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Team development * A procedure To increase Operate Group Success

Also normally group building is certainly one of those vague, misused terms managers contact into play as a panacea for sluggish operate unit efficiency. The rise in the reputation and use of group developing has paralleled the growing perception of perform because the output of teams of workers rather than as compartmentalized tasks on an assembly line. Field Research Findings, for instance the ones carried out by the American Productivity & Quality Center during their white-collar productivity improvement, multi-organizational field investigation efforts clearly demonstrate the importance of effective team structures to the overall overall performance effectiveness of the knowledge/service worker.

The building of a group requires a great deal more effort than simply recognizing the interdependence among workers and work units. It requires, instead, several carefully managed steps and is an ongoing cyclical process. The team-building process presented in this article offers the members of a function group a way to observe and analyze behaviors and activities that hinder their effectiveness and to develop and implement courses of action that overcome recurring problems.

While the underlying purpose of group constructing is to develop a more effective perform group, the specific purposes of the process will depend largely upon the assessment of information gathered during the initial data collection phase. Typically, team developing will seek to resolve at least one of the following three issues: 1. A lack of clear goals and expected efficiency outcomes: Frequently, interview data from operate group members reveal that their performance is generally directed by their individual (and often conflicting) functionality goals. In that situation, the team-building model can be directed at establishing overall work group goals, which affect both individual and group effort and behavior, and, ultimately, the overall performance outcomes at both the individual, as well as the group level.

2. Interpersonal conflict and distrust: A lack of trust, supportiveness and communication not only slows down the day-to-day ability of a group to get perform done, but also stands within the way of resolving the conflicts that naturally arise as the group makes decisions about its future efforts.

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One way to overcome this is to focus on the operate problems and improved interpersonal skills necessary for the group to work inter-dependently and more effectively to accomplish the task. In other words, the interpersonal data would be derived from the operate context itself rather than from evaluations directed at individual personalities within the group. It is a concerted effort to uncover mutual needs and desired outcomes ... a Win-Win approach.

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3. A lack of clear roles and leadership: Obviously, duplications of effort result in sub-optimum levels of productivity. But when initial interviews with work unit members suggest confusion over roles, the issues that surface may go well beyond task-specific problems. They may raise questions about who is providing leadership to the group, who feels empowered to act, what sources of power are being wielded and what interpersonal and inter-group relations underlie the group's effectiveness. When these issues arise, the team-building model uses group meetings to discuss and clarify members' roles and responsibilities - both prescribed and discretionary Who are the "players" within the group creating process?

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On the surface, a "team" suggests a group of interchangeable individuals of equal status. But in reality, most workplace teams have a supervisor or manager charged with leadership and accountability for the group's efficiency. Consequently, the team leader plays an important and somewhat different role than do other members in a successful team building effort. Support from the leader is vital because if he or she does not recognize and accept the need for group creating, it is unlikely that other members of the work team will be very receptive to the idea. The Value and Role of a Facilitator-Coach.

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In addition to the leader and other group members, successful team developing calls for a third party participant inside the process - a Facilitator-Coach, a professional with knowledge and experience inside the field of applied behavioral science, but who is not a regular member of the group. This person may be an internal resource person in the organization or be someone from outside the parent company/organization.. There are several roles, which this Facilitator-Coach may perform in group developing. Perhaps the most common and critical is that of third-party facilitator, a "gate-keeper." The Facilitator-Coach also trains and coaches the team in becoming more skillful in understanding, identifying, diagnosing and solving its efficiency problems. To do this, the Facilitator-Coach gathers data needed for the team to conduct its own self- appraisal and structures a "safe" environment that encourages team collaboration and consensus developing. As a change agent, the Facilitator-Coach also serves as a catalyst to help bring about a greater degree of openness and trust and increased communication effectiveness. Another role of the Facilitator-Coach is that of a knowledge resource person, assisting team members to learn more about group dynamics, individual behavior and the skills needed to become more effective as a group and as individuals.

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The Facilitator-Coach should generally avoid assuming the role of the "expert." That is, the Facilitator-Coach's major function is not to directly resolve the team's problems, but to help the group learn how to cope with its own problems and become more self-sufficient. If the Facilitator-Coach becomes the controlling force responsible for resolving the group's difficulties, he or she has denied the group the opportunity to grow by facing and resolving problems confronting them.

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What are the steps in the team-building process? At the core of the process will be a a well-defined process that is made up of a series of structured experiences and events, ones that will be repeated over time, that have been designed to help the group build and sustain a cohesive, effective, and ultimately, a high-performing operate group. This process requires carefully laid groundwork as well as long- term follow up and re-evaluation. And further, team creating, to be successful in developing and sustaining high overall performance, must be viewed and accepted as being a "continuous" and on-going process, not an "event" driven activity.

