Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Team Building

Building effective teams can be a challenge. In a perfect world we would be able to select the most effective people for our teams. We would discard those without the ability to be good team players.

Such a sentiment tends to disguse a fundamental factor. Building an effective team does not happen by accident. It has to be worked upon; just as we work upon developing individual competencies, we also need to work on developing team competencies.

Many managers actually do not understand this. They tend to assume team work will just happen. They tend to assume that if you have well developed people on the team then the team will function well. In a sense this is a reasonable assumption. The problem with this assumption is that it assumes access to balanced individuals. In reality we inherit our teams, we often have little control over who is in our team, therefore we have to work with what we have.

This is where the hard work comes in. Instead of assuming the team will work fine if it is full of well balanced individual; managers must instead be proactive at developing the capabilities of each individual team member - so that they are able to contribute in a balanced manner towards achieving team goals. The difference is this. Individual development doesn't cease the moment someone joins a team; in fact, it is at this point that individual development needs to move to a higher level.

Teams are effective because each person in the team contributes something. Rath & Conchie, from Gallup, emphasis this in their research into strengths based leadership. Their research into leadership teams found there were four key domains of leadership strength, these being:

1: Executing
2: Influencing
3: Relationship Building
4: Strategic Thinking

Each of these domains contains a host of strengths characteristics. The point being made by Rath and Conchie is that while individuals may not always be balanced, each individual brings strengths to the team, and when the team operates to the strengths of its members then the team is balanced and rounded. The key activity for team leaders is to be able to identify the various strengths characteristics required by the team and either (a) import those strengths into the team or (b) develop the latent strengths amongst existing team members.

Let The Journey Continue
John Coxon

John Coxon & Associates
Taking You from Frontline Manager to CEO
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