Team Success and Failure

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Why Some Teams Are Successful and
Others Are Not!

A team is a group of people coming together to collaborate. This collaboration is to reach a shared goal or task for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. A group of people is not necessarily a team. A team is a group of people with a high degree of interdependence geared toward the achievement of a common goal or completion of a task rather than just a group for administrative convenience. A group, by definition, is a number of individuals having some unifying relationship. Team members are deeply committed to each other's personal growth and success. That commitment usually transcends the team. A team outperforms a group and outperforms all reasonable expectations given to its individual members. When individuals gather to achieve a common goal, many interpersonal dynamics play a role in whether or not the team will be successful. Sometimes a team can mesh well together and succeed at anything they attempt; however, other teams, regardless of available resources, seem to flounder in failure. Workplace teams have been studied tremendously in recent years, and there are many reasons found why some teams succeed and others fail. Researchers find that work teams cluster at opposite ends of the success continuum. Many function beautifully and others fail miserably. Very few are in the middle. The good news is that teams have been so well studied and that people at so many companies have worked in teams for many years. All this research and experience have produced new insights into what distinguishes the successes from the failures. What matters most, it turns out, is how teams are managed and whether the organizations they’re part of provide them with the support they need. There is considerable research which helps managers understand team behavior. We are all part of teams. Our family is a team. Our place of work is a team. The community groups we belong to are teams. Sometimes we are the team leader or “coach” while other times we fulfill the role of follower or “player.” It is so important for us to understand teams and how they work, especially those who achieve success and their achievement of their desired goal. One thing that is important is understanding how people assume roles. When a manager is aware of the behaviors associated with a given role and is aware of the employee’s role in a given situation, they can better predict employee behavior and better determine the appropriate actions to address the situation. People assume different roles in different situations. Some roles are assigned; some are the result of circumstance. Research provides managers with the insights such as people play multiple roles and sometimes at the same time. Also, people learn roles from what they encounter and observe around them for instance from friends, family, movies, T.V., and books. People also shift from role to role very quickly when they realize the situation demands it. Another key factor is understanding group norms. Norms are acceptable standards of behavior shared within a group; they will be different for different groups. In the workplace, group norms may include simple outward items such as an acceptable style of dress, the manner in which discussions are held, or use of titles, first names, or last names. More subtle group norms may include the level of openness or secrecy among members, or the level of pressure to conform to the group’s norms. Groups can exert great pressure on members to make them conform to the group standards. If a group member deviates from the norms, the rest of the group will often pressure them to corrective action, make them uncomfortable in the group setting, or even punish the person for ignoring the norms. While managers cannot always affect or control group norms, there are ways that managers can help create and increase cohesiveness in the team. How cohesive members are with one another is the first factor to consider...
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