Work Team Effectiveness

Teams  are the building blocks of today’s organizations,  but not all teams are effective. Teams often do not live up to their potential or to the dreams managers have for them. Good  leaders help teams be successful.

In this section, we look at the positive outcomes of effective teams. By assessing teams in terms of productive output, personal satisfaction, and the capacity to adapt and learn, managers can better identify  actions that will enhance work team effectiveness.93


One aspect of effectiveness relates to whether the team’s output  (such as decisions, prod- ucts, or services) meets the requirements  of customers or clients in terms of quality, quan- tity, and timeliness. An IBM team made up of members in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, for example, used collaboration  software as a virtual meeting room to solve a client’s technical  problem  resulting  from Hurricane Katrina within the space of just a few days.94 Whether online or in physical space, effective meetings are essen- tial to effective teamwork. The upcoming Benchmarking  feature gives some tips for run- ning a great meeting.

Effective employee teams often unleash enormous energy and creativity from workers. Research has found that working in a team often increases an individual’s motivation and performance. Social facilitation refers to the tendency for the presence of others to enhance one’s motivation and performance. Simply being in the presence of other people has an energizing  effect.95  This benefit of teams is often lost in virtual and global teams because people  are  working in isolation from their teammates. Organizations  such as MySQL,  described  earlier, build in  communication   mechanisms that keep team members interacting.


Another important question is whether the team experience contributes  to the well- being, personal satisfaction, and development of its members. Effective  teams provide multiple opportunities for people to satisfy their individual  needs and to develop both personally and professionally.96   Employees have needs for belongingness and affiliation, and working in teams can help meet these needs. Participative  teams can also reduce boredom, increase individuals’  feeling of dignity and self-worth, and contribute to skill development because the whole  person is employed. At Radius, a Boston restaurant, for example, two-person  kitchen teams have full responsibility for their part of a meal, which gives them a greater   sense of accomplishment and importance and enables them to expand their culinary and organizational skills.97 People who have  a satisfying   team environment cope better with stress, enjoy their jobs, and have a higher  level of organi- zational commitment.


A professor of management at Santa Clara University  analyzed 14 years of National Bas- ketball Association results and found that teams that had played together longer won more games. By playing  together  over a period of time, members learned to anticipate their teammates’ moves and adapt their own behavior to defeat the competition.98  The same thing happens in effective work teams, where members can anticipate one another’s actions and respond appropriately. A good example is the emergency room trauma team at Massa- chusetts General Hospital, which functions  so smoothly  that the team switches leaders seamlessly depending on the crisis at hand. With each new emergency, direction may come from a doctor,  nurse, intern, or technician—whoever is particularly  experienced with the problem.99 Over time, effective teams learn from experience and use that learning to revital- ize and regenerate themselves, smoothly adapting to shifting organizational and competi- tive demands.100

Source: Daft Richard L., Marcic Dorothy (2009), Understanding Management, South-Western College Pub; 8th edition.

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