“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” - Michael Jordan
It is now several weeks that I am at my new job and even though it has been a rather hectic time, while I learn the ropes, I am thoroughly enjoying it. My new colleagues have been very welcoming and helpful and I find the whole organisation quite different to what I have experienced in my past jobs. There is a great feeling of camaraderie and team spirit, and I have yet to experience any negativity or bitchiness, which unfortunately was very much the case in some of previous places of employ.
My new role involves leading a team of people, some of whom were already appointed when I joined the company while two more are being appointed at the present time. I report to an Executive Director who reports to the CEO. My job is very much one of communication, relationship-building and relationship-nurturing with a number of major tertiary education providers, as well as working with these universities to ensure high quality of their tertiary education programs and the offering of new programs through our institution. The team that I lead has a strong role to play institution-wide in terms of communication and relationship-building. My role is a newly created one as the company is rapidly expanding and there is huge growth in terms of personnel and specialisations in activity.
Getting a team together and facilitating its smooth and effective operation is a task that can be fraught with difficulties. In order to be an effective team member, whether one leads or works with others to bring about the overall success of the organisation, means that one has to understand firstly the mission and objectives of the organisation. One has to work closely with others in order to bring together different talents, diverse knowledge and experience, separate job tasks, a variety of personalities, work ethics and work styles in order to make the team coherent and unified in fulfilling the goals of not only the projects that it is working on, but also ensuring that the goals of the whole organisation are considered. Even though each member of a team has a specific role and task list and each may belong to different work groups, each member works with other members to accomplish the overall objectives. However, the leader must clearly define what the team needs to accomplish and how its goal fits into the bigger picture.
Successful team building is essential to create a focussed team that works well together and achieves results. Knowing something about each of the team members helps a leader work better with the team and this will help with task allocation so that each member can contribute the maximum to the team effort. This is why there are so many “team-building” activities that often have fun, or social context. Seeing your team members as individuals with personalities, knowing something about their likes and dislikes, their interests, hobbies and observing the way they interact with other people will allow you to make better decisions when the team is functioning in a professional context.
There must be clear communication to all team members what the expected outcomes of its work are, and how they are meant to perform to achieve these. Each team member must know why the team was created, and why they each are part of it. Adequate resources, time and money must be available to support the team’s work. The leader must ensure that the actions and tasks of team members are prioritised and that project milestones are reached.
The team must realise the importance of its activities, and how the outcomes of their work will help the organisation achieve its broader, communicated business goals. The organisation’s principles, vision and values must guide the team’s work and the leader must be able to clarify misunderstandings, resolve issues and communicate effectively on progress and achievements of the team, but also give timely advice regarding possible barriers and obstacles to the team achieving its goals. A good leader will elicit out of the team members a whole range of solutions to issues, and the team itself will then be able to get itself back on track.
It is important for team members to have commitment and to want to participate in the team. This is also part of a leader’s tasks, and clear explanations about the team’s mission and expected outcomes are vital. Team members must perceive that their activities are valuable to the organisation, but they must be aware also that their own careers and professional development are advanced. It is important to not only promise team members recognition for their contributions, but to also carry through with delivering rewards and recognition when the team achieves their goal. A good team will provide members with multiple opportunities to enhance their skill set and they should be able to demonstrate they have to grown and developed professionally while in the team. Team members should be excited and challenged by the opportunity to work together.