Innovation

 

"The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit... This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done."

– Peter Drucker

 

 

What's That Spell?
TEAMWORK !

In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These four men promptly escaped from a maximum ? security stock-ade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

The A-Team went off the air in 1987 ?still wanted by the government ?but television has never produced a better blueprint for team building. The Key elements of it’s effectiveness: a cigar- chomping master of disguise, an ace pilot, a devilishly handsome con man, a mechanic with a mohawk, and an amazingly sweet van. Those particulars might not translate to all business settings. But clear definition of roles is a hallmark of effective collaboration. So is small team size ?though four is slightly below what some researchers say is the optimal number, 4.6. And the presence of an outside threat ?like imminent recapture by government forces ?likewise correlates with high team cohesion. To wit: France and England, which blooded each other for centuries before they noticed? Germany.

Another universal characteristic of teams is that they’re well, universal. If you work for a living, we’re guessing you interact with other humans. (Light-house keepers, we’ll see you next time.)

Most of what you’ve read about teamwork is bunk. So here’s a place to start: Tear down those treacly motivational posters of rowers rowing and pipers piping. Gather every recorded instance of John Madden calling someone a “team player.?Cram it all into a dumpster and light the thing on fire. Then settle in to really think about what it means to be a team.

We’re certainly not against the concept of teamwork. But that’s the point: All the happy-sounding twaddle obscures the actual practice of it. And teamwork is a practice. Great teamwork is an outcome; you can only create the conditions for it to flourish. Like getting rich or falling in love, you cannot simply will it to happen.

We will go further and say: Teamwork is an individual skill. That happens to be the title of a book. Christopher Avery writes, “Becoming skilled at doing more with others may be the single most important thing you can do? to increase your value ?regardless of your level of authority. As work is increasingly broken down into team-sized increments, Avery’s argument goes, blaming a “bad team?for one’s difficulties is, by definition, a personal failure, since the very notion of teamwork implies a shared responsibility. You can’t control other people behaviour, but you can control your own. Which means that there is an “I?in team after all. (Especially in France, where they spell it equipe.)

Yet this is not the selfish “I?that got so much attention during the “me? decade; it’s the affiliatory “I?that built America’s churches and fought its wars. Neil Armstrong didn’t get to the moon through rugged individualism; there is no such thing as a self-made astronaut. “Men work together,?wrote Robert Frost, “whether they work together or apart.?If you think this is mushy stuff, marginal to the daily battle of business, consider what is happening at Sony. CEO Howard Stringer and President Ryoji Chubachi are trying to restore the fighting spirit (and higher profits) at a company built on decentralised teams. Their theme: Sony United.

Here’s both the problem and the promise of cooperation. Humans aren’t hard-wired to succeed or fail at it. We can go either way. In study of groupwork in school classrooms, the late Stanford sociologist Elizabeth Cohen found that if kids are simply put into teams and told to solve a problem, the typical result is one kid dominating and the other looking totally disengaged. But if teachers take the time to establish norms ? roles, goals, etc. ?“not only will [the children] behave according to the new norms, but they will enforce rules on other group members.?Perhaps to a fault. “Even very young students,?Cohen wrote, “can be heard lecturing to other members of the group on how they ought to be behaving.?br>
Economists have long assumed that success boils down to personal incentives. We’ll cooperate if it’s in our self-interest, and we won’t if it’s not. Then a team of researchers led by Linnda Caporael thought to ask: Would people cooperate without any incentives? The answer was ?gasp! - yes, under the right conditions. Participants often cited “group welfare?as motivation.

To economists, shocking. To anyone who’s been part of a successful team, not shocking at all. Life’s richest experiences often happen in concert with others ?your garage band, your wedding, tobogganing. The boss who assumes that worker’s interests are purely mercenary will end up with a group of mercenaries. No battery of team exercises can fix that situation ?especially if they involve spanking your colleagues with yard signs. When a sales office of a home security company, Alarm One, adopted that the practice, a 53- year-old employee later sued for emotional distress. (A jury awarded her $1.2 million in April.)

