We often lose clarity rather than gain it in an area that enjoys a resurgence of focus and research. Team effectiveness is one of those areas that has gotten a lot of attention recently, and many professionals are still scratching their heads. Regardless of widely varying opinions, surveys and research findings, one thing we know for sure is that teams are both a success and a catastrophe. That is, their efficacy is polarized; they often lead to greater productivity, and just as often, their efforts seem to be all but wasted, and they diminish into one more empty campaign introduced by a popular leadership guru or author.
According to a psychology professor at Harvard University, work teams cluster at opposite ends of the success continuum. We also have a greater knowledge of what distinguishes the successful teams from the all out failures. Here are the findings:
What Are Team Effectiveness Skills, Anyway?
Successful teams favor consistent, periodic training sessions versus one intensive training session and just as important is time spent working together and gathering experience as a group. Team members also must be given the opportunity to stretch with each new project or phase of a project, and the responsibility for giving them the ability to grow lies with the leader.
Neither a Dictator nor Collaborator Be
Many leaders maintain their traditional, didactic boss demeanor when working with a team. The flip side is the ultimate collaborator, who gives up all authority to move the team ahead when it is hungry for leadership. The best solution lies in between; successful team leaders back off from the patterns of a traditional boss while maintaining a certain amount of leadership in the group.
Rewards for Successful Teams
One difficult part of the surge in teamwork mentality is that most American companies’ compensation programs are based solely on individual performance. If an organization is serious about building a team culture, then measurement tools (at least a cursory program) must be in place and compensation or other rewards should be tied to team performance.
All in all, teams are important and the results of teams can be remarkable. But if they are left on their own to develop and grow, they may not produce the desired results. They need to be fostered and led. Members need to know that their efforts at becoming a better team are valued by the organization.