Managing Your Team Summary
What is an Effective Team?
Managers should apply three interrelated criteria in assessing overall team effectiveness: 1. Does the team’s output (e.g., decisions, products, services) meet the standards of those who have to use it? It is not enough that the team is pleased with its output or even that the output meets some objective performance measure. If the team’s output is unacceptable to those who have to use it, it is hard to argue that the team is effective. Moreover, the various constituencies who rely on the team’s output may focus on different performance standards (e.g., quantity, quality, innovativeness, timeliness). 2. Does the team experience contribute to the personal well-being and development of the members? Some teams operate in ways that frustrate the personal satisfaction of team members and thwart their development. Other teams provide their members with multiple opportunities to satisfy their individual needs and to continually stretch and develop. 3. Does the team experience enhance the capability of the members to work and learn together in the future? If the team functions in ways that lead members to distrust one another, the team will find it difficult to work together on future initiatives. For instance, team members will be less willing to share their expertise and information with one another if the team culture becomes one of unbridled competition in which individuals play out "hidden agendas." In contrast, over the life of an effective team, the members learn to anticipate one another’s moves and to respond appropriately to support those moves as they occur. They learn to revitalize and regenerate themselves (e.g., adapt their agenda and operating guidelines) in response to new demands placed on them by the organization or competitive environment. Managing the Team’s Boundary
As the formal authority and the "nerve center" for their teams, managers are uniquely placed to manage the team’s boundary and thereby proactively create the context necessary for team success. If their teams are to be effective, managers have to continually scan their competitive environment and monitor the activities of key external constituencies (e.g., customers, suppliers, competitors, regulators, financial markets, the media) on whom they are dependent. As appropriate, they must build and maintain key relationships with those outside the organization in order to detect changes in the priorities and needs of these constituencies and prepare the team for new opportunities and threats. The more turbulent the external environment, the more attention should be paid to competitive monitoring and communication with constituencies outside the organization. Managers also need to manage relationships with those who are outside their teams but inside their organizations. To do so, they must understand the power dynamics of the larger organization and invest time and energy in building and maintaining relationships with those on whom the team is dependent. It is the manager’s responsibility to manage the inevitable trade-offs and to equitably negotiate and integrate his or her team’s interests with those of others (e.g., superiors, peers in other functional or geographic areas). In addition, it is the manager’s job, at a minimum, to educate others about organizational structures, systems, or policies that interfere with the team’s performance. For instance, managers should inform the relevant parties when the organization’s information system does not provide timely information the team requires, when the incentive plan discourages collaborative behavior between their team and teams in other functional areas with which they are highly interdependent, or when more formal training is needed because team members lack key expertise. Unfortunately, many new managers neglect these relationships and their teams find themselves having to meet unreasonable...