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How can we build effective and high performance teams?

To create high performing teams that are more effective, following steps could prove to be helpful:

1. Size of the work Teams: The size of the work teams affects the performance of the teams to a larger extent as the best work teams tend to be small in size. As the group members have to share the ideas and information, interact with each other and take the decision, it will become difficult if the group is very large. Larger groups generally lack commitment, cohesiveness and mutual accountability, which are very essential for achieving high performance. The optimum member of members in a group should be from 10 to 15. If the group is larger, manager should try to break it into sub groups.

2. Selection of Members: Efficient managers choose members for teams on the basis of their existing skills and also on the basis of their potential to improve the existing skills and learn new ones. No team succeeds without all the skills needed to meet its purpose and performance goals. To perform effectively, generally a team requires three different types of skills:
(i) Technical skills.
(ii) Problems solving and decision making skills, so that the employees are able to identify problems, generate alternatives, evaluate those alternatives and make competent choices.
(iii) Interpersonal skills e.g. good listening, feed back, conflict resolution etc.
The right mix of all the three skills is essential for the teams for achieving their performance potential.

3. Belief in the purpose of the team: Teams work best in a compelling context. All the members of the team are required to believe that the team has worthwhile and urgent purposes. They like to know the expectations from them. the more meaningful and urgent is the purpose of the team, the more are the chances that the members of the team will live up to the expectations, as was the case for a customer-service team that was told that further growth for the entire company would be impossible without major improvements in that area. Teams work best in a compelling context. This is the reason why organization that have strong performance ethics generally form teams willingly.

4. Selecting right people for the tasks: Effective teams are those which properly match people to various roles. The principle of “Right man for the right Job” should be followed by the team. Teams have different needs and people should be selected in the teams on the basis of their personalities and preferences. By matching individual preference with team role demands, mangers increase the likelihood that team members will work well together. Therefore, the job of every manager is to understand the strengths that each person can being to a team, select members with their strengths in mind and allocate work assignments that fit with member’s preferred styles.

5. Preliminary observations: Particular attention should be paid to actions and the first meetings as the first impression is always very important. When the members of prospective teams meet for the first time, every member is looking at the signals that are given by other members. This way the members make their own assumptions or in case they already have some information, they use these signals to substantiate, defer or dismiss these assumptions. Actions speak louder than words. Particular attention is paid to what, the team leaders or the executives, who otherwise influence the team, do or how they behave. Initial impressions always carry weights.

6. Purpose of the team: Every team should have a meaningful purpose towards which all the members should be committed. This common and meaningful purpose, which is generally broader than the specific goals, provides direction, momentum and aspiration for members. Every team should have a common purpose which is acceptable to the whole team. Members of successful teams spend a tremendous amount of time and efforts into discussing shaping and agreeing upon a common purpose. This purpose should be such which is acceptable to them as individual as well as collectively as a team.

7. Code of Conduct for the members of team: All the effective teams set some clear rules or behavior in the beginning which helps these teams to attain their goals. The most critical codes of conduct pertain to:
(i) Attendance, punctually and regularity.
(ii) Confidentiality
(iii) Analytical approach i.e. to speak only on the basis of facts.
(v) Constructive confrontation i.e. no finger pointing.
(vi.) Contributions in the form of real work.

8. Establishing Specific Goals for teams: The common purpose of the successful team is translated into specific, measurable and realistic performance goals. The success of most of the teams can be traced back to major performance oriented measures. Such measures can be initiated by establishing the performance goals. Teams cannot exist without performance outcomes. Specific goals help teams maintain their focus on getting results.

9. Common Approach: After the specific goals have been established, high performance teams also need leadership and structure to provide focus and attention. A common approach ensures that the team is unified for the purposes of achieving the goals. In this context the team members must agree upon the following issues. Who is to do what, How to share the workload, How the schedules are to be set, how and what skills are to be developed, how to resolve the conflicts, how to make and modify the decisions? To agree upon all the above matters, team leadership and structure are required. Leadership and structure can be provided by the management or by the team members themselves.

10. Supplying latest information to the teams: Teams generally make mistakes when they come to the conclusion that all information required is already present in the combined understanding and experience of the team members. A team leader should challenge the team members regularly by providing them with new information. It will cause the team to redefine and enrich is understanding of the performance challenge thereby, helping the team shape a common purpose, set clearer goals and improve its common approach.

11. Encouraging personal bonding: Team members must spend considerable time with each other, particularly during the early phases. It is very important to build up the personal bonding and creative insights which is possible through casual interactions as well as analyzing the facts and interviewing the customers. It is not necessary that all the members should always be together physically, but they can be together by talking over the phone or with the help of other means of communication.

