A team can be defined as a group of individuals working together to accomplish something. The group must consist of more than one person with common goals, rules, and procedures. These teams can vary in size; they can be small or large groups. This definition is comprehensive, but the essence of what makes up a good team does not change no matter how many people are involved. There are many team types: team sport, team plays, team effort, team goals, and team members. All of these teams have something in common which makes them a team. However, what makes a team effective? What does an effective team consist of?
The most important attribute to be associated with an effective team is team members. Effective team members must be healthy, both mentally and physically. They should have good time management skills and demonstrate the ability to work with other employees in the organization that have various backgrounds. For team members to be effective, they need to take responsibility for team tasks by being proactive, not reactive.
Experience has demonstrated that successful teams are empowered to establish some or all of a team’s goals, efficient decision-making processes about achieving these goals, undertake the tasks required to meet them, and be mutually accountable for their results. There are several characteristics of an effective team. These include:
- Clear sense of purpose – Team members should know the team’s purpose and have shared goals. Each individual member can only impact the organization so much. By aligning the talents and resources of the group, great things can happen.
- Clear ground rules – The team establishes some or all of the team norms on how they are expected to interact with each other.
- Clear roles and work assignments – There are clear expectations about the roles played by each team member. When action is taken, clear assignments are made, accepted, and carried out. Work is fairly distributed among team members.
- Common commitment – The vision, mission, goal, or task of the team has been defined and is now accepted by everyone. This is an action plan.
- Individual accountability – Team members are responsible and accountable for completing their team tasks. If a team member doesn’t accomplish their tasks, the team member and manager need to meet to go through the problem-solving process to determine why the task wasn’t completed by the established deadline. If this is repeated, the team member needs to be reassigned or let go.
- Positive teamwork – Team members support each other, and there is a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect.
- Structured team meetings – team members meet regularly and actively participate in team discussions. Team meetings are focused, efficient and effective.
- Civilized disagreement – If there is disagreement, the team must be comfortable with this and show no signs of avoiding, smoothing over, or suppressing conflict.
- Open communication – Team leaders need to be willing to allow members to express their feelings and insights on the tasks andwillingness to allow members to share insights on the tasks and willingness to allow members the be free to express their feelings and insights on the tasks as well as on the group’s operation. There are few hidden agendas. New ideas and creativity will take place outside of meetings. Decisions should be reached by consensus.
- Shared leadership – While the team has a formal leader, leadership functions shift from time to time depending on the circumstances, the group’s needs, and the members’ skills. The flexibility of a good leader models the appropriate behavior and helps establish positive norms.