‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’
– African Proverb
Team effectiveness refers to how well a team works together in pursuit of an objective and is responsible for sustained success in an organisation. Granted, there are linchpins who think differently, bringing uncommon insights to the table, a good team is still required to cover blind spots. A great engine can’t drive itself – it needs a host of parts to get a car from points A to B. In like fashion, a building can’t construct itself – it needs a team of architects, planners, engineers and a host of safety personnel.
The importance of a team is made even clearer where complexity is high for example in critical surgical procedures, or in managing advanced fires. Teams may be loosely knit and may have members with differing skill sets, biases and maturity levels. A Stanford Graduate School of Business article indicates that diverse teams are in a better position to hit set targets, having a wider perspective that makes spotting potential trouble spots easy. Diverse teams tend to bring to the table, a wide range of work experiences, related connections and new ideas.
Here are 5 reasons why teams are important;
Teams achieve bigger results.
Research by the McKinsey Global Institute titled “Teamwork at the top” show that the best teams get great results because members focus on working together. Connecting this from biology, the avian science further informs us that birds migrating together fly farther (and expend less energy) than birds that fly solo. This is because the level of energy expended by a group of birds is lower owing to the wind support generated by each bird. Where the task is large and the stakes are high, it is usually better to work with a team, than to go it alone. This is also because the effort required to get good work done on a large scale is often more than one person can handle.
Teams give opportunities for leadership development.
Remember when you had to lead and had no idea how? Many can remember such a time whether at home, at work or at play where we had to act as a leader would. This is one way in which leadership ability is discovered – by looking within, drawing on hidden ability to overcome a challenge. Oddly enough, it is also how leaders get to the next level. That is, we sometimes know we can lead when we have no other options. Even as training and mentoring remain useful, there is no sure fire preparation for the next level of leadership customized to the individual. Leadership is necessary cast a vision for the team and in some cases, pick the right people for the team. It is key to harnessing a team’s potential for achieving results ensuring that individual performers work together as a team. That is, with effective leadership, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
Teams improve relationship management skill.
Consider this: 80% of job descriptions today require an ability to deal with people. The ability to manage relationships is important because work is done by people who have different aspirations, attitudes and belief systems. And as you may have noticed, people tend to do things for their reasons – hence the need for motivation techniques that align the employees with the goals of the organisation. Whether it’s a free meal or investing in a friendly work environment, effective motivation tends to pay off in the long run. So, career advancement is often linked to one’s ability to manage relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Most often, meaningful conversations, rather than well-articulated statements make the difference when projects encounter difficulty.
Teams encourage character development.
Every once in a while, we are reminded that while we’re great at what we do, we still need the input of others. And in some cases, that this takes some getting used to. In a team, this realisation is also a way breakthroughs are reached as it addshumility to the team. Per Jim Collins of Good to Great and Built to Last, humility is a key component of the highest form (level 5) of leadership. Members get to see themselves in a new light, especially when suggestions for adoption by the team are not readily agreed with and then there is the need for compromise. Again, in the presence of equally (or more) intelligent and experienced players, the individual performer is motivated to go the extra mile on assigned tasks. Each individual, being pushed to higher levels of productivity creates a better experience for the final consumer.
Teams aid the improved of critical skills.
There are critical skills without which many ideas would remain on paper. Ideas have to be developed, communicated, negotiated, and navigated through various relationships to get to full expression. Critical skills are needed to take great ideas from inception to execution and then improvement. Ideas need to be communicated in the format understood by the recipient. This means that each team member must be able to convert her idea into formats easily understood by the team. Some team members respond more to text messages, others email, and yes, some prefer face to face meetings. Knowing what format to use could mean the difference between a prompt or delayed response to a request for input.
Here is a summary of what we’ve looked at so far;
- Teams achieve bigger results.
- Teams give opportunity for leadership development.
- Teams improve relationship management skills.
- Teams encourage character development.
- Teams aid the improvement of critical skills.