Again, let the greats show the way. During a public appearance in 2000, an A-Team cast member was asked by a fan to name his favourite co-star. “Listen,?Mr. T responded. “That’s wrong for me to pick a favourite, because I’m a team player and we are a team. Remember, they say? here it comes again ?“there’s no “I?in team.?No, but there is a “T? And pity the fool who forgets it.

Courtesy: Fortune International

 

 

 

 

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships."

—Michael Jordan


A team is a group of people who perform interdependent tasks to work toward a common mission

What is a Team and Types of Teams

Many of today’s team concepts originated in the United States during the 1970s, through the use of quality circles or employee involvement initiatives. But the initiatives were often seen as separate from normal work activities, not as integrated with them.

Team designs have since evolved into a broader concept that includes many types of teams formed for different purposes.

Types of Teams

Three primary types of teams are typically used within the business environment:

1. Process improvement teams are project teams that focus on improving or developing specific business processes. These teams come together to achieve a specific goal, are guided by a well-defined project plan and have a negotiated beginning and end.

2. Work groups, sometimes called “natural teams,?have responsibility for a particular process (for example, a department, a product line or a stage of a business process) and work together in a participative environment. The degree of authority and autonomy of the team can range from relatively limited to full self-management. The participative approach is based on the belief that employees will be more productive if they have a higher level of responsibility for their work.

More
Less
 Enthusiasm

 Learning from peers

 Comfort knowing help is there

 Camaraderie  

 Shared responsibility  

 Focus on the organisation 

 Responsibility for the team 

 Simple, visible measurement  

 Individual opinion about what’s important

 Reliance on individual abilities

 Panic when workload peaks

 Backbiting

 Protecting information

 What’s in it for me?

 Stress on the “supervisor?/span>

 Feeling unaccomplished

3. Self-managed teams directly manage the day-to-day operation of their particular process or department. They are authorised to make decisions on a wide range of issues (for example, safety, quality, maintenance, scheduling and personnel). Their responsibilities also include processes traditionally held by managers, such as goal-setting, allocation of assignments and conflict resolution.

Before anyone would try to implement something as aggressive as a self-managed (and subsequently self-directed) team, they should know and be able to articulate the expected benefits. A mature self-managed team, when compared to typical hierarchical management, would have measured results showing.

Some of the lessons we have learned in implementing teams are summarised below:

1. To create a team, a demand for performance is more important than team-building exercises.
You can get a group together and train them in teamwork for weeks but they won’t be a team until they have a common understanding of the need to perform. First comes the strategic plan, then the tasks needed to carry out the plan, finally, teams are formed to do the tasks.

2. Team basics are often overlooked. Team basics are: size, purpose, goals, skills, approach, and accountability.

3. Teams at the top are the most difficult. Executives have complex, long-term challenges, heavy demands on their time, and they got where they are by being John Waynes.

4. There’s no need to throw out the hierarchy. Teams are the best way to integrate across structural boundaries. They are the best way to design and energize core processes.

Teams permit performance and learning at the same time. There is no better way to become a learning organisation than to have a team-based structure which thrives on people learning from peers. The learning endures.

Contributed by :
Manasi Annigeri   
Faarah Dordy   
Tanushree Trivedi   
Purnima Deshmukh  
Corporate HR  

 

Ten Qualities of an Effective Team Player
 

 

"Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success."

– Henry Ford

 

 

 

"The ratio of We’s to I’s is the best indicator of the development of a team."

– Lewis B. Ergen

 


If you had the opportunity to start a new team and select anyone from your organisation to be on it, who would you pick? Assuming that people have the right technical skills for the work to be done, what other factors would you use to select your team members?

Teams need strong team players to perform well. But what defines such people? Read on.

Demonstrates reliability

You can count on a reliable team member who gets work done and does his fair share to work hard and meet commitments. He or she follows through on assignments. Consistency is key. You can count on him or her to deliver good performance all the time, not just some of the time.

