same individuals working separately. Companies that have realized the complexity, counted the costs, and paid the price have reaped the benefits.

Smart leaders and managers know this. That's why virtually every study of the skills organizations expect their employees to develop places interpersonal competence in a team setting near the top of the list. Understanding the basics is the first step. This section starts at the beginning. Here you'll find information about the why, when, how, how big, and who of teams

Business Management, Management Studies

  • Category:- Business Management
  • Reference No.:- M926692

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