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Team building, from a systems perspective, requires several carefully thought out and managed steps and is clearly understood to be an ongoing cyclical process. The team-building process offers members of a function group a way to observe and analyze behaviors and activities that hinder their effectiveness and to develop and implement courses of action that overcome recurring problems. If successfully implemented, the group developing process is integrated into the operate team's day-to-day operations.

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Assuming perform group manager-leader and group members, after having an opportunity to become aware of what the team building process has to offer and requires of them, have indicated and voiced their support for the team building process, the first preparatory step is the introduction of the Facilitator-Coach to the group. Frequently this is done by the group leader during a regular staff meeting at which the Facilitator-Coach is introduced to the group. The role of the Facilitator-Coach is discussed as well as the process and potential benefits of team building.

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In preparation for the kick-off of the team-building process, the Facilitator-Coach will then take responsibility for the next step - the gathering of data from each group member about the "strengths" and "weaknesses" of the group and barriers to effective team overall performance. This diagnostic phase will typically make use of questionnaires and/or interviews.


he use of personal interviews has several advantages. First, interviews provide the Facilitator-Coach a better understanding of the group, its functions and its problems. Second, interviews enable the Facilitator-Coach to develop rapport with group members and to begin to establish a relationship of openness and trust. Third, interviews provide the opportunity for each individual team member to participate within the identification of the work group's strengths and weaknesses. Finally, personal interviews are flexible. On the other hand, the less flexible questionnaire approach ensures that common areas will be covered by all team members.

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After conducting the interviews or surveys, the Facilitator-Coach summarizes the information, which is to be fed back to the group during the team-building meeting. A useful way of presenting the comments is according to the frequency with which the items were mentioned or accorded to major problem areas. During the actual team-building meeting, the data feedback session becomes a springboard for the rest of the session's activities. With the assistance and support of the Facilitator-Coach, the group then formulates an agenda and decides on the priorities of the issues raised by the diagnostic phase.

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Before the team-building meeting ends, action plans are developed which specify the steps the group will take in attempting to resolve specific problems. What factors influence the success of team building? Because effective group constructing is not a one-shot affair, a schedule of future team- developing efforts needs to be established. For lasting change to take place, subsequent meetings will need to review the implementation of action plans and investigate additional problem areas.

As mentioned earlier, the support and commitment of the formal team leader (Perform Group Manager) are critical to successful group constructing. His or her attitude toward the process has an obvious impact upon other team members. Furthermore, because discussion sometimes centers on the team leader's behavior, he or she has to be open to constructive criticism.

The leader must also fully understand team creating, its time requirements and implications. The leader's own personality and leadership style influence the probability of the success of tear-n developing. If the team manager is not comfortable with a participative style of leadership, team development simply will not work. The other group members should also want to become involved in the effort and believe in its relevance. Otherwise, group creating may be viewed as a ploy by the leader to pacify the group or simply as a substitute for effective management. Each individual within the group should be part of the effort and feel personally secure to participate in the process.

Since the team-building efforts may create a change inside the relationship between the team and the organization, the support of executive management is also vital. The chances for a successful team-building effort are improved if the group has knowledge of any organizational constraints on the options for making changes within the group.

The timing of team constructing is another critical factor. If the group is experiencing turmoil or confusion over its direction (mission, goals, purpose, objectives, leadership, changes, etc.), the time could be ripe for team-building efforts to begin because the members may feel a need to establish what is expected of them. Thus, their receptivity to the process is normally increased under such destabilizing conditions. Finally, team constructing requires adequate time for the activities to take effect. Relatively large blocks of time and even changes inside the operate setting are sometimes needed for group developing. Separation from the workplace during the initial group meeting phase of the process is frequently needed to avoid operate pressures and interruptions and to help generate greater commitment and increased concentration from team members. What are the results of successful group building? The team-building process may affect several levels within the organization. First, the individuals inside the team may become more sensitive to the impact of their behavior on the effective functioning of the group. More self-awareness may also lead to changed behavior patterns. For example, recognition by the team leader that he or she does not share leadership and decision making with others may provide the impetus to adopt a more participative style.

Second, team building may help group members realize that different and better approaches exist to the way the team operates and performs its perform. Third, team building may affect the relation- ship of the group to the rest of the organization. For example, a group member may stop using other parts of the organization as scapegoats to hide his or her own inefficient operations. Ultimately, greater harmony among organizational units could well result.

John N. Younker, Ph.D. John Younker is the President and co-founder of Associates In Continuous Improvement, a Houston, Texas based advisory and educational resource to executives and senior managers. Additionally, he has served, since 1993, as a Chair for Vistage International (formerly The Executive Committee - TEC), a developmental resource for CEO's and Presidents. John also makes the time to serve as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston's Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship and as a Guest Lecturer for the Eisenhower Leadership Series, George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Former roles include the Director of the Our Lady of the Lake University - Houston MBA Program., Senior Vice President for The Institute, Inc. and Vice President and Senior Field Researcher at the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC). John works with a broad range of client organizations, is a frequent speaker and lecturer, and is a well-published author. John holds a Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Memphis.
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