Getting Through the Storming of Teams

June 11, 2012

Human beings have organized themselves into teams since squads of cavemen surrounded and killed wooly mammoths. The best teams are passionate about their work – and you can’t forge or force that kind of spirit. It bubbles up from within the hearts, souls and minds of team members. However, as a manager, you can create the emotional conditions from which passion will emerge. These include trust, sharing, camaraderie, commitment, common purpose and confidence. When you promote these conditions, you set the stage so that team members can work together with enthusiasm to accomplish their goals.

BP, Marriott, Coca-Cola and other large international companies assemble teams to get big jobs done.

These teams often include members from different countries who do not speak the same native language. Since countries have different cultures, these people often have different customs and etiquette. In the past, people from various countries and cultures might never have had the occasion to work together, especially if they didn’t share a language. But the progress of technology and the onward march of globalization changed that. Now, a single big corporation may employ people all over the world and put them together in teams to get big jobs done. Teams are the heart and essence of the contemporary organization. Among other things, teams manage projects which involve multiple business functions, conduct and coordinate assembly line work, handle process re-engineering and set marketing strategies.

Although global teams are very good for many things, they do present some challenges which include:

  1. People come from different cultures, speak different languages and may disagree.
  2. Some countries are far apart; some team members are, too, and may despair.
  3. Controlling diverse people and making them work together can be difficult.
  4. Maintaining rich, full communication when you’re not face-to-face is hard.
  5. Teamness can be tough to develop, but it is what makes a team a team.

Teams are also indispensable to your business growth! Teams are now cross-functional or interdisciplinary. They call on different interest groups within the organization to interact with each other productively for the benefit of the whole. Teams can boldly go where no single individual could effectively go before.

Examples of the benefits of teams:

Money. Teams save it. If it’s popular in corporate organizations there must be a cost cutting angle in there somewhere! By employing teams to make improvements, companies can trim the ranks of middle management.

Productivity. Teams enhance it. Not only can teams replace the intermediary supervisor.often they will do a better job of eliminating bottlenecks and addressing customer complaints.

Communication. Teams promote it. Team members become stakeholders in their own success, which means breaking down the old vertical silo walls lined with bricks inscribed, It’s not my job.

Talent. A group has diverse abilities, where individuals or departments fall short. There is too much to know for one discipline to know it all.

Decisions. Decisions made by teams are better. A decision based on multiple points of view almost always reflects better judgment.

Motivating others is impossible. People do what they do for reasons of their own, which probably have nothing to do with you. However, as a manager, you can create an environment in which team members’ work together to achieve common goals. Explain the big picture, which is, what your organization is all about, and why its goals are important. Research shows that only 7% of employees know what their companies’ business strategies are. Make sure your organization has a mission statement that is straight forward and easy to understand. Discuss it with team members.

Show team members how they can help the company to accomplish its mission. Explain the connections between the company’s goals and individual work tasks. Employees will see that when their work backs up, they prevent the whole company from moving ahead. Delegate by following this five-step procedure:

  1. Examine the big picture and then split it up into discrete tasks
  2. Assign jobs to the workers who can do them best
  3. When delegating a duty, explain its role in the overall effort
  4. Make sure you and the employee agree about the end product
  5. Check in regularly with team members

Storming occurs in even the most harmonious of work environments and among the most collegial of teams. Resolving these conflicts (or storms) involves some of the same skills as active listening: Focus on the other person. Make sure you understand what he or she is saying. Look for trust – pay attention to body language. Discover the truth by finding out what needs to be done or why something cannot be done. Maintain your faith that you’ll arrive at a good outcome. Acknowledge and celebrate team members’ achievements.

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