Some management teams are bound to succeed while other are not due to a number of factors. A team, according to Adair (1986), is more than just a group with a common aim. It is a group in which the contributions of individuals are seen as complementary. Collaboration, working together, is the keynote of a team activity. Adair suggests that the test of an effective team is: “whether its members can work as a team while they are apart, contributing to a sequence of activities rather than to a common task, which requires their presence in one place and at one time.” Below is a discussion of some of the major factors that create a difference between winning and losing management teams .
1. Supportive Sponsor
Management teams are usually formed by a sponsor who recognizes that reaching an organizational goal will require a group of individuals working together to provide the leadership necessary to move a company, division or unit towards the organization’s goals. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to create a ‘charter’ that establishes the management team and its primary focus. In addition, the sponsor establishes specific goals the team is to accomplish. The sponsor will also select the team leader and gain his or her commitment to lead the leadership team in defining and carrying out the needed actions. Lack of will or proper direction by the sponsor ( e. g board of directors in a company) can lead to team failure.
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2. Environmental factors
These include physical factors such as working proximity, plant or office layout. In general, close proximity aids group identity and loyalty, and distance reduces them. Other environmental issues include the traditions of the organisation under which the management team operates, and leadership styles. Formal organisations tend to adopt formal group practices. Autocratic leadership styles prefer group activities to be directed.
3. Team size
Small groups tend to be more cohesive than larger groups; small groups tend to encourage full participation; large groups contain greater diversity of talent.
4. Focus on Stakeholder Outcomes
A shared understanding of the management team’s stakeholders, their expectations of the team, and the values the team embraces is essential to create the focus needed as the management team members plan and execute the actions necessary to achieve the team’s goals.
5. Smart Goals
Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals should be established by the team’s sponsor and then broken into sub-goals by the management team. Without SMART goals, the team will lack the milestones necessary to drive action.
6. Team Leadership
Team leadership is the most critical success factor for the performance management team. A leader with strong performance management skills and the ability to develop others virtually guarantees a successful performance initiative. Every management team needs a leader who focuses the members of the team on the mission, purpose, and goals of the team. This individual must be committed to the team’s results and must be willing to be held accountable by the team’s sponsor and other stakeholders, for leading the team through processes that insure the team’s goals are reached. The team leader must engage each team member in the processes of the team and build a platform of mutual trust that leads to open debate, collaboration, individual commitment, and personal accountability.
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7. Mutual Trust
The most important element of successful team work is the establishment of a platform of mutual trust that enables the management team to engage in open debate and decision making that leads to commitments to action by individual members of the team. Building this trust requires an openness that allows team members to know and understand the beliefs and behaviors of all members of the team so that team actions can be structured to take advantage of each member’s uniqueness and talents. Behavioral and values assessments are powerful tools in developing an understanding how each member of the management team views themselves and responds to others in the team.
8. Engaged Management Team Members
An effective management team will have team members who are actively engaged in the work and focus of the team. This will require that each team member emotionally commits to actively and openly participate in the team’s processes in the pursuit of the team’s goals. The team member must willingly commit to carry out action plans to complete individual actions necessary for the team to reach their team goals. The team member must be dependable and carry the full weight of personal responsibility to complete their individual commitments by the date committed to. Engaged team members enthusiastically support each other and add value to other team members. They prepare for team processes and choose to engage others in a positive manner to find solutions to issues and challenges they individually or as a team face. They constantly seek to improve themselves for the benefit of the team and never, never, never quit.
9. Composition of the Team
The Apollo Syndrome is a phenomenon that having too many people with a high mental abilities grouped together to solve a problem is, in many instances, detrimental to the teamwork process. Team members spend much of their time trying to persuade the team to adopt their own views as well as figuring out ways to point out weaknesses in the rest of the team’s ideas. They have difficulty reaching consensus in decisions and are focused on their own work, paying little attention to what their fellow team members agree doing. Occasionally the team will pick up on the fact they are having problems, but will then overcompensate to avoid confrontation. This leads to even more problems in making sound decisions. A knowledgeable team, skilled at group working, and with a wider range of talents is much more likely to succeed than an inexperienced group with a narrow range of talents.
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10. Individual Commitments
The work of a management team is carried out by individual members of the team. When a team has developed a plan of actions that are necessary to achieve their goals or overcome barriers, individual members must commit to carrying out specific actions which in many cases will include actions by the individual teams they in turn lead. The management team’s collaborative processes must include steps to: * Define individual actions,
* Gain the commitments by individual team members to complete the actions, * Document due dates, and * Establish status reporting processes.
11. Discipline and Accountability
Team goals will usually not be realized until individual commitments are completed. Management team members must embrace a discipline to complete their commitments as scheduled. They must agree to hold each other personally accountable for completing, as scheduled, the commitments each person has made to the team. Each management team member must continuously report the status of their open commitments to the team so that barriers to completion can be identified early in order to permit the management team leader and other team members the opportunity to deal with the issues before overall deadlines are impacted.
12. Identification and Removal of Barriers
Barriers to team and individual progress will occur in every management team effort and must be dealt with quickly to continue progress towards the team’s goals. The team leader must continuously monitor the status of each individual’s commitments and initiate barrier removal processes where appropriate. Team-based processes for developing action plans to overcome barriers impacting individual commitments should be instilled as a part of the team’s culture.
13. Shared vision / approach.
The ability for a management team to clearly state it’s goals and objectives and gain buy-in among the people they lead ( e. g. employees )along with a synergistic team that can carry out their responsibilities is vital to performance success. The vision and/or mission of the team must be accepted by all the team members and critical goals viewed as the collective responsibility of the team. If a return to profitability is a critical goal of an executive team, priorities and time commitments must be pulled from elsewhere. Focusing on results that in any way does not support the critical goal(s) of the team will lead to team failure.
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14. Technology support
While a skilled management team can improve performance with very little tools and only an effective approach, with proper technology to support the team’s needs, and the proper data to drive decision making, there is almost no limit to the improvements an organization will yield.
15. Ability to Innovate
Innovating is a key aspect of teamwork and involves challenging the way things are currently being done. Technology is changing so quickly that the way you are currently performing tasks may no longer be the best way. If you are not up-to-date in your practices, your cost structure may be too high or you may no longer be delivering competitive service. Innovating is essential for all work teams. There are always better ways of doing things if you only take time to discover them.
To obtain the resources – people, money, and equipment – to carry out your work, you have to ‘sell’ what you are doing to other people. Resources to implement new ideas will only be given if your team can persuade and influence people higher in the organization. Promoting to customers or clients both inside or outside the organization is also important if you are to continually deliver what people want.
Many ideas don’t see the light of day because they are impractical. The Developing activity ensures that your ideas are molded and shaped to meet the needs of your customers, clients, or users. It involves listening to their needs and incorporating these in your plans. Developing will ensure that what you are trying to do is possible, given the resource constraints of your organization.
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18. Inspecting & Maintenance
Regular checks on work activities are essential to ensure that mistakes are not made. Quality audits of your products or services will ensure that your customers or clients will remain satisfied. Inspecting also covers the financial aspect of work in your team, as well as the security aspects, the safety aspects and the legal aspects. All management teams need to uphold standards and maintain effective work processes. Your car will fail if it does not have its regular service. Teams can fail too, if the team processes are not regularly checked and maintained. Maintaining ensures that quality standards are upheld and that regular reviews of team effectiveness take place.
Linking is the activity that ensures all team members pull together, and makes the difference between a group of individuals and a highly effective and efficient team. It covers the linking of people, linking of tasks and leadership linking.