Monday, 11 January 2010

‘A team or A-team?’

There is a difference.....

According to Katzenbach (2007:38) a team is:

‘A small number of people with complementary skills, who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.’

Notice the word complimentary – indicating that everyone works together for the benefit of the task. A team is different to a group of people simply working together.

Kirby (2003:190) states that team work requires energy combined with patience, clear leadership, intense relationships, total trust, learning from failure and rules of behaviour that are understood by all members.

Needless to say these are things that are easier said than done. There is bound to be disagreement in groups – however this can be minimised...

To structure my dream team I have decided to use the Belbin team roles.

I prefer to work in smaller groups as I find communication more effective and there is less chance for people to become ‘social loafers’ on the basis they think someone else will take up the slack. My dream team members know their team roles and understand their strengths and weaknesses. I am a shaper so am able to motivate a team and get the work started however I am in need of a completer- finisher as they have an attention to detail that I lack but I work well with them because they possess the same sense of urgency that I do so will be good at meeting schedules that are set. An implementer would also have a place in my dream team because of their characteristic loyalty and lack of interest with self-interest. I like working with people who have good self-discipline and who have common sense; these are characteristics which implementers foster.

As much as I hate to admit it I think I would need a monitor evaluator in my group, someone who takes a step back to look at things objectively and critically. Otherwise I am likely to take an idea and run with it and not think about all the factors. I do think I would get slightly irritated with their analysing mentality...however this is something I would have to accept in order to utilise their skills and benefit the team.

One team role I feel I could do without in my group is that of resource investigator. There role includes finding external contacts and promising ideas or opportunities. However because of them losing interest in the task once the initial excitement has passed I would find them very challenging to work with. Perhaps this is more to do with my leadership style – I like people to motivate themselves and have the same level of interest in the task at hand as I do. I would constantly have to motivate them and make sure their lack of enthusiasm didn’t rub off on the rest of the group – plus if someone isn’t interested in a task it’s guaranteed they won’t be working to the best of their ability.

With all team roles there are undesirable qualities and this is something I have learnt. However if all team members understand each other’s weaknesses but use their strengths then the team will work well. Before this group task and particularly last year I had a strong dislike for people challenging my ideas and took it as a personal attack. However I have now learnt that there will always be people who challenge them....and its often how you get the best ideas and it’s nothing personal. I never thought I would say can’t surround yourself with ‘yes men’ otherwise you won’t push yourself. Of course you would get ‘good’ ideas but they wouldn’t be the best. As a leader and a team member you have to be willing to learn from your mistakes and this includes admitting them. Its often better if an idea doesn’t go as planned because then you can get constructive criticism and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Members have their own strengths and weaknesses and it is up to others to bring out the best. There needs to be a common set of goals to work towards and all parties need to be agreed on these. There also needs to be communication both inside and outside the task at hand – even if it is just a ‘Hi – How are you?’ message. This is something I have learnt as being friends with some of the members of my team meant that I can work with them better as I understand the reasons they are the way they are.

One role of a leader that I would like to work on in the future is that of developing others and making sure they get something out of the group work. I want people to feel positively after working with me and want to work with me again. That doesn’t just mean getting a good mark but I would like a reputation as someone who not only works hard, gets the work done but is nice to work with...there is a fine line between getting the work done and just being mean. As people get to know me within the group situation they see that I am softer than initially thought but not a pushover. There is the old army saying:

‘One volunteer is worth 10 pressed men’

It’s true. I am glad I have realised this now and it will certainly be something that I remember in future.

Clutterbuck, D. (2007) Coaching the Team and Work, Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Kirby, DA., (2003) Entrepreneurship, Mcgraw Hill Education

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