Are there benefits in having teams ?

In brief, a team of people can achieve far more than the sum of the total of the individuals skills alone. Wikipedia states that a 2003 survey (HOW-FAR) revealed that Americans think that being a team player was the most important factor in getting ahead in the workplace.

What exactly is a team?

Well this depends on the definition you use. It can be a group of people united by a common business goal, a group of people committed to achieving common objectives. Teams can achieve so much and this is the reason so much time and effort is spent on building teams and developing teams. Surf the net and type in “team building” on a search engine like Google and you’ll get 33,300,000 results – the majority of which will be trying to sell you team building events.

Why the interest in team building?

Well, look what teams in a business environment can achieve:

  • They can generate a wider range of ideas and innovation than individuals;
  • They are able to motivate themselves;
  • They can bounce ideas off each team member;
  • They often take more risks than individuals;
  • They have a range of personalities such as workers, thinkers, leaders who contribute the right balance of skills necessary to achieve high performance;
  • They support each other and are not just task-orientated;
  • They can be a support mechanism which provide mentoring and allow others to grow in self-confidence

If you have the individuals with the potential to create a high performing team, just imagine what they could achieve for your sales, productivity or bottom line!

However, it is important for people to recocognise that there is a difference between team building and team development or team working. Team building involves bringing together new teams and giving them a sense of direction, a period of getting to know their colleagues, recognising skills and abilities. Team development is the next stage, which involves teamworking skills such as sharing ideas, co-operating, being open and supporting one another. A common mistake our clients make when they first approach is to confuse the term team building with team working. We believe that if you cannot define the problem, then it is difficult to fix it.

A 4-stage process in team development

B W Tuckman expresses this as a 4-stage process in team development:

1. Forming

  • The group gets together for the first time
  • Formal rules of working are yet to be established

2. Storming

  • Following the forming stage members grow in confidence and an amount of in-fighting is likely

3. Norming

  • Now the group moves onto establish norms in the form of systems and procedures

4. Performing

  • Finally the group becomes far more of a cohesive unit and starts to perform as a team.

How do you build a successful and high performing team?

This is a good question and if you look at all the 33 million search results on Google, you’ll find many people professing to know the answer. Our advice is to consult the experts as they have the experience to help. However, be careful as you may not be able to see the wood for the trees. You know what you need from your teams, you know the individuals. What you need from an expert is not for them to preach to you but to help individuals learn for themsleves through experiential learning. Let the experts give you the structure and context within which you can build your teams back in the workplace.

A final thought on building teams

Just one final point to think on – successful teams are led from the front by people who know what they want and can inspire others to achieve greatness.

For more information on building high performing teams visit the team building page