Communicates constructively

Teams need people who speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly, and with respect for others and for the work of the team. That’s what it means to communicate constructively. Such a team member does not shy away from making a point but makes it in the best way possible ?in a positive, confident, and respectful manner.

Listens actively

Good listeners are essential for teams to function effectively. Teams need team players who can absorb, understand, and consider ideas and points of view from other people without debating and arguing every point. Such a team member also can receive criticism without reacting defensively. Most important, for effective communication and problem solving, team members need the discipline to listen first and speak second so that meaningful dialogue results.

Functions as an active participant

Good team players are active participants. They come prepared for team meetings and listen and speak up in discussions. They’re fully engaged in the work of the team and do not sit passively on the sidelines.

Team members who function as active participants take the initiative to help make things happen, and they volunteer for assignments. Their whole approach is can-do: “What contribution can I make to help the team achieve success??br>
Shares openly and willingly

Good team players share. They’re willing to share information, knowledge, and experience. They take the initiative to keep other team members informed.

Much of the communication within teams takes place informally. Beyond discussion at organised meetings, team members need to feel comfortable talking with one another and passing along important news and information day-to-day. Good team players are active in this informal sharing. They keep other team members in the loop with information and expertise that helps get the job done and prevents surprises.

Cooperates and pitches in to help

Cooperation is the act of working with others and acting together to accomplish a job. Effective team players work this way by second nature. Good team players, despite differences they may have with other team members concerning style and perspective, figure out ways to work together to solve problems and get work done. They respond to requests for assistance and take the initiative to offer help.

Exhibits flexibility

Teams often deal with changing conditions ?and often create changes themselves. Good team players roll with the punches; they adapt to ever-changing situations. They don’t complain or get stressed out because something new is being tried or some new direction is being set.

In addition, a flexible team member can consider different points of views and compromise when needed. He or she doesn’t hold rigidly to a point of view and argue it to death, especially when the team needs to move forward to make a decision or get something done. Strong team players are firm in their thoughts yet open to what others have to offer ?flexibility at its best.

Works as a problem-solver

Teams, of course, deal with problems. Sometimes, it appears, that’s the whole reason why a team is created ?to address problems. Good team players are willing to deal with all kinds of problems in a solutions-oriented manner. They’re problem-solvers, not problem-dwellers, problem-blamers, or problem-avoiders. They don’t simply rehash a problem the way problem-dwellers do. They don’t look for others to fault, as the blamers do. And they don’t put off dealing with issues, the way avoiders do.

Team players get problems out in the open for discussion and then collaborate with others to find solutions and form action plans.

Treats others in a respectful and supportive manner

Team players treat fellow team members with courtesy and consideration ? not just some of the time but consistently. In addition, they show understanding and the appropriate support of other team members to help get the job done. They don’t place conditions on when they’ll provide assistance, when they’ll choose to listen, and when they’ll share information. Good team players also have a sense of humor and know how to have fun (and all teams can use a bit of both), but they don’t have fun at someone else’s expense. Quite simply, effective team players deal with other people in a professional manner.

Shows commitment to the team

Strong team players care about their work, the team, and the team’s work. They show up every day with this care and commitment up front. They want to give a good effort, and they want other team members to do the same.

Team players who show commitment don’t come in any particular style or personality. They don’t need to be rah-rah, cheerleader types. In fact, they may even be soft-spoken, but they aren’t passive. They care about what the team is doing and they contribute to its success ?without needing a push.

Team players with commitment look beyond their own piece of the work and care about the team’s overall work. In the end, their commitment is about winning ?not in the sports sense of beating your opponent but about seeing the team succeed and knowing they have contributed to this success. Winning as a team is one of the great motivators of employee performance. Good team players have and show this motivation.

