Team Effectiveness and Success Factors

Introduction

In our lives, there are various competitive forces that pressure us to increase our productivity and exhibit high levels of performance in order to succeed. As such, we often try to find innovative ways that can give us a competitive advantage against other competitors. With this realization, people often forge collaborative relations in order to accomplish particular tasks. Working in a team environment has its benefits and costs.

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However, if managed properly, working in teams can help individuals achieve their personal goals, as well as the collective goals in any endeavor. In this paper, I shall reflect on the effectiveness of my team. This shall be done by analyzing various factors that enabled us to achieve our goals, and those that threatened the successful completion of the presentation project assignment.

Team Building: a Brief Overview

Morgan (2006), states that in any team, there must be observable characteristics of cooperation and coordination as members of the team try to achieve their common and quantifiable goals. As such, team effectiveness is determined by the ability of a team to develop specific and collective goals, and coordinate efforts towards achieving the set goals. These characteristics were present in my team and they played a pivotal role in building a strong and effective team.

Similarly, Tannenbaum, Beard and Salas (1992), assert that team effectiveness is profoundly influenced by the team building strategies employed to improve the operations and processes of the team. In this regard, my team improved its operations and processes by applying the problem-solving approach of team building (Tannenbaum, Beard & Salas, 1992). Through this approach, we were able to evaluate the task, identify the problem, discuss alternatives, and develop an action plan on how the identified problem would be solved (Schneider et al, 2008).

Factors that impacted my Team’s Effectiveness

Team Characteristic

According to Tannenbaum, Beard and Salas (1992), various team characteristics play a significant role towards facilitating its effectiveness. The authors mention the presence of homogeneity and cohesiveness as the main catalysts of team effectiveness (Tannenbaum, Beard & Salas, 1992). Similarly, Sashkin (2003), states that having a common mission and vision can help individuals in a team environment foster cohesiveness, thereby leading to the creation of an effective team. My team members and I set our mission and vision, and despite the challenges we faced, these aspects helped us get back on track.

Another team characteristic that influenced the effectiveness of my team was power distribution. In most cases, teams often select a leader who monitors and controls the team’s progress and activities. In my team, members suggested that we do not elect a team leader in order to facilitate evenness. As London (2002) states, a leader can help team members resolve conflicts and make decisions diplomatically.

The author further defines diplomacy as the use of one’s power and authority carefully in order to yield positive results by reaching a consensus (London, 2002). While my team’s lack of a leader meant that each member had equal power, it paved the way to conflicts of opinion and decision making. As a result, some team members were not pleased by the outcome of the presentation, because they felt underrepresented.

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Work Structure

Tannenbaum, Beard and Salas (1992), assert that a team can use several ways to approach and execute a task. They state that team members “can be given individual roles or exchange roles as needed (Tannenbaum, Beard and Salas, 1992, p.123).” the authors also reveal that the communication structure is an essential element in defining a team’s work structure. In this regard, my team members and I took advantage of technological advancements in a bid to foster effective communication during the preparation stage of the assignment.

We used various forms of technology to communicate. They included Facebook, group chat, mobile phones, emails, and also face to face interactions. Through these forms of communication, the team was able to interact and communicate effectively. As a result, members were able to support each other whenever needed, and we were able to complete the assignment on time. According to Greene and Burleson (2003), a team should develop appropriate communication channels in order to avoid misunderstandings and distortion of facts. The communication channels we selected were effective and enabled us to stay in touch as often as required and kept us updated on the progress of the assignment.

Individual Characteristics

As human beings, we differ from each other in regard to skills, abilities and mental models (Tannenbaum, Beard and Salas, 1992). As such, a team with better individual task proficiency and skills is bound to perform better than that with inferior skills and abilities. This means that if a team consists of members with outstanding individual abilities, it will perform better at any given task. One of the desirable individual characteristic that made our team successful was motivation. According to Kondalkar (2002, p.245), motivation is “the process of stimulating people to action to accomplish desired goals.”

On the same note, Chapman and Hopwood (2007), state that the expectancy theory of motivation assumes that people select action plans, performance levels and occupations that meet their expectations while minimizing the chances of failure. This theory suggests that an individual is motivated by his/her expectations in a given task. My team members and I were motivated by our desire to attain high marks in the presentation. Despite the challenges that we faced, individual members performed their level best in order to achieve the set goal. As a result, we were able to complete the task on time, and submitted a high quality presentation.

Factors that threatened My Team’s Success

In any given situation, there may be factors that interfere with the processes, or hinder people from achieving their goals within the set timeframe. In my team’s case, the loss of a team member during the early stages made the team re-evaluate the tasks and thus more time was wasted. On the same note, there were members that tried to dominate the discussions and progress of the assignment in order to focus on their own interests and ideas.

This was particularly costly because more time was wasted and members could not agree on the best way forward. According to Kolin (2009), group work should not be about domination, but instead, it should focus on sharing and exchanging ideas among members. The team suffered because members became aggressive and territorial. As such, valuable time that could have been used to address the fundamental issues was wasted on petty arguments and conflict resolution.

In addition, our decision to establish a team without a leader was wrong. As mentioned earlier, a leader can facilitate the effectiveness of a team by delegating duties, resolving conflicts and scheduling events. Since we had no leader, each team member had different timetable and different schedules. This made getting together and finishing the tasks on time difficult.

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Recommendations for Future Team Work

In light of the challenges we faced as a team, I believe that leadership plays a pivotal role in the management, control and organization of a team. As such, I will advocate that we select a team leader in all my future teams. This will ensure that meetings are scheduled correctly, members are updated on any changes, and conflicts and decisions are dealt with in an appropriate manner. In my opinion, if we had a leader, some of the challenges we faced during the assignment could have been avoided or minimized.

On the same note, I will advocate for the creation of a team culture based on openness, trust and understanding. Such qualities will enable members to air their views freely without fear of judgments or disappointments. During our team work, I realized that some members declined to participate fully. This was because of dominant members who made others feel inadequate. Establishing such a team culture will give members a sense of belonging, thereby encouraging them to participate more in team activities.

Conclusion

Team effectiveness depends on many factors as has been revealed in this reflection. Team members should ensure that they cooperate and coordinate with each other as they work towards attaining their collective goals. In addition, teams should develop appropriate communication channels in order to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. Understanding individual characteristics may help a team understand its strengths and weaknesses. Such an understanding may be used to maximize on the team’s strengths, while addressing its weaknesses. If these recommendations are followed, teams in various fields will be able to succeed in all their endeavors regardless of the prevailing conditions.

References

Chapman, S., & Hopwood, G. (2007). Handbook of management accounting research. North Holland: Elsevier Science.

Greene, O., & Burleson, R. (2003). Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills. New York: Routledge.

Kolin, C. (2009). Successful Writing at Work. New York: Cengage Learning.

Kondalkar, P. F. (2002). Organization effectiveness and change management. California: PHI learning Pvt. Ltd.

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London, M. (2002). Leadership Development: Paths to Self-insight and Professional Growth. New York: Routledge.

Morgan, G. (2006). Images of Organization. Chicago: Sage.

Sashkin, G. (2003). Leadership that matters: the critical factors for making a difference in people’s lives and organizations’ success. London: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Schneider, M., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2008). Groups: process and practice. New York: Cengage Learning.

Tannenbaum, S., Beard, R., & Salas, E. (1992). Team building and its influence on team effectiveness: An examination of conceptual and empirical developments. North Holland: Elsevier Science.

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