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Team Building

  • Forming
  • Norming
  • Storming

Operations & Maintenance (O&M) is a team effort. It cannot be completed by one person alone.  But teamwork does not always happen effectively. Why is this?

To answer this question, we need to step back and look at the different ways in which people come together.

  • A Group - is “a number of people or things that are located close together or are considered or classed together because they share common interests or characteristics”. The members of a group identify with each other due to similar traits. For example: there was a group of people watching the football match between the Blue Shirts and the White Shirts.
  • A Team - is “a group of people who come together to achieve a common goal”. A team is therefore a particular type of group with certain characteristics. For example, the Blue Shirts consider themselves a football team, not a football group. One thing that defines their existence is that they have a purpose: to beat the White Shirts.

All teams are groups of individuals, but not all groups are teams.  On the surface this may seem to be an obvious and simple distinction. However, as we start to learn more about how to effectively manage an organization we will find that there are a number of things other than shared purpose that need to occur.

Teams and groups generally differ in five key ways and the following table provides a summary.

 

Team

Group

Purpose

A team is formed for a particular reason, which can be short-lived or long-lived.

 

 

For example, the Blue Shirts is a football team who are playing against the White Shirts. After the match is over, the Blue Shirts and the White Shirts continue training to get ready for their next matches against the Red Shirts and the Black Shirts respectively.

Can exist as a matter of fact. for example, a group can be comprised of people of the same race or ethnic background.

 

For example, the people watching the football match will watch the match and then each go off to their respective homes - likely never to talk to each other. They may still remain a group of fans of the Blue Shirts or the White Shirts.

Degree of interdependence

Members of a team are highly dependent on one another since they each bring to bear a set of resources to produce a common outcome.

 

For example, the Blue Shirts have some players who are fast runners and others who are more accurate at kicking the ball.

Members of a group can be entirely disconnected from one another and not rely on fellow members at all.

 

 

For example, the people watching the football match do not need to interact with one another other than perhaps the occasional wave.

Task orientation

The members must coordinate their tasks and activities to achieve a shared aim.

 

For example, the Blue Shirts have some members that play attack and some that play defense. Every member of the team must play an active role.

The members of the group do not need to focus on specific outcomes or a common purpose.

 

 

For example, the Blue Shirt’s fans may want their team to win and they may share the goal of encouraging their team to win. However, this is not a mandatory requirement. Some of the fans may choose to sit quietly and observe rather than get actively involved.

Degree of formal structure

The team members' individual roles and duties are specified and their ways of working together are defined.

 

For example, the Blue Shirts have set up arrangements that the attack and defense positions occupy certain zones on the field. There are rules that prevent them from leaving these zones.

The group is generally informal; roles do not need to be assigned and norms of behavior do not need to develop.

 

 

For example, the Blue Shirt fans have no formal structure other than they must sit in the rows of seats around the stadium. However, if they choose to stand or stretch their legs in the aisle the outcome of the game will not be affected (except if they were to riot on the field as hooligans perhaps).

Familiarity with other members

Team members are aware of the other members of the team as they collaborate with them to interact to complete tasks and activities.

 

For example, all the members of the football team with the blue shirts must actively get to know each other – their respective strengths and weaknesses so that they can continue to grow as a team.  

Members of a group may have personal relationships or they may have little knowledge of each other and no interactions whatsoever.

 

For example, some of the fans of the Blue Shirts may know each other and share a meal together during or after the game to chat about the score.  However, most of the fans do not eat or socialize together. 

In the preceding table, the “Blue Shirts” are used as an example of a sports team. When teams form is a business setting they can take various forms. Listed below are a few simple examples:

  • Sole-trader – Mrs. Smith and her family make arts and crafts in their basement that they sell at the market on the weekends.
  • Company - Microsoft is a large software company that sells Windows as an operating system to run computers.
  • Firm - Clark Wilson is a law firm providing legal services to various kinds of construction companies.
  •  Charity – The Kidney Foundation is a charitable organization that raises money for kidney research.
  • Institution – Simon Fraser University is an educational institution that offers a variety of degrees.
  • Association – BC Non-Profit Housing Association is an organization that provides leadership and support to its members in creating and supporting a high standard of affordable housing throughout British Columbia.
  • Society – Maple Leaf Meadows is a (fictitious) housing society that provides affordable housing to people living in and around the town of Maple Leaf.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of team am I part of?
  • Has my team worked together effectively in the past? Do we continue to work well together and what is needed to ensure that this will be sustained into the future?
  • Does each member of my team understand their role on the team?
  • Are we making best use of the relative skills of each member of our team?
  • Do we have appropriate procedures in place for our team to realize its best potential?

Teamwork requires cooperation, coordination and various other things to ensure that everything happens as it should.


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