(Adapted From: Managing Teams For Dummies)

Contributed by:
Manasi Annigeri
Faarah Dordy
Tanushree Trivedi
Purnima Deshmukh
Corporate HR
 


Characteristics of a Good Team
 
  • High level of interdependence among members

  • Leader has good people skills and is committed to team approach

  • Each member is willing to contribute

  • A relaxed climate for communication

  • Members develop a mutual trust

  • The group and individuals are prepared to take risks

  • Group is clear about goals and establishes targets

  • Member roles are defined

  • Members know how to examine errors without personal attacks

  • The group has capacity to create new ideas

  • Each member knows he can influence the agenda
     
    Contributed by  
    Manasi Annigeri, Faarah Dordy, Tanushree   Trivedi, Purnima Deshmukh  
    Corporate HR  
 

 

Why Teams Don't Perform?

  Knowing And Understanding The Performance Barriers

 

"Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less me and more we."

- Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The basic building block of good teambuilding is for a leader to promote the feeling that every human being is unique and adds value."

- Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it."

- H.E. Luccock

 

 

Teams that aren’t performing well... or those being formed that won’t ever perform well... are the victims of a mismatch of people with the project, the process, and the product. In quantifying these factors we often overlook the most complex and critical success element... the people who will do the work. While there are numerous reasons why teams fail, we have identified those that are most often the root cause. This paper discusses ten key reasons teams don’t perform as well as they could.

1. The People Don’t Understand The Team’s Mission

The team needs a clearly understood and agreed upon objective, i.e., why it is being formed and what it is expected to accomplish. What is the team’s active time frame? Is it event or calendar driven? Is this an ad-hoc, single project team, a cross-functional/department work team, a continuing, open-ended assignment, or... spell it out. How will the team and its members interface with the rest of the organisation? What will be its reporting process? What are its constraints (functional, political, etc.). Is this a research/study team, an idea or concept team, an implementation team, an advisory team? And, what will be its work product?

2. The Team Lacks Empowerment

Once the team’s mission is set, thoroughly define its authority. Can it take action on its own without further authorisation or approval? Is its role advise and consent, or define and do? The team must have management’s affirmative and active support. Its authority must be explicitly communicated to the rest of the organisation so that others may clearly understand the team’s goal and role. This issue is critically important with self-directed teams; what real muscle does the team have and what resources are at its disposal?

3. Team Members Are Not Matched To The Mission

Once the team’s mission and empowerment status have been determined, the process of building the team can begin. Start by identifying the requisite functional, technical, experiential, and other background skills that will be needed by the prospective members. Then, closely examine the team’s intended work product to determine the best mix of thinkers, doers, analyzers, innovators, planners, implementors, builders, crafters, documenters, and researchers. These natural approaches to accomplishment are critically important for the team’s success, and often make the difference between “mission accomplished,?or holding a postmortem critique to determine what went wrong.

4. There Is A Poor Fit Of Each Member To His/Her Role

Poor judgement in the formation of a team precludes the team’s full creative capacity from ever being realised, i.e., the team has a short oar before it ever begins the race. Evaluate each member in terms of two performance perspectives; the individual’s actual performance and expertise prior to the team assignment, and their team performance potential. The team requires certain skill-sets, behavioural and personality traits, and individual approaches to team work. To perform effectively, a team needs to operate as a unified group, and within a larger environment with a possibly different culture than that which develops inside the team. Each member has a role which must not be materially different than that demonstrated outside of the team. The team environment may alter an individual’s conduct by degree, but it is unreasonable to expect a completely different kind of performance in a team role than has other wise been demonstrated.

5. People Don’t Understand Each Other’s Natural Approaches

Inscribed on the temple of Apollo at Delphi is the sage advice to, “Know thyself.?The corollary to this advice is ?.. and then know thy fellow teammate.?Every team member is unique in some way that allows each to contribute a special knack or gift to the team. Each member knows what he/she will or won’t do, or resists doing. Knowing the other person’s approach to team work is a powerful tool in building the needed synergy. Assumptions about another person’s conduct are quite often erroneous, leading to misunderstandings, miscommunications, and mistakes... and to a missed mission. Know each other, then the expectations of and for the team will be realistically based.

