Team dynamics refer to the unseen forces at play in the functioning of a team. These forces may have a negative or positive impact on the working of the team with respect to the organizational goals. In order to ensure that the negative forces as part of the team dynamics would not have a negative impact on the functioning of the team, organizational managers are required to manage teams most effectively. The first and foremost task in managing a team is to build an effective team, ruling out all the negative forces that previously came into play. This may require the organization to build a new team from scratch, or to make changes to an existing team based on the principles of effective team building.
A team consists of a group of people with “shared vision, role clarity-acceptance, strong leadership, individual/team accountability, team identity, and open/honest communication” (Voight and Callaghan, 2001, 1). Research indicates that teams are increasingly becoming essential parts of contemporary organizations, where teams are nowadays required in the quest to grow swiftly and yet remain flexible. Among researchers – in all fields that require the study of teams – there are various debates about the effectiveness of teams. As an example, certain
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studies have shown that diversity has a positive impact on team functioning; while others have suggested that homogeneity is the key to better performance in teams. Researchers have also shown particular interest in the age groups, levels of education, gender, race, and nationality of team members. Still others have focused on the kinds of tasks that teams are most effective at performing (Chowdhury et al., 2002, 1).
In the organization, effective team building helps human resource managers to identify a team’s strengths and weaknesses, increase productivity in addition to efficiency, improve the interaction of team members, reduce stress levels in the workplace, and also to develop healthy inter-group relations (Team Building Ideas). In other words, effective team building is the heart and soul of team dynamics. As a matter of fact, team building as a science is an ongoing process helping to evolve a group into a cohesive unit. Team members share expectations for completing group tasks. Moreover, they trust and support one another and respect the individual differences within the group (Guide, 1996).
A team builder is one who leads the team toward unity and productivity, thereby managing the team dynamics. In the case of the individual employees, unity is needed among their work plans toward organizational goals. In the case of the team, however, the team builder would unite employees around a mutual team goal and generate greater productivity for the organization (Guide). Hence, teams represent a saving of precious resources of the organization, seeing that it is more cost-efficient to spend time and effort teaching and guiding groups of people instead of individual workers.
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John R. Darling (1990) writes:
Eight months into her new position as director of new product development for a small
business firm, Carol Anderson (a pseudonym) realized that something was wrong. Not the
position itself – Anderson enjoyed nurturing new product ideas and her many other
responsibilities – it was her manager with whom she could not seem to communicate and work
All individuals working together to meet an objective are a part of a team, and must be able to work together most effectively. If they do not fulfill their individual parts of expectations in relation to their teams, they would be better off working by themselves. All the same, organizations are made up of people that must work together efficiently, whether they call themselves individualists or collectivists. Moreover, in order to be a successful part of a team, an individual has to make adjustments in his or her attitudes (whether or not these are prejudices) toward other members of the team in addition to the team as a whole. To put it another way, envy, hate, as well as friendships within the team must be managed so as to render the team most productive with respect to organizational goals.
Teams contribute to the overall success of organizations in which they function. In these teams, fellow members of the organization get together to produce the results expected of them
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by the organization. Although each individual has a particular job function in a specific department, the team unifies all that are identified for working together to accomplish the overall objectives of the organization. It is the bigger picture driving the actions of the team. All individuals with their specific job functions in the organization were serving the bigger picture anyway (Heathfield, 2007). The team only increases their motivation levels, often to the peak. This is because a sense of belongingness is crucial before an individual, a team, or the organization as a whole can hope to reach the highest potential. This concept is understood to be based on Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation.
Human resource managers, also assigned the task of team building, must differentiate between the overall sense of teamwork and effective intact teams that are formed to accomplish a particular goal (Heathfield). The overall sense of teamwork should be a characteristic of the entire organization. Within this organization, there are other teams working on specific tasks, for example, on application software development.
Given that organizations, in any case, are a group effort, all employees may be considered a part of a single team. All the same, task-specific teams are becoming highly popular in the organization. Additionally, individuals in task-specific teams are known to have higher motivation levels because their sense of belongingness feels complete.
