Building Your Work Team

October 8, 2007

By Greg Smith

Many businesses do a poor job building teamwork.  I have visited organizations where open conflict existed between individuals and departments. Imagine working for a company where individuals do their best to sabotage each other's efforts.  According to the website Mediate.com, managers spend 30% of their time dealing with conflict. How long can a business stay viable when people refuse to work together?

Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, in their book, The Wisdom of Teams, provide an excellent definition of a team.  They say, "A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable."

In their book, the authors talk about the following successful criteria in high performing teams.

  • Complementary Skills. Each person on a team possesses a particular skill or talent.  When blended, these talents and skills improve the capability of the team.  In a high performing team, members can perform each other's job.

  • Committed People.  Teams reach maximum performance when they are committed to each other and trust management.  Personalities and human dynamics are critical to team success.  Until team members trust one other, and understand each other's personalities and individual work styles, commitment to the project is difficult.

  • Common Purpose. Most teams work on a particular project, task, or specific type of work. Committees are not teams.  The most effective teams are ones that have a written charter outlining a clear goal, purpose, and mission.

  • Common Approach. You can't throw some people into a room and expect them to become an effective and productive team.  Not having a structured way of doing work is one major reason teams fail.  For example, project teams should follow a standardized methodology for solving problems, designing a new service, and/or improving a process.  Initially, teams require training, mentoring, and coaching.

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Greg Smith is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and business performance consultant. He has written numerous books and featured on television programs such as Bloomberg News, PBS television, and in publications including Business Week, Kiplingers, President and CEO, and the Christian Science Monitor. He is the President and "Captain of the Ship" of a management-consulting firm, Chart Your Course International, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Phone him at 770-860-9464. More articles
available: http://www.chartcourse.com


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