The Rules of Management: Know What a Team Is and How It Works
- May 27, 2011
Know What a Team Is and How It Works
So what is a team and how does it operate? If we are going to be successful managers we have to know the answers to these questions.
A team isn't a collection of people. It is an organization with its own dynamics, qualities, and conventions. Without knowing these things, you will flounder. Knowing them, you can work your team to achieve greatness.
In every team there are a variety of people all pushing and shoving in different directions and with unequal force. Some shove louder, if you know what I mean. Others are happy to push from the back. Others don't appear to be doing anything, but you'll need them for ideas.
If you haven't looked at team dynamics before, I urge you to read Meredith Belbin's Management Teams: Why they succeed or fail.* (If you have, go right to the next Rule.) This is designed for managers concerned with achieving results by getting the best from their key people. I'll paraphrase what he says, but I do urge you to practice what he preaches.
Belbin says that there are nine team roles—and we all carry out one or more functions of these team roles. Yes, it is fun to identify our own, but it is much more useful to identify your team's and then work with that information.
The nine team roles are the Plant (that's the ideas person), the Resource Investigator, the Coordinator, the Shaper, the Monitor Evaluator, the Team Worker, the Implementer, the Completer, and the Specialist. If you want to know more, you'll have to read the book.
Now you know who you might have on your team. So what exactly is a team, and how are you going to make yours more effective? Again, read Belbin and also come to understand a team is a group where all the members focus on a collective target. A team doesn't pull together well when each individual member focuses on their own target—be that just getting to the end of the day, their own personal progress, how to appease the boss (that's you, by the way), use work as a social club, and so on.
You'll know you have a team when you hear "we" and "us" more often than "I" and "me."
You'll know you have a team when difficult decisions become easy—because someone says, "It's OK, we're all in this together."
You'll know you have a team when the team tells you it is a team.