Team building, as a science covered by applied social psychology and organizational behavior, is known to work best when certain conditions are met. These conditions include a high level of interdependence among team members; good leadership and people skills on the part of the team leader, who is committed to developing a team approach and allocates time to
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team building activities; the suitability of chosen team members for the job; a climate in which people feel relaxed and are able to be honest; mutual trust among team members and the belief on the part of each individual on the team that all of his team members are skilled and capable; risk taking behavior on the part of the team and its individual members; the establishment of important, achievable goals and clear performance targets causing stretching on the part of team members; defined team member roles; the ability and skill of each team member to know how to examine team and individual errors and weaknesses without the need for personal attacks; devotion on the part of team members to achieve the required results; the capacity to create new ideas through group interaction and the influence of outside people such as customers; and the knowledge that each member of the team can influence the team agenda (Bateman, 1990).
It is believed that human resource managers must start off teams whenever the organization observes decreased productivity; conflicts among staff members; confusion about assignments; decisions that are misunderstood; apathy and lack of motivation and involvement; lack of creativity; complaints of discrimination; ineffective staff meetings, low participation, and minimally effective decisions; negative reactions to the manager; and complaints about quality service (Guide). On the other hand, in organizations that already employ teams to solve particular problems or reach important goals, team building is made easier when all members of the team agree on working together on a task of mutual importance. This means that all team members would also be willing to contribute their technical knowledge, skills, capabilities, and strengths in helping to solve the problem, complete the project, or simply to develop new programs. Members of cohesive teams facilitate team building by evaluating their working
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relationship as a team. Furthermore, team members must be prepared to develop and articulate guidelines that would lead to increased productivity as well as greater cooperation among team members (Bateman).
As an essential part of team dynamics management, team members must learn to manage conflict as a group, and to provide feedback and support that would encourage each member to meet his or her commitments to the team and the organization as a whole. The following are some guidelines for team effectiveness: (1) Team goals must be developed through a group process whereby each team member interacts with his fellow members to agree on a plan of action; (2) Participation is essential as each team member shares his role with others in order to facilitate the achievement of goals and continue fostering the feelings of group cohesiveness; (3) Feedback is requested of all members who may only offer constructive criticism to their fellow team members; (4) Team decision making encourages active participation by all members instead of the team leader and builder making decisions for the whole team; (5) Leadership, too, is distributed among team members and individuals who willingly contribute their resources as required; (6) Problem solving, team issues, and the critiquing of team effectiveness are the responsibility of all team members altogether; (7) Conflict is suppressed and negative feelings are encouraged only when there is no personal attack from one team member over the rest; (8) The resources of the team members, for example, talents, skills, knowledge, and experiences are fully recognized and therefore utilized appropriately; and (9) Risk taking and creativity are encouraged and mistakes are treated as a source of learning.
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Team building is the life and blood of today’s organization raised on the concept of industry averages and competitive advantage. All technology is welcome in our day. And, fortunately, all things that are new to try out in the organizational context, are wholeheartedly welcomed too. So, even though there are organizations that do not believe in any team apart from the one which all employees belong to – the social science discipline of organizational behavior, an offshoot of applied social psychology, has made it abundantly clear that teams are basically good for business. The most important condition for team members to meet appears to be the awareness of the issues at hand, and effective dealings with the people. As a matter of fact, effective dealings among team members are the life of good team dynamics. If good team dynamics do not exist, however, organizational managers must reorganize their teams, if necessary, to follow the relationships-balancing principles of effective team building.
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1. Bateman, Arnold. (1990, June). Team Building: Developing A Productive Team. Retrieved from http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/misc/cc352.htm. (26 February 2007).
2. Chowdhury, Sanjib, Megan Endres, and Thomas W. Lanis. (2002). Preparing Students for Success in Team Work Environments: The Importance of Building Confidence. Journal of Managerial Issues, Vol. 14.
3. Darling, John R. (1990). Team Building in the Small Business Firm. Journal of Small Business Management, Vol. 28.
4. Guide to Managing Human Resources. (1996). Berkeley Office of Human Resources. Retrieved from http://hrweb.berkeley.edu/guide/teams.htm. (26 February 2007).
5. Team Building Ideas. Human Resource Management. Retrieved from http://www.humanresourcemanagement.co.uk. (26 February 2007).
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6. Voight, Mike, and John Callaghan. (2001). A Team Building Intervention Program: Application and Evaluation with Two University Soccer Teams. Journal of Sport Behavior, Vol. 24.