6. No Development Of The Individuals?Innate Talents

Since each member brings their own skill and behaviour set to the team, the team leader must allow that strength to flourish. Otherwise, each person will not produce to her/his full capability, and neither will the team reach its combined potential. Team membership should provide the opportunity for continued individual development and contribution, not stunt it or set it aside for the time being.

7. Team Roles Don’t Match Individuals?Personal Fulfillment Goals

Every individual has their own set of professional aspirations. Each person hopes to realise at least some of his/her goals or to make significant progress toward them in every assignment. Most of us not only need to be recognised for our noteworthy achievements, but most importantly for those achievements that are on our own path to success; affirmation that we are indeed on the right path. An individual’s team role is really a subset of her/his overall mission within the company, and therefore must be compatible with the reason why that person joined the company. The team role must effectively answer a subtle phrasing of the question, “What’s in it for me??which really addresses more than just the need for continued employment or the chance to demonstrate one’s “team spirit.?We all need to feel good about our accomplishments, and that’s a very personal thing. Do you know the personal goals of each team member?

8. Performance Isn’t Linked To Organisational Goals

In addition to aligning an individual’s team role with his/her personal goals is the need to firmly link a team member’s performance to the goals of the organisation. The answer to “Why are we doing this??must emphasize the organisation’s need for team mission accomplishment which can be realised only through individual performance. As individuals, the need to be a part of ... not apart from... the “big picture?can be achieved through an understanding of how one’s team performance contributes to the company’s goals. The team’s mission must be to help the organisation achieve its mission. If the team fails, the organisation will suffer. If the team succeeds, individual recognition and reward will come from both the team and the organisation.

9. There’s No Linkage Of Personal Performance And Team Responsibility

Teams have both a responsibility and an obligation for performance. One does not abrogate his/her individual responsibility for performance by becoming part of a team. A team must not be a hiding place for someone thinking to shirk the “burden?of individual performance. If anything, team members are “under the microscope?to an even greater degree. Outstanding performance on a team quite often leads to more rapid and significant advancement toward one’s goals than might otherwise be the case. Similarly, the weak team member must bear an appropriate portion of the responsibility for a team’s failure.

10. Inability To Transform Team Member Conflict Into Synergy

“Synergy?does not imply “one big happy family.?What it means for a team is the blending of often diverse and unique individual skills and sometimes conflicting behaviours into a mutually supportive effort focused on an objective to which all members commit themselves. “The total being greater than the sum of its parts,?will be realised only if management and the team itself... meaning the individual members... can direct and channel their individual strengths into a cohesive gel that allows each to work to her/his fullest and best capability. Team members must also rely on each other to offset any individual weaknesses, shortcomings, or resistance. Team members must barter their skills, behaviours, and approaches in a manner which does indeed “accentuate the positive?and which turns controversy, diversity, and differences of opinion into the “stuff?from which innovation and new ideas and processes are spawned. If the team is forced to operate at the level of its common denominator, there will be no synergy and the team will fail. Management and the team leader(s) must absolutely know how to structure the team (its infrastructure) in a manner that makes this synergy possible. It all starts with knowing and understanding the team members as individuals who each bring their own skills, motivations, behaviours, energies and foibles to the task.

Contributed by
Minoo J. Sukhia 
FIG
 

How to Make Teams Effective - Guidelines for Managers

People in every workplace talk about building the team, working as a team, and my team, but few understand how to create the experience of team work or how to develop an effective team. Belonging to a team, in the broadest sense, is a result of feeling part of something larger than yourself. It has a lot to do with your understanding of the mission or objectives of your organisation.

In a team-oriented environment, you contribute to the overall success of the organisation. You work with fellow members of the organisation to produce these results. Even though you have a specific job function and you belong to a specific department, you are unified with other organisation members to accomplish the overall objectives. The bigger picture drives your actions; your function exists to serve the bigger picture.

You need to differentiate this overall sense of teamwork from the task of developing an effective intact team that is formed to accomplish a specific goal.

