Teamwork is a matter of life and death; this can never be fully comprehensible until one visits a hospital surgery unit where the various stakeholders (doctors, nurses and technologists) refuse to work as a team in conducting a surgery. Sachs (2005) has noted a case where a woman (38 years old) was admitted to major medical center to give birth to her first child. The woman was low risk patience who had mildly lofty blood pressure. She has noted that the admission ended tragically with an emergency caesarean section after a failure in the forceps delivery. During the operation it was identified that the uterus had ruptured and her placenta was in her abdomen. The fetus delivered was stillborn. The doctors tried to repair her uterus, all in vain. She had to receive a full hysterectomy, blood transfusion and many complications that kept her in intensive care unit for three weeks. After an analysis was done so as to identify the cause of such an abnormal occurrence, it was identified that lack of teamwork during the caesarean section operation was to blame majorly in communication, and lack of cross monitoring of mutual performance. The analysis also identified that there were inadequate conflict resolution mechanisms. The situational awareness was lacking among some of the facilitators of the operation. It was also found that there was work overload among some of the people that were involved in the operation. All the above are major requirements for any team to be successful; their absence could interpret to grave effect as experienced by this woman, for the rest of her life, she will never give birth and the only source of her hope, the first child, did not survive; who is to blame for all these, lack of teamwork in such a sensitive area. Therefore teamwork is a matter of life and death, the absence of a team in an organization where they are needed can lead to intensive losses on the business or the organization in question.
Research literature has identified that a team is made up of two or more persons who have specified roles, performing tasks that are interdependent but sharing a common goal (Salas et al. 1992). The current trend of many organizations and industries is team and teamwork; initially in many organizations individuality was highly emphasized, every person was required to table his end of term or assignment products. Many organizations have been reorganized so as to improve the end result and to lower the cost of production. It has been found out that as organization's teamwork increases, the cost of production is lowered. The ability of a team to co-work effectively to a common objective is essential to the success of any business. It has been identified by successful organizations that teams are better placed to making a more pronounced impact and difference than when people work as individuals. If an organization has flexible productive and strong teams, which is the competitive edge that is needed for the much needed better results, the quality of the end product is enhanced as the cost of production is lowered; such brings about expanded growth in the organization in question (Long, 1987).
In the establishment of teams in organizations, there are various objectives that are supposed to act as a guide to the process, such objectives include, as noted by Long (1987):
- To learn how to release the potential and power within the teams.
- Top make discovery of new solutions so as enhance effectiveness and cohesiveness of teams.
- Explore ways as well as build teams' motivation and commitment.
- Discovery of the tools that can facilitate the strengthening of teams while building whole hearted corporations.
- Gaining of personal insight on how individual behaviors and actions can either add or detract from teambuilding and teamwork.
- The roles and values of leadership in teams in the achievement of the hoped for results.
- The necessity of effective personnel as well as interpersonal communication.
- Resource management and talents available in each and every member.
- Importance of vision within the teams and between the various teams.
- The diverse methods of problem solving as well as the various ways of handling conflicts and differences among the team members.
- Need for the unity and commitment of the team members for cohesiveness and conducive working environment.
In order for teams within an organization to work effectively, it's incumbent for the teams to posses some given knowledge and skills. In addition to specific knowledge and skills, the attitude of the teammates is paramount in the success of the activities that they are engaged in; all the workers should be motivated by a common attitude. Some of the skills that are very key in the success of a team include: skills to monitor teammate's performance, understanding of personal and teammate's responsibilities and tasks and disposition to working within a team (Sims, Salas, and Burke 2004).
Components of an effective team work:
Having a team work in place is not enough; the question that the management aught to answer in making a team be successful in its role is "are all the basic components of an effective team present in the team in question? Effective teamwork is very fundamental to the success of any organization as I have argued above; it has been argued once and again that "no man is an island."
There are four components that are essential for a successful and effective team, they include:
- Positive corporate culture: it's needful of an organization to have a positive and invigorating corporate culture for the recruitment of effective team members. A potential team member thrives best when the environment is challenging and with creativity opportunity. Positive corporate culture depends on top bottom management. The manager has a responsibility to foster good climate through: making the teams expectations and rewards clear, having a detailed job descriptions, which is followed by personal discussions directed towards clarifications and delegating responsibilities to each team members and demanding for accountability from each member and from the entire team. The team members should be placed in such a way that they have power to make decisions that affect their areas of accountability. It's incumbent for the management to support the decisions advanced by the teams. In a situation where the management is not contented with the decisions of the team members, it should sail through with them in helping them understand your basis of arguments and reasoning; one should avoid reprimanding and chastising of the team members (Ikeda, Ashley, & Chan, 2006).
