Most people like to think of themselves as team players in public it is fashionable to say I’m all for teams. But when a person gets back to their organizations with 13 pressures, demands, politics, egos, and self-interest; teamwork is right out the window. Chris Argyris, an expert on group dynamics, describes this phenomenon as what is exposed versus what is used. The challenge faced by many R&D organizations is to help individuals in them walk the talk, achieve higher levels of performance, enhance unity, and renew team spirit.
The TechNet project teams a group of competent individuals who care deeply about each other, who are fiercely committed to their mission, and who are highly motivated to combine their energy and expertise to achieve a common objective. Three primary conditions have to be met in order to it obtain such higher levels of team performance and member satisfaction. These three conditions are the heart solo teamwork. That said, these conditions are not a blueprint. Each group is unique, and the specifics and details of teamwork have to be worked out by the individuals therein separately.
Condition 1: Resources and Commitment.
Strong personal commitment and a leap of faith are needed to start up and sustain tightknit teams. Genuine energy and resources required during the early stages. For example, important non-task time is needed for teams to meet and establish identity, expectations, spirit, and bonds. Patience is required for learning, coaching and behavior change that is consistent with team principles. Investment in teamwork is very intangible. You can’t measure it like most corporate assets that can be stored in an inventory. It is not a liquid asset that can be sold off for profit if you have a couple of bad quarters. Teamwork requires a lot of care, sensitivity, and patience for it to pay off in the long run.
It doesn’t take much to bring a group of individuals together to do a job especially if you’re depending on just a compensation package to get them to produce. Teamwork on the other hand, takes a deep personal commitment and belief in team synergy and collaboration. Some managers harbor the belief that work only gets done when there is a singular powerful, expert, authoritative figure running group work. This leads to personal competition. Competition can be fun and rewarding if this powerful drive is focused onto the right target. The problem is that in a lot of situations teamwork is killed by friendly fire. In other words competitive energies are directed at looking better than the other person or looking better than the other teams in the organization. Often people compete for personal rewards at the expense of others. Thus the organization’s reward system must be based on teamwork and made a priority.
Condition 2: Ownership and Heart.
The second condition necessary for teamwork to blossom requires that an organization operate from the inside out. This means that people have to work hard at developing team friendly attitudes, values and beliefs. Teamwork functions best when people believe it from the heart and act or think with integrity in a way that is aligned with basic team principles. Tightly knit teams are built on attitudes, mindset, and values as much as on policy and systems to support them. Management stakeholders must have a passion for, and take personal responsibility for, quality teamwork. That said, members of teams can’t expect only upper management install teamwork and nurture. Seeds of teamwork have to be planted, cared for, and developed by the members themselves. Teamwork doesn’t come from just the outside-in, it comes from the inside-out too.
A team cannot fulfill its potential and solve problems if issues and concerns are not identified and surfaced. In any social structure, if people are not willing to take responsibility, get involved or are interested in what is going on, they deserve what luck will give them. Members forgo their right to complain about the level of morale and the quality of work life if they don’t assume responsibility. The key challenge in a high-performing team-based organizations, is to teach and empower people to be more proactive. The primary enemy of good team behavior is the mindset, paradigms, values and beliefs that members of the workgroup possess. Teamwork prospers when everyone is willing to give up some of their control needs, let go of past baggage, break down the fences and silos the divide teams, begin exercising good team principles and processes, and become what is referred to as a seamless organization. Team members themselves can determine and control whether the resources will be managed effectively, how they treat other, and how well they communicate with each other, whether or not they will speak up and team meetings, the amount of caring and sensitivity they will show to each other, whether they will support their leadership, and display a level of self-management. The team environment needs to be supported by the Corporation’s vision, mission, values, and strategies. Team members really must feel that the rules and procedures put in place will be followed and supported by everyone.
Condition 3: Learning.
In order to harvest the enormous power of teamwork, the team members’ knowledge, skills, and abilities have to be sharpened. Without the skills and behavior, the values alone will not produce results. Likewise good skills and techniques without the heart and soul of values will likely be perceived as manipulative.