People confuse the two team building objectives. This is why so many team building seminars, meetings, retreats and activities are deemed failures by their participants. Leaders failed to define the team they wanted to build. Developing an overall sense of team work is different from building an effective, focused work team when you consider team building approaches.

Twelve Cs for Team Building

Executives, managers and organisation staff members universally explore ways to improve business results and profitability. Many view team-based, horizontal, organisation structures as the best design for involving all employees in creating business success.

No matter what you call your team-based improvement effort: continuous improvement, total quality, lean manufacturing or self-directed work teams, you are striving to improve results for customers. Few organisations, however, are totally pleased with the results their team improvement efforts produce. If your team improvement efforts are not living up to your expectations, this self-diagnosing checklist may tell you why. Successful team building, that creates effective, focused work teams, requires attention to each of the following.
 

 

 

"T.E.A.M = Together everyone achieves more"

– Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"There is not I in Teamwork."

– Unknown

 

Clear Expectations: Has executive leadership clearly communicated its expectations for the team’s performance and expected outcomes? Do team members understand why the team was created? Is the organisation demonstrating constancy of purpose in supporting the team with resources of people, time and money? Does the work of the team receive sufficient emphasis as a priority in terms of the time, discussion, attention and interest directed its way by executive leaders?

Context: Do team members understand why they are participating on the team? Do they understand how the strategy of using teams will help the organisation attain its communicated business goals? Can team members define their team’s importance to the accomplishment of corporate goals? Does the team understand where its work fits in the total context of the organisation’s goals, principles, vision and values?

Commitment: Do team members want to participate on the team? Do team members feel the team mission is important? Are members committed to accomplishing the team mission and expected outcomes? Do team members perceive their service as valuable to the organisation and to their own careers? Do team members anticipate recognition for their contributions? Do team members expect their skills to grow and develop on the team? Are team members excited and challenged by the team opportunity?

Competence: Does the team feel that it has the appropriate people participating? (As an example, in a process improvement, is each step of the process represented on the team?)
Does the team feel that its members have the knowledge, skill and capability to address the issues for which the team was formed? If not, does the team have access to the help it needs? Does the team feel it has the resources, strategies and support needed to accomplish its mission?

Charter: Has the team taken its assigned area of responsibility and designed its own mission, vision and strategies to accomplish the mission. Has the team defined and communicated its goals; its anticipated outcomes and contributions; its timelines; and how it will measure both the outcomes of its work and the process the team followed to accomplish their task? Does the leadership team or other coordinating group support what the team has designed?

Control: Does the team have enough freedom and empowerment to feel the ownership necessary to accomplish its charter? At the same time, do team members clearly understand their boundaries? How far may members go in pursuit of solutions? Are limitations (i.e. monetary and time resources) defined at the beginning of the project before the team experiences barriers and rework?

Is the team’s reporting relationship and accountability understood by all members of the organisation? Has the organisation defined the team’s authority? To make recommendations? To implement its plan? Is there a defined review process so both the team and the organisation are consistently aligned in direction and purpose? Do team members hold each other accountable for project timelines, commitments and results? Does the organisation have a plan to increase opportunities for self-management among organisation members?

Collaboration: Does the team understand team and group process? Do members understand the stages of group development? Are team members working together effectively interpersonally? Do all team members understand the roles and responsibilities of team members? team leaders? team recorders? Can the team approach problem solving, process improvement, goal setting and measurement jointly? Do team members cooperate to accomplish the team charter? Has the team established group norms or rules of conduct in areas such as conflict resolution, consensus decision making and meeting management? Is the team using an appropriate strategy to accomplish its action plan?

Communication: Are team members clear about the priority of their tasks? Is there an established method for the teams to receive honest performance feedback? Does the organisation provide important business information regularly? Do the teams understand the complete context for their existence? Do team members communicate clearly and honestly with each other? Do team members bring diverse opinions to the table? Are necessary conflicts raised and addressed?

