How to Develop Successful Work Teams Using Rhetorical Maneuvers

Solutions for Effective Team Building Maneuvers

The talk in the workplace during the uncertainties in the global markets centers around the many nuances about how to become a team, the differences between teams and groups, what it takes to work as a team and how to make the team more effective, but few people have come to understand what it really takes to develop a great team that performs with extraordinary results! Being a part of a team that most can count on, in the broadest sense, requires the right people coming together with skills and talents to compliment one another to achieve the desired effects of the sponsoring organization and leadership. It has much to do with the people possessing the passion to be great, in order for their behaviors to stimulate great outcomes and their understanding of the future picture – the mission and objectives – and how to achieve the overall purpose of the organization.

People selected to become a member of a team must be prepared to contribute to the environment and overall success of the organization. They must put their personal feeling aside and work towards a significant level of Personal Proficiency that translates into increased levels of Professional Mastery. When assigned to a specific task, they must understand and be in tuned with their situational awareness; unified to the heart beat across other departments of the organization and members to accomplish the overall objectives. The future picture must drive their actions and performance to do what is needed to win.

People must differentiate the overall sense of teamwork from the task of developing working groups that is formed to accomplish a specific goal. People confuse these two team building objectives. This is why so many team building trainings, programs and seminars, meetings, retreats and activities are deemed failures by the participants who attend. The facilitators would normally fail to define the differences of the two, “groups” and “teams,” and the participants would leave not having a comprehensive understanding for the team they would like to achieve. Developing an overall sense of team work is much different from building an effective, focused work team when considering the approach to take to engage effective team building maneuvers.

The Differences between Teams and Groups

In 2007, a conversation between an Adjunct Professor in the Human Resource Development department at a Philadelphia university and I took place. The Professor posed an interesting statement about teams and groups from one of his clients in the workplace. He started off by asking; “what is the difference between a group of people that work together towards achieving an initiative and a team doing the same?” I answered by posing a question of my own; “when does a group become a team?” This exchange stimulated a lengthy conversation and we were in agreement that the same took place with deeper meaning in the workplace. I went on to say, “the definition of a team is best described as a small group of individuals with complementary skills and abilities who are committed to a common goal and approach for which they hold each other accountable.” This definition would presume that the behaviors of a team are decidedly different from a group.

The best size for teams is 6-12 individuals. Larger teams require more structure and support; smaller teams often have difficulty meeting when members are absent. Members have skills and abilities that complement the team’s purpose. Not all members have the same skills, but together they are greater than the sum of their parts. On teams, members share roles and responsibilities and are constantly developing new skills to improve the team’s performance. They work in a democratic fashion with every voice having an opportunity to be heard. Teams identify and reach consensus on their common goal and approach, rather than looking to a leader to define the goal and approach. Again, and most importantly, teams hold their members accountable – very accountable! What does this mean in practical terms? When they experience conflict with a member, they speak to that member directly rather than to a supervisor. When a member is not performing to the level required, the team addresses, or self disciplines, the performance issue.

As we continued on in the conversation, the Professor decided to define the groups’ perspective and functions. He went on to say, “a group can be defined as a small unit of people with complementary skills and abilities who are committed to a leader’s goal and approach and are willing to be held accountable by the leader. A group supports the leader’s goals and the leader-dominated approach to goal orientation and achievement. A group drives individual accountability rather than shared accountability. Leadership is predominantly held by one person rather than the shared, fluid leadership on a team. In a group, the dominant viewpoint is represented much different from the team’s democratic approach with voice where multiple, diverse viewpoints are represented. Decisions in a group are made by voting or implied agreement; decisions on a team are typically made by consensus.”

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