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Are they Groups or Teams we find in Organisations?

Are they Groups or Teams we find in Organisations?

One of the key challenges facing organisations today is building effective teams that will help the organisation achieve its goals. The need for teamwork at all levels of the organisation cannot be over emphasized. For organisations to achieve superior performance, employees need to work together. However getting people to work together towards achieving a common goal is a challenging assignment for all managers.

What is a team? There are two key characteristics of a team; the presence of a unifying task and interdependence among the members in accomplishing the task. Besides these, the environment in which a work team operates also plays a key role in the success of any team effort. Putting together an effective team is not an easy task. In most cases people pretend to work together on the surface but there will be deep-rooted divisions within the team that need attention for the team to succeed.  It is easy to talk about teams when in actual fact it is a group of individuals who share nothing in common besides having the same paymaster.

If only organisations could understand and harness the power of collaboration in group relations, there would be a marked improvement in performance. Ordinarily employees are geared to work in teams and the primary role of management in this case is to integrate team practices into everyday work patterns. However, before embarking on this exercise, it is important to assess and understand the teamwork environment in the organisation. Without a thorough understanding of the said environment in the organisation, team building efforts may fail because you might be addressing the wrong team issues. There is also a need to understand team-working styles of each team member. This information can be used as a basis for giving feedback to the individual and fellow team members. The strength of this approach is that information gathered herein normally leads to self-awareness and self-correction.

Effective teams, to a large extent, rely upon the psychological capacity of team members to work together. Individual team members need to have an appreciation of their role in the team and how it affects the effectiveness of the team. The members need to have a clear sense of the goal the team is trying to achieve.  They need to have a collective sense of reality, where each one clearly understands not only their role but also that role of other team members.

In a presentation to the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations Symposium, Susan Long (2000) noted that most people in work teams or organisations saw their role as the single most important without which the organisation would not operate effectively. It is this kind of attitude that forces people to be single-minded in dealing with work colleagues or fellow team members to the detriment of the team.

Considering the number of different groups individuals are members of and the roles they play in these groups at work, there is potential for difficult inter -group relations. The effectiveness of any team efforts revolves around the ability of individual team members to integrate the different roles, values, and the way they exercise authority in groups. The way people exercise authority is very critical in the success of team working in organisations. Without clear authority and boundary definition, work teams spend most of their productive time engaged in counterproductive behaviour.

For a team to be effective there must be a way of containing the anxiety arising from working in a group. When a group of people meet especially in the work place a number of group dynamics take place and, if not handled properly, can destroy the team. You are probably wondering about situations in your own organisations where people rarely work together towards achieving the organisation’s goals. In most cases it will seem there are personality clashes when in actual fact, it is all to do with group dynamics related to how people exercise authority in groups. The bad attributes of the team are often projected onto other people or departments within the organisation. This is normally a source of frustration and conflict that characterizes work teams in organisations today.

Without the ability to understand the deep-rooted psychological basis of group relations, team building efforts will continue to produce lukewarm results.

Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant – Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/  Phone 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: mnguwi@ipcconsultants.com or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com

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