Creative Innovation: Is the organisation really interested in change? Does it value creative thinking, unique solutions, and new ideas? Does it reward people who take reasonable risks to make improvements? Or does it reward the people who fit in and maintain the status quo? Does it provide the training, education, access to books and films, and field trips necessary to stimulate new thinking?

Consequences: Do team members feel responsible and accountable for team achievements? Are rewards and recognition supplied when teams are successful? Is reasonable risk respected and encouraged in the organisation? Do team members fear reprisal? Do team members spend their time finger pointing rather than resolving problems? Is the organisation designing reward systems that recognise both team and individual performance? Is the organisation planning to share gains and increased profitability with team and individual contributors? Can contributors see their impact on increased organisation success?

Coordination: Are teams coordinated by a central leadership team that assists the groups to obtain what they need for success? Have priorities and resource allocation been planned across departments? Do teams understand the concept of the internal customer—the next process, anyone to whom they provide a product or a service? Are cross-functional and multi-department teams common and working together effectively? Is the organisation developing a customer-focused process-focused orientation and moving away from traditional departmental thinking?

Cultural Change: Does the organisation recognise that the team-based, collaborative, empowering, enabling organisation of the future is different than the traditional, hierarchical organisation it may currently be? Is the organisation planning to or in the process of changing how it rewards, recognises, appraises, hires, develops, plans with, motivates and manages the people it employs? Does the organization plan to use failures for learning and support reasonable risk? Does the organisation recognise that the more it can change its climate to support teams, the more it will receive in pay back from the work of the teams?

Spend time and attention on each of these twelve tips to ensure your work teams contribute most effectively to your business success.

Your team members will love you, your business will soar, and empowered people will “own?and be responsible for their work processes. Can your work life get any better than this?

Contributed by:
Manasi Annigeri, Faarah Dordy,
Tanushree Trivedi, Purnima Deshmukh
Corporate HR

 

“Meetings are looooooooooong,?and
“Meetings are BOW-ring?/font>
 

"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work a company work, a society work, a civilization work."

—Vince Lombardi

 

Those two responses almost always come up whenever asked. Others that also come up a lot are: Wastes of time, non-productive, confrontational, inefficient, repetitive, and a number of other negative descriptions. Every once in a while, we get a response like positive, informative, or necessary, but usually the other participants gang-up against the person very quickly.

Most people believe that business meetings are necessary evils, and in many cases, they are. But one of the most important things we can remember about business meetings is to NOT have one unless it is absolutely necessary. When your employees and coworkers are in staff meetings, they are not producing. Nothing is ever produced until after the meeting is over. Some of the advices to make meetings more effective are to have fewer of them.

The tips below are strategies to conduct good meetings :

1. Have an Agenda: Outline ahead of time what points will be covered in the meeting. Write it out, and distribute it to participants ahead of time. This will help avoid the “chasing of rabbits,” and help participants be more prepared for the meeting.

2. Follow the Agenda: This sounds very elementary, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who take the time to create an agenda, and then totally disregard the agenda during the meeting.

3. Limit the Agenda to Three Points or Less: Ask yourself, “What are the three most important things we need to cover in the meeting?” Limit the agenda to these three points. The rest of the things you wanted to cover, by definition, weren’t really that important anyway, so why waste everyone’s time?

4. Set a Time Limit: Setting the time limit for the meeting to be no longer than 30-minutes. In future meetings, shorten the time by five minutes until the time limit is 15-minutes or less. The leader of the meeting will become much more efficient, and the participants will become much more focused as well. When the time limit is up, end the meeting. You may not get to cover every single thing that you wanted to the first couple of times you try this, but within a short time, you will find that the major information points are being discussed and decisions are being made very efficiently.