- Give recognition: Giving of recognition to the employees is very importance in facilitating their success. Team members are most likely to seek the recognition of the management. It has been identified that failure of the administration to do a positive recognition for successes of team members will drive them to seeking negative recognition which will most probably be at the expense of the business or the organization in question. Among the things that an organization's management ought to consistently recognize in a team are: Outstanding performance, especially for those who exceed their goals or what is expected of them, continued performance for the team members who have a good record of consistency in positive production and improved performance more so for those who have made efforts to improve their performance and those who have demonstrated progress (Ikeda, Ashley, & Chan, 2006).
- Positive feedback: If the teams are not given feedback, they are not able to gauge their progress; whether they are progressing or retrogressing. Lack of feedback has been found to bring about confusion as the teams do not know whether they delivered according to the expectations or their work was a fiasco. Failure to give feed back to teams kills their morale bringing about disappointment to the individual members and to the organization at large. If feedback is positive it should be done in public as it acts a source of inspiration and recognition. In giving the feedback, the management should be detailed; not just the fact that it was great job, but how it was a great job. Praises and congratulations should accompany the positive feedback. The feedback can be formal or informal, where the former should be done in a consistent and planned form may be in a report (Ikeda, Ashley, & Chan, 2006).
- Provide new opportunities: despite the fact that a team member may be outstanding, the management should never overlook the fact that every person is an individual. One need to keep the most effective team members through provision of more opportunities otherwise an alternative would interpret to boredom which may compel such a person to seek opportunities elsewhere. The team members should be helped in planning of their long-term careers basing on the organizations needs. Help the team members to realize how their career goals can be of use to the organization. Therefore the organization management should help in tailoring each individual in the team to achieve their desired goals and unique talents. This is achievable through providing an environment that has richness of creativity and energy without overlooking the importance of openness (Ikeda, Ashley, & Chan, 2006).
In teamwork partnership each individual member brings in their different skills, perspectives as well as interests. Its important for all the team members to feel involved so as they can acquire a sense of ownership consequently working for the success of individual goals and the corporate goals. Responsibilities should be shared among all the members of the team in order to build on commitment as well as a sense of accomplishment. The designation of roles and responsibilities should be equitable. A mare involvement of group members does not qualify them to be team members; for effectiveness among the members to be achieved it's important for all the members to be integrated into the system so that they will own it up.
In order for the team to be effective in performing its duties, the following must be done:
- Ensure that all the team members have a part to take in the development of shared vision and achievement of the common goal. A good foundation of a functional team that is assured of achieving its common goals requires the sharing of the vision of the organization with all the members of the team. The organization and individual agendas should be tabled right from the onset (Powel, 1991).
- Define the roles and responsibilities of each member and each team. The definition and articulation of roles and responsibilities has demonstrated that collaboration leads to partners contributing whatever they have to the success of the overall goals. The definition of the roles of the lead agency, committee chairman, members, meeting facilitators should be clear to all the stake holders. In these definitions some of the things that should be very clear are: what it means to assume one of the roles? what is each person responsible for if one take the role accorded to him and how long is the person expected to the serve in that role? In this, one should promote individual accountability within a group or within their team. Having clear expectations enable individual members to acquire information that they require in the process of making informed decisions in relation to participation. There is a high likelihood that members will accept more reasonable task while ensuring that action plans are implemented successfully if they have clear definition of their roles and responsibilities (Powel, 1991).
- Involvement of all the partners in the activities of the project during meetings and discussions. The managements should always make efforts to schedule meetings in times that all the members should be present. The organization should develop mechanisms that will be used to communicate to all the members of any meetings, agendas, decisions arrived at and the minutes of those meetings especially for the team members who were absent in the meeting. Open communication should be maintained and always endeavor to having consensus in decisions making (Guvenc, Alpander, Carroll, & Lee, 1995).
- Seek commitment from partners. The team leaders have a role of encouraging all the members to be actively involved in the collaboration of the team. The commitment is achievable and sustainable through ensuring that the leaders in the team demonstrate integrity and commitment to the team. Equal treatment of all members as well as respecting the diversity of different members without making attempts to change their individuality plays an important role in enhancing members' cohesiveness and consequently production (Guvenc, Alpander, Carroll, & Lee, 1995).
In the implementation of the above strategies, the team leaders and the management should avoid pitfalls. In the endeavor to strengthen teamwork it's good to be aware of the most likely pitfalls that may hinder the same. The group leaders should table all the challenges that act as barriers to achieving the cohesiveness of the team and discuss it with the team members. The team members should air their feelings as well make proposals that they think if employed the challenge would be curbed. The leaders should be keen to be in a position to diagnose struggling members. If the group leaders are keen they shall be able to notice those groups that are stuck and help them to get back to their feet, through assessment of the cause of the failure and devising a solution together with the team (Powel, 1991).
