How to manage team processes

Steps managers need to take to ensure teams are working effectively:

  • Facilitate setting of clear team goals and objectives
  • Establish mutually agreed ground rules
  • Agree effective allocation of tasks, and clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Develop individual contributions
  • Carry out task and maintenance activities
  • Develop trust
  • Arrive at concensus in the team

Chapter 8 of the B628 course book contains a useful checklist for team leaders and managers which goes into more detail. Well worth a scan.

The team lifecycle

A team goes through various stages of development, according to Tuckman and Jensen (1977):

  • Forming: pre-team stage where people still work as individuals.
  • Storming: the team becomes more aggressive and challenges existing rules or constraints.
  • Norming: when the team works out how best to use its resources to carry out the task.
  • Performing: the team is working at its optimal best.
  • Adjourning (or mourning): the team disbands and individuals move on.

A group is not necessarily a team

The terms group and team are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between a group and a team. All teams are groups, but not all groups are teams. A team is a special kind of group that unites its members towards a common objective.

There are many different kinds of groups:

  • Primary groups – regular and frequent interactions in working towards a common task.
  • Formal groups – deliberately created to serve an organisational need.
  • Informal groups – formed outside formal structures to serve individual needs.
  • Secondary groups – interact less frequently, and often larger than primary groups.

Table 8.1 in Chapter 8 of the B628 course book lists some interesting differences between groups and teams.

Table 8.2 takes this a step further and makes suggestions on whether to work in groups or teams, depending on context.

Contextual leadership

One of the most interesting things I read about leadership in the B628 course book was the observation that modern approaches to leadership see it as being highly contextual. Different leaders taking part and playing different roles at different times. There are no fixed qualities that make one person a leader, and there are no guarantees that one person will be a leader in all situation at all times.

Leadership is about tackling three core issues:

Strategic issues: the results the organisation seeks, including what direction the organisation should take, what opportunites and threats should be considered, etc.

Task issues: the individual tasks the organisation needs to carry out in order for it to achieve its results.

People or maintenance issues: the relationships between leaders and their followers, including morale, motivation, and cohesion.