5. Encourage Participation from Everyone, but don’t Force Them: Instead of going around the table and asking for opinions or input, just ask a question and let people volunteer their answers. There will be times during any meeting that each person will “phase out” (especially if it is a looooong and BOW-ring meeting.) If we call on every person, it wastes time, and puts people on the spot. Other ways of encouraging participation is to just ask a question, and after someone answers, say something like, “Good, let’s hear from someone else.” If there are people in your meeting who rarely speak, instead of calling on them directly, you might say something like, “I value the opinion of each of you, does anyone else have something to add.” Then, just look at the person you want to hear from. If he or she has something to say, he or she will say it if encouraged in this way. If he or she doesn’t, then you haven’t embarrassed the person.

Meetings can be a very powerful way to communicate and solve problems. It can help in identifying the root-cause of a problem and dozens of possible solutions are generated, come to a consensus as group on the best possible solution, and create a written plan of action that is measurable in 15-minutes or less.


Contributed by
Manasi Annigeri, Faarah Dordy,
Purnima Deshmukh, Tanushree Trivedi
Corporate HR
 

The four most common obstacles to teamwork- the real reasons why teamwork doesn’t happen

 

 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has."

— Margaret Mead

 


Real Reason 1:Incentives
Incentives may be designed to block teamwork. Many organisations still use a job-grading system that decides people’s titles and salaries based on the size of the group they manage, i.e., their headcount and budget. People are paid to build empires!

When this is the case, any sensible person would rather hire an employee to do it within his or her department than seek help from a peer. While this alone is not generally the major reason for resisting teamwork, it’s on everyone’s minds and sets up a bias against teaming.

Real Reason 2: Culture
Culture is “the way we work around here”— the practices common throughout an organisation. And many organisations have bad habits ingrained in their cultures that undermine teamwork.

Two common examples are:

1. We make commitments to our customers, and then attempt to arrange teams to fulfill them. Of course, there’s no guarantee that peers will have the resources available to meet that commitment within the promised time frame. When they don’t, people find a way to meet their commitments on their own (by replicating others?skills and building their own resources).
A better practice is: We line up our team members before we commit to a customer.

2. In the spirit of customer focus, people feel that it’s OK to break promises to peers in order to satisfy a client.
After all, we’ve got to be responsive to the business! As a result, staff learn not to trust one another.
A better practice is: We respect commitments to (contracts with) peers just as much as those to clients.

Contrary to popular opinion, culture is one of the easier dimensions of an organisation to fix. The key is to focus on practices, not values. Note that in this case, it’s easy for Randy’s leaders to say they value teamwork, but that doesn’t mean their staff know how to behave.

Examples of clearly worded behaviours illustrate how to build a culture of teamwork quickly.

Real Reason 3: Structure

Structure is another common root cause. People think the only way to get staff to work together is to put them under a common boss. Thus, it’s common to find support groups reporting to one of their internal “customers?and unavailable to the rest of the IT team.

A common example is infrastructure engineering, often placed within the infrastructure operations group. Of course, server and network engineers are needed on applications projects. But because of their position in the structure, they typically think of the operations group as their only customer, and thus they aren’t readily available to applications development teams.

The key to overcoming this obstacle is internal customer-supplier relationships. When staff treat peers throughout IT as customers, just as they treat business-unit clients as customers, cross-boundary teamwork gets a lot easier.

Real Reason 4: Resources

The fourth obstacle to teamwork is the most common and the most powerful: resources. Often, managers are willing to help one another, but their staff’s time and budgets are fully committed to their own priorities.

This occurs when managers have their own budgets, and are expected to satisfy their customers?demands as best they can with the resources they’ve been given. Each manager sets his or her own priorities for resources, and one manager’s highest priority may very well be another’s lowest priority. That, alone, is enough to kill teamwork.

Poor teamwork is rarely a matter of interpersonal difficulties, or a lack of knowledge of how to work together. This is why so many team-building efforts produce sparse results.

The right way to build high-performance, cross-boundary teamwork is to get to fundamentals. Find out why the nice people in your organisation don’t team, and then address the root causes of incentives, culture, structure and the internal economy.
 

Contributed by:
Manasi Annigeri, Faarah Dordy,
Tanushree Trivedi, Purnima Deshmukh
Corporate HR


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