Benefits that an organization gets from teams and teamwork:
As outlined earlier teamwork is not comparable to individuality in the industrial production process, there are several benefits that result from using of teams, among others are;
Benefits to the manufacturer as outlined by Mayer, (2004):
- A work force that is flexible and multi skilled.
- Increase in the quantity of production as well the efficiency of the production process.
- Retained orders.
- Improvement of the quality of the organizations product through team responsibility.
- Reduction of rates of absenteeism through the achieved team's greater commitment to work.
- Reduction in labor turnover achieved through improved working conditions.
Benefits to the workforce as outlined by Mayer, (2004):
- There is an increased working condition as well as increased motivation of the workers.
- Opportunities for making decisions geared towards solving problems are provided for, motivating the employees to gain a sense of ownership.
- Greater variety leading to reduced boredom; the team members are moved in different locations once in a while, hence they don't get job monotony or boredom that would facilitate to their leaving to other organizations for a change.
- The increased production and lowered cost motivates the employer to increase the employees pay, hence increased average earnings.
- Team work facilitates to an improved relation between the organization's employees and the management.
- There is an improvement in the quality of the end product drawn from team accountability.
- There is an improvement in delivery performance; this is because of the speed in the teamwork whereby every person does one thing without employing a lot of thinking that an individual would if changing from one role to another.
- Fast response to the demands of the clients. The rapidness in responding to the demands of the clients is attained through employment of flexibility in teamwork that is hard to achieve for an individual working the whole process alone.
- Wider variety of goods are availed to the customer since when many people are working on a certain product, there is a high possibility of wide thinking, hence more inventions.
The concept of team building refers to a wide range of activities that are planned so as to help groups in improvement of the manner in which they accomplish the tasks accorded to them. The activities help members to enhance their interpersonal relations as well as their problem solving skills which consequently increases the team's performance. Team building has been considered as an effective approach towards improving teamwork in the accomplishment of tasks. The team building activities makes maximum use of the resources from the members (human resource) and contributions. These activities play a significant role in motivation of group members to implement the decisions of the group. There are certain problems that can not be handled easily without having team building activities, such problems include: Apathy, a general lack/ loss of interest in the team's activities, lose or reduced productivity, increase in complaints in the teams, general confusion on the assignments accorded to groups, timeliness, effectiveness of end products and services, conflict among the team members and hostility between and among team members and teams respectively.
The limitations of teams and teamwork
Its incumbent to understand that teamwork is not a solution to all the problems; as much as there are uncountable benefits that are drawn from using teams in responding to the demands of the organization for more profits and increased production, there are some disadvantages that come along with having a teamwork within an organization, they include:
Mutual performance monitoring: There are changing and complex demands that are naturally placed on team members. These complex and dynamic tasks alter the members' workloads introducing unexpected demands consequently making it very hard if not impossible for an individual team member to complete the assignment accorded to him/ her. The mutual monitoring process sometimes acts as a limitation whereby the members with personal conflict use those opportunities to criticize the works of others.
Back up behavior: employment of monitoring in teamwork is necessary but not necessarily effective in the running of teams. This is identified when the individual duties in the system are not clear; there are some who use those loopholes as escapism from their duties. For example if the production process has several stages with each stage having several people involved, there is a high likelihood that some people will underperform at the expense of their team members, such would not happen if they were accorded individual roles without the teams.
Teams are very essential in relation to the performance of any organizations. Those who advocate for teamwork in organizations argue that together people are bale to do much that they would as individuals. The production process is quite complex, if individuals were to work alone in completing the process so as to get the end product, the highest possibility would be lowered production, increased cost of production and production of stagnated quality product, the effect of this would be lose of clients, and most likely closure of the organization.
There are several components that are needful for teamwork to be successful in achieving the goals of the organization in question, the components as outlined in the this research paper include: Positive corporate culture, where an organization should provide the team members with a positive and invigorating corporate culture which offers challenges and opportunities for creativity, giving of recognition whereby team members should be appreciated for good and improved achievements, Positive feedback whereby the team members are given feed back for the duties performed and Provide new opportunities to the team embers to expand their careers.
In order to achieve the goals of a team, the management and the group leaders are required to employ some strategies which include: Seek commitment from partners where the members are required to show their commitment to the group, Involvement of all the partners in the activities and ensuring that no single member is kept at bay from the teams activities, define the roles and responsibilities of each and every member of the team, and ensure that all the team members have a part to take in the development of shared. There are many benefits that an organization, the work force and the consumers of the product draw from teamwork production. Nevertheless, there are some few disadvantages emanating from use of teamwork in organizations. For the success of teams and teamwork, its important for the team leaders to organize team building activities that will pray a significant role in facilitating the achievement of the goals of the teams.
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