BY OLUFEMI ADEDAMOLA OYEDELE
Olufemi Adedamola Oyedele, MPhil. Construction Management, managing director/CEO, Fame Oyster & Co. Nigeria, is an expert in real estate investment, a registered estate surveyor and valuer, and an experienced construction project manager. He can be reached on +2348137564200 or email@example.com
The inherent dynamics of TEAM in goal attainment
A team is a small group of people with common purpose or objectives and with thorough understanding of the team’s purpose and objectives, and the direction of how to achieve them. TEAM is Together Everybody Achieves More. Everybody loves a good team and everybody wants a winning or performing team. This is because there is synergy in a good team that makes them perform to expectation.
Usain Bolt ran the fastest time in the 100 metres race at the 2009 World Championships in 9.58 seconds. In the 4 x 100 metres relay, Usain Bolt, Steve Mullings, Michael Frater and Ashafa Powell ran 400 metres in 37.31 seconds. This meant that an average runner in the team ran 100 metres in 9.33 seconds. It also meant that Usain Bolt who ran 100 metres individually at 9.58 seconds, the fastest of the team, was able to run 100 metres collectively at 9.33 seconds, 0.25 seconds faster. They were able to perform more collectively than the addition of their individual performances because they were a complete team!
A team is different from a group in that a team has a common objective and a team leader. A group is a collection of people without aims and objectives. In a game of soccer, a full team has eleven players and in a game of basketball, a full team has five players. Can we say that a team with full or whole members is a complete team? Is it logical to conclude that a football team with eleven players will beat another team with ten players? No.
A full team is different from a complete team. Is the eleven-member team a complete team because it has full team members and the ten-member team is not a complete team? What then is a complete team? Or what makes a team a “complete team”? A complete team has complementary team members and each member is physically and emotionally on top of his or her contributions to the team. No member is useless, though there may be a ‘weakling’, in a complete team as each member has a stronghold and “selling point”. All complete team members contribute more than their individual abilities due to team synergy or collaboration.
A complete team has team players as members and each member carries the team spirit, is knowledgeable about the team dynamics and believes in team goals. B. Conti and H. B. Kleiner in their article titled, “How to increase teamwork in organisations”, published in Training for Quality, Volume 5, Number 1, pages 26-29, March 1997, stated that, ‘‘a team has two or more people; it has a specific performance objective or recognised goal to attain; and co-ordination of activity among the members of the team is required for the attainment of team goal.” In a complete team, all members know the strengths and weaknesses of other members. ‘‘A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable’’ (J. R. Katzenbach and D. K. Smith in their book, “The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance organisation”, published by Harvard Business School, Boston, in 1993). A complete team does not apportion blame but gives individual feed-backs.
According to R. M. Belbin in “Team Roles at work” published by Butterworth-Heinemann in London in 1993, ‘‘team-workers are cooperative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic. They have an ability to listen to others, build relationships, avert friction, and resolve differences.” Team-workers (team players) are more after the goals than any other objective. They are blind to distractions and concentrate more on team achievements. A complete team works in synergy so that it will be difficult to identify the “weakest link” in the team. For example, if a football team that ordinarily should have eleven members, have ten members and there is a keeper, a full left back, a full right back, a central defender, a supportive central defender, a defensive midfielder, an attacking midfielder, a right winger, a left winger and an attacker – ten members – and the team is so cohesive that it is difficult for an eleven-member team to beat it, then the ten-member team can be described as a complete team.
A complete team is judged by the ‘complementariness’ of the team members, understanding of individual’s roles and the objectives of the team by all members rather than the number of team members. A complete team enjoys empathy and sympathy of other team members and abhors apathy. Bruce W. Tuckman in “Developmental sequence in small groups”, published in 1965 in Psychological Bulletin, No. 63, pages 384-399, developed one of the common models of team formation and identified four stages as (1) Forming, (2) Storming, (3) Norming and (4) Performing. A complete team goes through these four stages over time, gels very well at maturity and improves quality, productivity and efficiency of the team members; encourages innovation and exchange of ideas; improves employee motivation and job satisfaction leading to a rewarding experience. A complete team is a collection of high-performers and is difficult to beat as every member understands, and ‘covers up’ for each other.
A complete team is not a galaxy of stars, but a collection of experts without individual ambitions. It is a gathering of a group of people who are motivated to achieve a common goal. This group of people has common understanding on why they are together, have self-respect and love for each other. They have stayed and trained together, so they can predict each other. The most important factor in a complete team is the collective focus on team success. Team achievement is primary, while individual team member’s achievement is secondary. A complete team has team members with different work rates but it is difficult for team members to identify the weakling amongst themselves. Team leaders must be careful to effectively manage class-, age-, talent-, and cultural-, diversity in a complete team so that there is no friction. What motivates a complete team are the awards and achievements that the team is able to get while the team is together. A complete team is not built around an individual and no change is easily noticed when an individual is missing.
However, if care is not taken, a complete team may lead to lack of cooperation with, or opposition to, new members (it may be difficult for gelling team members to accept a “rookie”), it may be difficult to change attitudes and behaviour of a team that is fully developed (complete) and have an established team culture; new members in a complete team might find the new teamwork contrary to their ‘normal’ lifestyle and practice. They will need reasonable time to fit into the complete team. This could lead to embarrassment and marginalisation. Sub-teams may be formed in a complete team with time. All talents in a complete team should be well-managed so that an individual member does not feel he is important more than others. It may be difficult to motivate a member of a complete team due to self-overrating. This is why it is always good to review a complete team through regular training and review of goals and objectives. It is also very important to have a succession programme for a complete team through talent hunt and training of prospective successors because in an enduring situation, change is the permanent phenomenon.
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