Belowis a report of a manager’s meeting discussing about establishingself-directed, high-performing teams. As is in this report, thediscussion identified difficulties the managers were having inestablishing self-directed, high-performing teams. The report alsoidentifies characteristics of successfully established self-directed,high-performing teams. To be more helpful to managers who are findingit difficult to build productive teams, the report has dependablerecommendations for success.
Thecompany has invested substantially in helping managers buildself-directed, high-performing teams. While some managers haveestablished self-directed, high-performing teams with remarkablesuccess, others have not. Studies have shown that self-directed teamsencourage creativity, empower workers, and enhance overall quality,yet many teams are failing. The whole idea of teamwork is to improvequality and promote productivity. However, lower quality levels andpoorer productivity have been recorded in some team environments.Seeing that some teams have been successful and others have failedmiserably, it underscores Scott and Townsend’s (1994) assertionthat performance between teams within the same organization can varyby up to 100 per cent.
Difficultieswhen establishing self-directed, high-performing teams
Managershave expressed exasperation, dissatisfaction and anger over someteams’repeatedinability and ineptitude to come up with gooddecisions. Among the things that thwart the establishment ofsuccessful self-directed, high-performing teams is that persons in ateam normally feel that other members of the team lower theirprobabilities for ‘personal successes’. High performers usuallyfeel that teams rob them of the opportunity to shine and theynormally frown on teams as their personal work ethic is commonly lessrecognized in a team environment. Many team members thus hesitate togive their contribution and repress their effort and opt to focustheir energies on personal goals (Bartol and Hagmann, 1992).
Anotherdifficulty thwarting the building of successful self-directedhigh-performing teams is that managers may fail to provide thesupport and the tools needed for the group to perform its dutiesbecause most of them aren’t conversant with the proper applicationof the team realm (Schilder, 1992). Managers also err when buildingsupportive frameworks for teams. For example, reward schemesencouraging persons to compete with each other erode teamwork. Teamsrequire good, long lasting organizational life support system.
Somemanagers are not ready to relinquish team control. Traditionalmanagers thrived by giving orders and making certain that they’refollowed, and it is difficult for them to change this approach. Otherdifficulties in building successful self-directed, productive teamsinclude:
Poor enlistment of teams
Lack of trust
Insufficient team skills training
Poor business practices and weak corporate strategies that teams cannot overcome
Hostile team environment, for example, competitive or individual reward schemes and command-and-control culture.
Characteristicsof successful self-directed, high-performing teams
Ofcourse the company wants high-performing, highly productive teams asopposed to low-performing teams. High-performing self-directed teamsare attributed by the characteristics described below.
Specific performance goals
Productiveand high-performing teams transform their general purpose intospecific performance goals. For instance, a broad directive like‘building top-class quality cars’ can be translated into‘reducing new-car flaws to less than four per car’. Indeed,translating broad directions into specific performance goals that aremeasurable is a sure starting point for a team attempting to shape ameaningful purpose to its members (Yeatts and Hyten, 1998).
Right mix, right size
Top-performingteams are generally composed of less than 25 people, and typicallyrange from 7 to 14 persons. Skills of members of the team shouldcomplement one another. A team would do best if it has people with astrong technical expertise, those with great problem solving skillsas well as interpersonal relationships and decision making skills.
Commitment to mission
Ateam should essentially have a strong commitment to a shared goal.Without this commitment, teams work as individuals, but with it,groups become powerful collective units.
Thebest-performing teams have mutual accountability. Members hold thatthey’re accountable for doing everything that’s needed to assistthe team accomplishes its mission. This mutual accountability is notcoerced rather, it’s built from trust and commitment that developsfrom working together to achieve a common goal.
Highlyproductive teams settle on a shared approach regarding how they’llwork together and get their mission done. For instance, team membersagree on who will do certain jobs, how decisions are reached,modified and so forth.
Effectiveteams have members who are interested and motivated to cooperate withothers in accomplishing important tasks. Members work together in amanner that their individual skills are employed in accomplishing acommon purpose. Members are committed to teamwork when they ‘reeager to listen as well as respond constructively to opinionsarticulated by others, provide support, as well as recognize theachievements and interests of others.
Heathfield(2008)emphasizes the ultimate objective of building a self-directed team is“to strive to enhance results for customers” and proposes 12 Csfor coming up with a successful self-directed team.
Expectationsshould be communicated effectively among team members.
Membersought to know why they’re part of the team.
Teammembers need to be motivated and interested in the mission of theteam.
Teammembers ought to have the skills, knowledge and capability toaccomplish the purpose of the team. Members need to feel that theyhave the necessary resources, support and strategies to do the thingswhich the team is meant to.
Goalsneed to be defined and communicated. The team designs its own vision,mission and strategies to achieve the goals within set timelines.
Theteam is sufficiently empowered and with enough freedom to completeits charter.
Membersshould understand group dynamics, their roles, and responsibilities,and has group rules and norms for meeting management, consensusdecision making and conflict resolution.
Memberscommunicate honestly and clearly with one another, can bring diverseopinions and necessary conflicts are raised and addressed.
Thecompany stimulates new thinking and welcomes new ideas, creativethinking and unique solutions.
Recognitionand rewards are given to successful teams.
Teamsare coordinated by a management team helps the teams get what theyrequire for success.
Thecompany needs to be prepared to change how it develops, motivates,rewards, appraises, manages and plans with the people it hires.
Bartol,K. M., &Hagmann, L. L. (1992). Team-Based Pay Plans A Key toEffective Teamwork. Compensation& Benefits Review,24(6),24-29.
Heathfield,S. (2008). Twelve tips for team building: how to build successfulwork teams. Cambridge:Cambridge Press.
Schilder,J. (1992). Work teams boost productivity. PersonnelJournal,3, 1-23.
Scott,K. D., & Townsend, A. (1994).Teams: why some succeed and othersfail.HRMagazine,39,8, 62-67.
Yeatts,D. E., & Hyten, C. (1998). High-performingself-managed work teams: A comparison of theory to practice.Sage.