Requirements for a Successful Team Work
Suggestions for achieving success in teamwork: It is necessary to know the characteristics of a successful teamwork. It is necessary to establish a solid team system. The Environment of Support and Solidarity is Important.
Today, the concept of team in business life has become quite different from the past. The teams consist of different people; technology is used more often; team members are constantly moving and a dispersed system is being implemented. In other words, there are innovations and challenges faced by the teams, but in any case, success of a teamwork depends on solidarity.
Richard Hackman, one of the founders of the "organizational behavior" discipline, laid out the conditions for a team to be effective and successful in the 1970s. After 40 years of research, Hackman's findings have been very effective:
Accordingly, the personality traits, behavior and attitude styles of the people in the team are of secondary importance for solidarity.
What really matters is the conditions a team is in. In other words, a clear goal, solid infrastructure and support are the most important factors for a team to be successful. Moreover, these conditions are more important today than in the past.
It is possible to say that modern teams are faced with two different problems: “Us and them” and incomplete flow of information. A common mindset is required to overcome these problems.
There is a joint study conducted by Martine Haas, one of the famous "Wharton Business School" faculty members of the University of Pennsylvania, and Mart Mortensen, who has many studies on teamwork.
Different teams are analyzed in this 15-year study. More than 300 people are interviewed in global companies and 4200 surveys are applied. Important findings are obtained as a result of these questions asked to people at various levels working in different departments of the companies.
Let's take a detailed look at the features of a successful teamwork based on this research.
Characteristics of a Successful Teamwork
First of all, let's start by explaining the conclusion that managers and leaders should draw from this research: Even if there are various problems faced by the teams, only a small part of these problems negatively affect team success. For this reason, the managers' detection and elimination of these problems can visibly increase the success of the team.
Well, let's now look at what it takes to make teamwork marked by diversity, dynamism and technology more successful.
1. A Clear Goal
At the heart of every successful team is a clear goal that motivates and guides these team members and enables them to work with other team members. If team members don't know their ultimate goal, if they're not aware of what they're working for, productivity drops drastically. Of course, this goal should be difficult, but not overly difficult. So easy goals don't motivate people, but very hard goals also discourage people. It is also very important that achieving this goal yields either an external or an internal result. In other words, after achieving this goal, people should be able to gain promotion, bonus, reward, or a spiritual sense of satisfaction and meaning.
The existence of a common goal is even more important for teams of people with different characteristics. Because the only thing that holds people with different backgrounds, different education and different views together is the common goal. For example, for the Norwegian team of a global company, customer satisfaction means providing this person with the highest quality product regardless of price. For the UK team of the same company, the main goal may be to provide the customer with the ideal product at the price / performance ratio. However, even if the teams operate in different countries, they work for the same company. Therefore, to eliminate the separation between the two teams, all teams need to agree on a single goal. This, of course, takes place through the decisions taken at the company's headquarters.
2. A Robust System
Teams should be composed of people at the optimal level, everyone should have a balanced distribution of tasks and there should be processes that will increase the dynamism of the team.
Successful teams have a balanced distribution of talent. In other words, every individual in the group does not have to be number one in their job, but in general, a balanced and healthy distribution in terms of technical and social skills is a must. The fact that the people in the team have differences in terms of knowledge, opinion and mindset, gender and nationality enables this team to be more creative and innovative. In teams with people with different experiences and opinions, the target is generally perceived differently by each individual.
In a study conducted by the World Bank, it has been determined that groups consisting of people who have both international experience and are citizens of the country of study are more successful. The cosmopolitan team members support the team with their own knowledge and skills, while local team members provide information to the team in social areas. One of the teams with such an appearance did a successful job transforming a slum in West Africa. The local team member stated that micro-scale loans to these local residents are essential for their clean water and sanitation needs. The cosmopolitan team members carried out the program being implemented in the light of this information. In other words, this group of different personalities with both technical and social knowledge has carried out a more sustainable project together.
The inclusion of new members in the team enables a team to grow in the knowledge and skills required, but the increasing number comes at a cost. There may be situations such as communication weakness, fractionation, and irresponsibility in large teams.
In interviews with senior managers, it is stated that when the number of teams is inflated for various reasons, there is a gap in the management area. In other words, team leaders should only include new people when necessary. The main goal should be to keep the number of people in the team to a minimum. When a new person is offered to the team, it must be asked what exactly that person will benefit the group.
Team assignments should also be carefully arranged. So every task doesn't have to require creativity. Many tasks can be "chore". However, leaders should motivate their teams and provide them with autonomy to complete these tasks. In other words, the team should have a certain freedom in terms of running the work from start to finish, and the team leader should also give regular feedback.
For example, consider a software company in Silicon Valley. The code developed in this company is sent to a software company in Bangladesh to check. When talking to these team members in Silicon Valley, it is stated that this situation has a demotivating effect for the team in Bangladesh. Because the task of the Bangladesh team is only to check the code written. These people do not know what the code they control is good and only get feedback when the control is incorrect. This results in one of the teams not being able to fully own the business. Eliminating such differences between teams, for example appreciating the Bangladeshi team for being an important part of the work, increases the motivation of this team and provides better quality work.
Disruptive team dynamics can also damage team spirit. There may be situations such as not sharing information, intimidation, avoiding responsibility, and blaming others within the team. Such problems can be prevented by establishing clear rules and principles within the team. For example, situations such as not being late for the meeting, giving everyone the right to speak, not interrupting the speech can be made a rule and a common culture can be established in teams consisting of different people.
