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Team Effectiveness: What Is It Anyway?

What is Team Effectiveness? It's one of those phrases we all use... and that we all define differently. Lets take a look at how we're defining it on this blog.

131 - huddle-3Defining Team Effectiveness

Team effectiveness: The capacity a group of individuals has to accomplish their own and their shared goals and objectives.

This is influenced by:

  • Social processes and interactions among group members

  • Resource constraints and access

  • Clarity of roles and responsibilities

  • Identification of and commitment to group purpose

  • Skill levels enabling collaboration, conflict resolution and cross-functional understanding

Before we tackle each of those influencing factors one-by-one over the next five weeks, let's start with the core definition. It's an important one, pinpointing one of the most misunderstood aspects of what it means to be a team.

"The capacity a group of individuals has to accomplish their own and their shared goals and objectives" clearly acknowledges the duality. Teams are groups with shared goals. Simultaneously and unavoidably, teams are composed of individuals and each individual has goals of his or her own.

Team Effectiveness Takes Both

Teams are ineffective when these two aspects are not operating in balance.

Some teams fail to identify and focus on their shared goals. Instead, the individual goals take precedence. Team members compete with one another, spending more time on turf protection than on building something together.

Other teams fail to appreciate and allow for individual goals and over-focus on the shared goals. The initial altruism and sacrifice is unsustainable, no matter how noble the cause. After all, humans need to have their own needs met, too.

Ideally, there is overlap between the individual goals and the team's shared goal. That makes everything easier. On the other hand, it also blurs the lines and increases the likelihood that an imbalance between the two will be recognized early on.

Each Team Member is Responsible for Team Effectiveness

From the leader to each individual contributor. Every member of the team has three responsibilities to ensure the proper balance. Being committed to the team's shared goals is the responsibility of every team member. If you can't make that commitment, you shouldn't be on the team. Additionally, all team members needs to maintain responsibility for getting their own individual needs met. This requires being assertive, stating what you need, and finding ways to pursue your goals in accord with the team's pursuit of the shared goal. Finally, each team member has a responsibility to every other team member -- to consider and even accommodate others at times in an effort to support others' efforts to accomplish their own goals.

What about you?

How are you contributing to your team? Are you boosting team effectiveness by living up to all three responsibilities? Step one in expanding the capacity of the team is to fully engage every member of the team by striking this balance.

To learn more about team effectiveness, check out our free video workshop over on PFLA for a snack-sized intro to effective teams.

Check it out!


Topics: team effectiveness

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