Communication in a Team Setting

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Communication in a Team Setting

"On January 3, 2006 at approximately 11:50pm, CNN and other news outlets reported that 12 of 13 miners trapped in the Sago Mine were alive. Families of the victims celebrated for three hours before mine company officials informed them that the report was wrong and 12 of the 13 miners were dead. The families would later report that a mine foreman, who had overheard the rescue team, had contacted the families with the information and the media picked the story up from the families. Beyond compounding the mental anguish of the families, many professional news media outlets appeared unprofessional and the mine company experienced a far worse public relations problem than if they had communicated properly. While most business communication issues don't result in such dramatic public displays, they often prevent teams from functioning properly and cost companies uncountable billions of dollars". (Wikibooks, 2006, p. 1)

Communication, in a team setting, is the most critical element needed for success. A breakdown in communication can create a nightmare situation as described above and result in untold tangible and intangible company losses.

Teams, loosely described as a group of individuals within an organization working together toward a common goal, can be a major asset to a company. Teams can sometimes achieve goals more readily due to the various strengths and talents of the individuals involved. Employing the team concept has been a longtime tradition in many major corporations. Companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Ford, Monsanto, AT&T and General Electric have used teams to improve production, increase profits and lower absenteeism and turnover. (The Journal for Quality and Participation, 1994, p. 1) The concept of teams has been used in the business world as early as the 1960s and is increasing in popularity every day. However, if the team does not work as a unit, or there are internal or external influences that hinder that unity, goals cannot be accomplished and the role of the team is not beneficial to the company plan.

The main focus of any team's success lies in the communication between its members. Team members must clearly and concisely outline their strategies for accomplishing the goals stated, work jointly with each other to insure that the team is sharing the ideas posted and have the responsibility needed to work alone on their particular focus of the outline. These basic rules of a team must be adhered to in order to prevent a breakdown within the structure. (Wikipedia, 2007)

If a team encounters a collapse in communications between its members, it cannot work cohesively and therefore, the goals will not be attained. A team member who is not clear on his or her aspect of the project, another who does not understand what needs to be accomplished overall or a team member who does not contribute to the entire group can create issues that will prevent the team from being a success. Conflict can result if the team does not have adequate training on the subject or on communication itself. Factors such as apathy, misunderstandings, different cultural backgrounds, and background noise can also have a detrimental effect on the success of the team. (Wikibooks, 2006)

A lack of communication can also affect the community, not just the immediate employees of a company.

"The results of communication issues include withholding information, loss of trust, reduced cooperation, reduced productivity, reduced creativity, reduced risk taking, personal attacks, sabotage, complaints, clique formation and team breakup or individual resignation. The North American Blackout of 2003 is an interesting example. One power plant failed to accurately communicate the status of their section of the power grid, causing more than one hundred power plants to go off line, forty million people to lose power, and an estimated six billion dollars in losses to businesses". (Wikibooks, 2006, p. 1)...
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