(This is the first part of a three-part presentation of Team Building and Teamwork. It will continue in our next issue.) (*)
"Nobody's perfect, but a team can be" (Meredith Belbin)
The graphic was produced by Stephen Bray© to illustrate the principle of Teamwork as applied to the production of Nurturing Potential
Click on the thumbnail for the full-sized version
YOU MAY BE A GROUP, BUT ARE YOU A TEAM?
This is the first part of a 3-part series on Team-building and Teamwork.
(1) What is a Group?
We are all part of at least one group Ė and most of us will acknowledge membership of several groups and may be identified by others as belonging to various other groups.
The one group we are all part of is homo sapiens.
Other groups with which we may be associated, or by which we may be identified, are mainly defined by
* Social activity
(2) What makes us a group?
(a) We perceive ourselves as being part of a group.
(b) Others perceive us as belonging to a group.
(c) We choose to regard ourselves as part of a group.
(d) We subscribe to membership of a group.
(e) We share activities or characteristics with others.
We are not necessarily, however, members of a team.
(3) Whatís the difference?
The major difference between a group and a team is that membership of a group is arbitrary; membership of a team is by choice. A team member is someone who has a common goal with other members. An effective team is one where the individual members are prepared to relinquish or subordinate any personally desired outcomes to the general objectives of the team.
(4) How do we turn a group into a team?
There is a standard process in turning a group into a team. This involves giving the group motivation, a common agenda based on shared values a focus and a goal. A major outcome is that whereas a group of people will behave as a collection of individuals, very often creating more problems than they solve, a team will function as an entity for effective problem-solving.
It is essential that expectations are clearly communicated for the team's performance and expected outcomes? Team members need to understand why the team was created? Do the team members feel that they are being properly supported with resources of people, time, attention and money?
are a series of activities designed to do precisely what it says: to break the ice by the individuals collaborating in games, discussions and other exercises to create a positive group atmosphere and to help people to relax, to help people to get to know one another; to help people to "think outside the box".
are activities designed to raise the energy level. They are quick, fun activities to be used when the mood is flagging, people getting sluggish.
Once people have started to get to know each other, e.g. via icebreakers, these are exercises devised to help them bond.
(5) How does a group evolve or develop into a team?
(Reproduced from Nurturing Potential Issue 7)
Tuckman and Jensen (1965, 1977)  suggested that groups pass through five clearly defined stages of development which they labelled forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.
This is the orientation phase. A collection of individuals that have not yet melded into a group. Each is seeking to learn about the attitudes and backgrounds of the others and to ascertain how they fit in, and establish ground rules. They want to discover the nature of the common issues and to learn what they each are required to do or capable of doing to achieve their objective.
This is the conflict phase. It can be very uncomfortable for the individuals. It is a period of negotiation, where individual goals are revealed and examined and, in the revelation, hostility may be encountered. Relationships established in the forming phase may be disrupted, and the key issues at this stage are the management of conflict and the organisation of group objectives.
The cohesion stage. Members of the group work out ways of collaborating and develop closer degrees of relationship and cooperation. Rules are established for behaviour and roles are allotted and tasks allocated. It is the beginning of the group structure. Conflicts are resolved and members start to experience the sense of belonging to the group.
An effective structure has evolved. Objectives have been established and the need now is to get on with the job of fulfilling them. Many incipient groups never reach this stage. Independence is now replaced by interdependence. Sub-groups develop, tasks are allotted, and problem-solving activity results.
Adjourning. [Sometimes called "Mourning"].
The final stage. The objective has been attained, the task completed. Group members consider what they have achieved and decide on whether or not they should disband. This stage is just as important to positive outcomes as are the preceding four stages. It is important to ensure that all group members feel completed and prepared to give up any further dependency on the group.
(6) What Makes a Perfect Team?
The Belbin Model
ďA team is not a bunch of people with job titles, but a congregation of individuals, each of whom has a role which is understood by other members. Members of a team seek out certain roles and they perform most effectively in the ones that are most natural to them.Ē - Dr. Meredith Belbin
In 1969 Dr Matthew Belbin began an analysis of team behaviourf. The model he created provided a structure for studying the qualities and preferences that team members possessed over and above their expert knowledge and skills. He ascertained that teams enabled "a variety of energies and approaches to thinking, decision-making, work organisation and people skills".
He identified eight team roles, each of which describes how team members interact by virtue of the patterns and behaviours that are characteristic of their interaction. He subsequently added a ninth role.
The nine roles are:
1.Company worker. Practical, methodical, organised, reliable. Able to turn ideas into action and see that they are carried out. But could possibly find it difficult to cope with change.
2.Teamworker. Sensible, sociable, supportive, aids communication, counters friction, fosters team spirit, likeable and popular. May appear weak and dislikes confrontation.
3.Implementer. Calm, controlled, self-confident, disciplined, probing, listening, helps team to work together and brings out the best in people. But not particularly creative.
4.Plant. Innovative, unorthodox, individualistic, creative and imaginative. Can address major issues, bring new ideas and strategies to solve problems. Not strong on detail, can make careless mistakes, and does not respond well to criticism.
5.Finisher. A perfectionist. Conscientious, good on details, meets deadlines, follows through and delivers. Can get bogged down if approach is vague.
6.Monitor Evaluator. Highly analytical. Shows good judgement, analyses problems, evaluates the teamís ideas, and offers good commentary on contributions from team members. But lacks tact and fails to accept new ideas.
7.Resource Investigator. Enthusiastic, energetic, positive, extrovert, makes and develops contacts readily. Can be elusive and poor on follow-through.
8.Shaper. Dominant, extrovert, challenging and responsive to challenge. Can be seen as arrogant and abrasive. Can direct team to get results, but may be impulsive and impatient.
9. Specialist. Specialists are passionate about learning in their own particular field. As a result, they are likely to be a fountain of knowledge and will enjoy imparting this knowledge to others. They also strive to improve and build upon their expertise. If there is anything they do not know the answer to, they will happily go and find out. Specialists bring a high level of concentration, ability, and skill in their discipline to the team, but can only contribute on that specialism and will tend to be uninterested in anything which lies outside its narrow confines.
Belbinís team profile is useful in establishing the team profile of an existing team in order to ensure that all the characteristics are represented, or in bringing together a new team.
In the next issue, this main theme will continue with:
How to ensure active participation by team members
How to find a team leader
How to ensure team support for team leader/s
What is the philosophy of the team?
How to establish a team code of ethics
How to ensure peer support
Quality: Change Through Teamwork published by Century Business 1992 for The Sunday Times, by Rani Chaudhry-Lawton, Richard Lawton, Karen Murphy and Angela Terry.
Management Teams (Why they succeed or fail), 1961, by R. Matthew Belbin
Team Roles at Work by R. Matthew Belbin