3. Support and Solidarity Environment
An environment of support and solidarity is extremely important for a team to work effectively and efficiently. Issues such as rewarding good performers, infrastructure required to provide access to accurate information, and staff training should be emphasized.
It may not be possible for a team to have everything they want, but the team leader must be committed to providing what the team needs.
Especially for team members living in different countries or contacting over the internet, it can be difficult to establish such an environment. Take, for example, Jim Smith, head of the product development department at General Mills. Smith and his team are working on the Mexican market. While Jim lives in the USA, some of his team members live in Mexico. When Jim visits the team living in Mexico, he realizes that their computer infrastructure is weak. Jim Smith, who thinks that the weakness of the Mexican team's performance is due to cultural factors, sees that this situation is actually entirely due to technical problems, and by taking the necessary steps, he provides the technical system to increase the performance of the Mexican team.
4. Common Mind
The 3 items mentioned above are indispensable conditions for a team to be successful. However, according to research, today's modern teams need more. Topics such as distance, multiculturalism, digital transformation push the teams to think like "us and them". The solution to this is to have a common mindset. In other words, to ensure that team members have a common identity.
In the past, the teams had a homogeneous structure meeting face to face and knowing each other's problems and thoughts. However, it does not have such a homogeneous structure today. The human brain tries to make sense of the complex world around it using cognitive shortcuts and therefore categorizes people. This allows people to create their own small groups, ie closed structures within themselves. In a sense, groupings occur within the team.
This happens because of the difference in resource use, not cultural issues.
Alec, who is the leader of his technical team at a large logistics company, is tasked with developing software that enables communication with radio waves. Alec's team lives in two separate regions, Texas and New Jersey, and both groups view each other with a critical eye and suspicion. Alec, who is between these two groups with different time zones, cultural differences and even dialects, has a hard time motivating both teams to be on the same page. In other words, it is difficult for both teams to agree on issues such as the team's mission, purpose and rules. So much so that two staff members working in two different branches of the same team do not want to stay in the same hotel when they meet with a customer. Alec takes these two groups to dinner and socialize, but everyone sits in the same place as their group. In other words, the grouping and coldness between people from Texas and New Jersey, who are actually members of the same team, do not end.
In addition to grouping, “missing information” is also a common issue among modern teams. Often some team members know things that other members do not. This is because of their specialty or because they live in different countries. However, something that half of the group knows and half of the group does not know does not work unless it is shared within the team. However, shared knowledge is indispensable for cooperative and successful teamwork. Information sharing in the team is a very important issue for all members of the team to be aware of the current situation, to know the dynamics within the group, and to increase efficiency.
Digitalization can also disrupt the information exchange. In face-to-face teams, people can understand each other even by gestures and gestures, and digital communication also disappears. Communication made only through digital media causes a very important aspect of communication to be bypassed.
One of the examples of this situation is happening in Japan-based pharmaceutical company Takeda. In a seminar for managers, the participants are divided into 50-50: personnel working in the USA and personnel working in Japan… One of the managers living in the USA asks a question that is on his mind. This person asks why the Japanese staff are talking from the office when talking to the US at home during late night (outside office hours) phone calls due to the time difference. Japanese colleagues give him different answers: The distinction between work and private life, getting help with foreign languages, and the scarcity of home-office-style houses in Japan. Although the Takeda pharmaceutical company motto is "sharing the pain", it seems that this is not the case. While the US personnel leave work at 6 am and have dinner with their families, the Japanese personnel are working late at night. The main issue here is that one group evaluates business life differently than the other group.
Despite all this, there are many things that team leaders can do to establish a common identity and a common mindset. The most important of these is that each sub-group feels that it contributes to the goal of the team.
Going back to the example of Alec, who leads a team in Texas and New Jersey ...
Two people on Alec's team prefer to stay in different hotels. When they go out to dinner together, the Texas crew sits at one end of the table and the NJ crew sits at the other end of the table. At this dinner, Alec expresses how great they contributed to the common goal of both groups and congratulates both teams. She emphasizes that both teams need each other to be successful and she plans to meet more frequently from now on. Alec, who enables them to have common experiences and common stories, breaks the "us and them" thoughts and only "we" dominates.
In other words, it is possible to increase the success of your team based on the 4 basic factors we discussed above. Many senior executives and team leaders in the field studies of Haas and Mortensen, which we mentioned at the beginning, emphasize that it is necessary to spend time talking with their teams on issues that are not directly related to business. For example, if a meeting is to be held, general issues are discussed in the first 10 minutes of this meeting. This allows team members to say something, even on daily, family and sports issues. In other words, team members are warming up thanks to these little speeches and tend to take the floor in the main part of the meeting.
So we are faced with a landscape like this: Four factors need to be given great importance to encourage successful teamwork. When a leader takes charge of a new team, they must focus on four factors for that team's success.
But how will you know that your efforts have been beneficial? So how can a leader see that their labors bear fruit? Hackman proposes three criteria to measure the team's effectiveness in this regard: ability to cooperate, individual development, and outcome. In addition, we can say that the most ideal approach is observation from a distance and a more direct intervention when a problem occurs.
So a leader should check his team every few months, examine how they've improved on four factors, and also evaluate the three criteria Hackman put forward for the team's success.
All conditions are available for teamwork today. At no time in history has teamwork been this easy, but in recent years some factors have made teamwork complex. We can definitely see that global, virtual and project-based teamwork will become more widespread from now on. This is why a systematic approach is required for the success of a team. Establishing the conditions for a team's success, taking action, and intervening in situations where improvement is needed are the most important elements that define the line between a team's success or failure.