Social Issues / Reaching Team Success

Reaching Team Success

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Autor:  anton  08 December 2010
Tags:  Reaching,  Success
Words: 1358   |   Pages: 6
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Reaching Team Success

An Examination of What Makes Teams Successful

A car is a collection of individual parts. Each individual part has an assigned place and task within the car. Together all the parts work together with the goal of making the car drive. Like a car, a team is a collection of individuals working together on a task. If the parts in a car are in the wrong place or made incorrectly they will not work together properly. When individuals come together to form a team, there can be problems because of the differences between individuals. In order for a team to work past differences and accomplish a task the team must share accountability, contribution, and values. For a team to accomplish tasks and become successful it must work with efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness, and ultimately cohesion.

A team is made up of individuals. As individuals, each member of a team brings his or here own unique style, needs, desires, values, and goals to the group. Naturally, there will be differences between individuals and conflicts within the group. Differences in experience, learning style, and personality type can all be cause for tension in a team. Another source of tension is each individual’s sense of identity. In their article, Locander and Luechauer identify several tensions that can develop when a team comes together, the most significant being identity. “Identity involves the tension between maintaining a sense of self and attempting to integrate. When an individual’s desired behavior conflicts with the group’s prescribed behavior, the pressure mounts for both parties,” (Locander & Luechauer, 2006). Conflicts caused by identity are common in all stages of team development and can hamper the efforts of a team to complete tasks, work toward goals, or develop into a successful team.

So how can a team knead out the tensions and work past conflict that is bound to arise when a group of individuals comes together? In order to minimize tension and work through conflict a team must establish mutual accountability, shared contribution, and shared values. Sevier (2006) lists accountability as the number one quality of effective teams. He points out that “effective teams don’t have slackers,” and that while individuals may have different talents all team members must “have the same level of commitment,” (Sevier, 2006, p. 27). Development of trust in a team requires that all team members trust their counterparts are equally vested in the team efforts and task. The best way for a team to maintain mutual accountability is to develop operational principles and a strong set of ground rules. “Basic ground rules foster trust and openness. They establish common expectation for members’ behavior and provide a guide for how the team will operate,” (McKenna & Maister, 2002, p. 9). Ground rules that are developed and agreed upon by all team members, consistently adhered to and enforced, and that are associated with consequences will ensure mutual accountability within a team.

Shared contribution is another key element in minimizing tensions in a group. Any team working to complete a task has an expectation of membership. For example, if one were on a sports team with the expectation of winning games, the price of membership may be participation in practice, maintaining physical health, and playing in the game. In a learning or business team there are tasks that must be completed and sacrifices that must be made by all members. The key to avoiding tension is ensuring that all team members make the same level of sacrifice. When a team establishes “a level of shared contribution… they increase the likelihood that everyone will freely cooperate, contribute, and be committed to achieving reciprocal benefits from working together,” (McKenna & Maister, 2002, p. 10). Without shared contribution team members will question one another’s efforts. If individuals are not sure that their team members are contributing equally feelings of frustration and mistrust can develop. When a team establishes that all team members are expected to contribute equally each member will be willing to do his or her part.

A third way a team can reduce tension and work past conflict is with the development of shared values. Team values include expectations for task behaviors as well as maintenance behaviors. Expectations relating to task behavior include attendance, task completion, task quality, and task distribution. Values for maintenance behaviors include guidelines for the way team members interact with each other and develop relationships. It is crucial that a group decide early on what the shared values and expectations of the team are. It is also important to highlight the team’s commitment to excellence while outlining what will not be tolerated. As cited by McKenna and Maister (2002), “hand-in-hand with inspiration is a level of intolerance that the organization must assert to be credible. You cannot tell a person that the [team] is committed to being the best without underscoring the things that the [team] cannot allow,” (p.12).

Mutual accountability, shared contribution, and shared values are key elements that reduce tension and conflict as a team works to complete a task. Completing a task is not sole factor in team success. In order for a team to be successful, they must be a cohesive unit that works with efficiency, effectiveness, and timeliness. Forrester and Tashchian (2006) define cohesion “as the tendency of a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of objectives and the satisfaction of members’ needs,” (p. 458). They point out that cohesion includes both “task cohesion” that includes a team’s incentive to complete assignments and goals, as well as “social cohesion” that includes a team’s incentive to advance and preserve relationships within the team.

Three major elements are instrumental in a team forming a cohesive working unit. First, effectiveness “refers to the overall quality of the team’s work and the team’s ability to meet its goals,” (Forrester & Taschcian, 2006, p. 459). A team that works together with effectiveness will produce high quality work that satisfies the team’s values and goals. A second element of cohesion is efficiency. In addition to completing tasks and goals with effectiveness, a team must work together to complete all designated tasks while staying on schedule. Lastly, a team must be timely. “Timeliness indicates the speed with which the team performs its work for the level of quality that results,” (Forrester & Taschcian, 2006, p. 460). In the study presented by Forrester and Taschcian (2006), they conclude that these three elements are highly influential to improving the outcome of “group performance, productivity, and achievement,” (p. 458) and are essential to overall team success.

As a collection of individuals, a team is a beneficial tool in both the school and business world. Though differences in individuals can create tension and lead to conflict, there are tools that can reduce and resolve. Mutual accountability, shared contribution, and shared values are important factors in ensuring that a team can work with minimal tension while completing a task. Additionally, a team must also incorporate effectiveness, efficiency, and timeliness to be a truly successful team.


Aritzeta, A., Ayestaran, S., & Swailes, S. (2005). Team role preference and conflict management styles. The International Journal of Conflict Management, 16, 157-182.

Asmus, C. L., & James, K. (2005). Nominal group technique, social loafing, and group creative project quality. Creativity Research Journal, 17, 349-354.

Forrester, W. R., & Tashchian, A. (2006, September). Modeling the relationship between cohesion and performance in student work groups. International Journal of Management, 23, 458-464.

Locander, W. B., & Luechauer, D. L. (2006, March/April). Look for the I; successfully manage the tensions between individual and group. Leadership Journey, 44-46.

Maister, D. H., & Page 6 3/11/07 McKenna, P. J. (2002, September/October). Playing by the rules. Industrial Management, 8-13.

Sevier, R. A. (2006, September). Moving a team forward. University Business, 27-28.

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