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TEAM Building teams that ‘click’ By C V Subramaniam What is Team? A team is generally more than one individual, though many a time you come across terms such as ‘ one-man team’ or ‘one-man committee’ etc. A team is normally constituted for a particular task, sometimes complicated, where each member focuses on the task or problem and contributes towards resolving it successfully. In some cases, each member is assigned a particular component of the whole task (Eg. writing a report). The task sometimes involves a sequential performance where the second or next member depends on the completion of a particular component of the task, by the first member, after which alone could the next member do some further work on it towards completing the main task, typical in assembly line. On the other hand, sometimes, everyone is engaged in parallel on accomplishing parts of the whole job or task and then the final integration is done (Eg. writing different chapters of a detailed Report) Very often, the entire team discusses one particular issue from all angles to find the best possible solution. Whatever way this is accomplished, every individual’s contribution matters and that too with the specific goal in mind. According to Katzenbach and Smith, ‘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 are mutually accountable’. The letters in the word TEAM can be expanded as Total Effort of All Members. Why Team? Nobody can be independent in this world and continue to live alone, without some kind of dependence on others for something. In our everyday life, we all work as some kind of a team, despite there being a formally constituted team as such, and without any knowledge of it. Teams for Various Purposes Complex matters, major missions/projects Sometimes in order to solve a complex matter and to get a suitable and workable solution, a specific team is constituted. Here, each member, while thinking of the specific problem, thinks from his/ her angle and eventually different ideas that emerge are discussed for the best solution. Successful large team work involves winning wars, missions to moon, mars etc. Teamwork in office An organization consists of several people. Viewed from the organization’s point of view, all the people who work in the organization form a whole team and irrespective of whether you call it so or not, it is and it has to work as a team, towards achieving the goals of the organization and not at cross purposes. Of course there could be teams, within the organization, constituted for various specific and complex tasks, needing the expertise of more than one individual. The most common example of a team in an office/organization is the Recruitment Team or the Job Interview Committee. Teamwork in Government Take the Government, for instance. Even here, there are GOMs (Group of Ministers), Cabinet Committee, Empowered Committees etc. for specific issues. The main benefit of a team is that it stands to gain from the collective wisdom, expertise, ideas of the members who constitute the team. Teamwork in sports A few good examples are of course cricket, football and basketball where the individual players have to care more for the team’s success, while at the same time personal achievement also helps the team to succeed. Understanding within the team The most important points teams need to focus are: Work together Ensure harmony within the team Exhibit team spirit Focus on common goal(s) Respect the feelings, capabilities and contributions of the rest of the members Consider individual weaknesses and strengths Appreciate each other’s point of view. And, most important, the leader of the team has to ensure that its members work as a cohesive, whole unit. Managing and Building Team Managing a team in itself is a complex task, since the members who constitute the team may have varied interests and there could be a tendency to outsmart other members. A competent manager has to understand the weaknesses and strengths of all its members and should always work to motivate them to focus on the common goal of the team. There is a need for perfect communication among the team members and the leader should keep this in mind, so that friction, delay etc. could be avoided. According to Alex “sandy” Pentland (HBR), ‘’how we communicate turns out to be the most important predictor of team success - and as important as all other factors combined, including intelligence, personality, skill and content of discussions.’ Again, there should be, what may be called, goal congruence. People should be managed in such a way that the synergy of 1 plus 1 should be not two, but eleven. The leader should also ensure that every member looks at the team as one collective unit, and the leader himself should always talk in terms of ‘we’. Ultimately the success or failure of the team, and the credit for success or the responsibility for failure should be owned by the group as a whole. Great teams are built through trust, communication, confidence and the will to succeed. According to Sun Tzu, ‘ There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combination of these give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard; there are not more than five colors yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever be seen; there are not more than five cardinal tastes - sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter - yet combination of them yield more flavors than can be tasted’. This only emphasizes that a good team, with a diversity of interests, aptitudes, skills, knowledge, expertise etc. could, through their combination (and of course the right combination), bring in what one calls ‘swarm intelligence’ and create wonders - a kind of ‘lightning-in-a-bottle stuff’ (to quote Pentland again) which just happens. PE C.V. Subramaniam is Former Director, Department of Electronics & IT, Government of India. Other major positions held include Chief Personnel Officer, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing; Officer on Special Duty, Science Advisory Council to Prime Minister. Email cvsambar@gmail.com Follow @cvsmaniam Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 10.2014 Submit your Articles 31


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