12. Making every member individually responsible and accountable: In an effective time, individuals are made individually and jointly accountable for the team purpose, goals and approach. Every member should be very clear as to what he is individually responsible for. Otherwise some members try to hide inside a group. They try to take advantage of the group efforts because their individual contribution can’t be identified. This tendency can be curbed by making the individuals accountable at both individual as well as team level.

13. Suitable Performance Evaluation: As the individuals are accountable at both the individuals at both the individuals as well as the team levels, the traditional methods of evaluating individual’s performance will not be consistent with the development of high performance team. Thus, the management should consider group based performance appraisals along with individual performance evaluations.

14. Recognition and Rewards: Positive reinforcement can improve teams effort and commitment. There are a lot of methods to recognize and reward the performance of a team like profit sharing, small group incentives etc. Suitable awards can be given to the members of the team to recognize the contributions made by them. However, in the end the satisfaction shared by a team over its own performance becomes a cherished award in itself.

15. Developing Trust among Members: These should be high level of mutual trust among members. They should believe in the integrity, character, competence, consistency loyalty and openness of each other. Building up and maintaining trust requires a careful attention by the management as it takes a lot of time to build but can be easily destroyed and is hard to regain. Moreover trust and distrust begets distrust. Thus, for high performance teams, it is a must that there should be high degree of mutual trust among the team members.

What are the different types of teams?

The teams are classified on the basis of the objectives they have to achieve. Generally we find these three types of teams in organizations self manage teams, problem solving teams and cross functional teams. These three different types of teams are discussed in detail:

(i) Self managed teams
Usually there are ten to fifteen members in a self managed team who have taken the responsibilities of their former supervisors. They are responsible for the collective control over the speed of the work and the determination of work assignments. They are also responsible for the organization of breaks and the collective choice of inspection procedures. These teams even select their own members and these members evaluate each others performance. Supervisory position take on decreased importance and in some cases, can even be eliminated.

Business journal are all over the world are full of articles describing successful operation of self managed teams. These teams help to increase the employee satisfaction and the volume of business of the companies. These teams lead to reduction in costs and increase in productivity.

In spite of the increasing importance of self managed teams, some organizations have been disappointed with the results of these teams. The overall research on the performance of these teams has also not been very positive. The employees working in self managed teams seem to have higher absenteeism and turn over rates than do employees working in traditional work structures. The specific reasons for all this are not very clear and require some additional research.

(ii) Problem solving teams
These are the traditional types of teams and in the beginning almost all teams of this form. Generally there are five to ten employees in every department who meet for a few hours every week to discuss the methods to improve efficiency and the quality of work. The purpose of these teams is to share the ideas and listen to the suggestion about the methods of improving the work processes. These teams usually give the suggestions only and do not have the authority to implement these suggestions. The quality circles are the most common form of problem solving teams. These teams are not very popular among the present day organizations as these could only suggestions but could not implement these suggestions and take the responsibility for the outcomes of these suggestions.

(iii) Cross functional teams
The cross functions teams are most popular forms of teams in the recent days. These days teams are made up of employees from about the same hierarchical level but from different work areas, who come together to accomplish a task. The examples of cross functional teams can be task forces and committees. A task force is a temporary cross functional team and committees are group made up of members from across departmental lines.

Cross functional teams are an effective means for allowing people from diverse areas within an organization (or even between organizations) to exchange information, develop new ideas and solve problems and co-ordinate complex projects.

Despite the usefulness of cross functional teams, these teams are quite difficult to manage. Particularly, the initial stages of development are very time consuming as in these stages members learn to work with diversity and complexity. When people from different back grounds, experiences and with different perspectives come together, is takes time to build trust and team work. It will depend upon the capabilities of managers to facilitate and build trust among team members.

What is the importance of teams in business organizations?

The experts are almost unanimous on benefits of teams in the business organizations. Teams have become immensely popular in the organizations as these offer the following benefits:

1. Improved output due to Positive Synergy: Teams have the potential to create high levels of productivity due to positive synergy created by them. The output in the form of performance productivity is generally more than the summation of inputs put in the form of employee efforts. There is draw back of positive synergy also. Sometimes, managements resort to cuts in staff to use the positive synergy to get the same or greater output from fewer people.

2. Improved Organizational Communication: As the teams encourage interactions, it will lead to improved communication. In case of self managed teams, interpersonal dependencies are created which require the members to interact considerably more than when they work on jobs alone. Cross functional teams create inter-functional dependencies and increase organization wide communication.

3. Enhanced Employee Motivation: Work teams help in enhancing the employee motivation. Because work teams encourage employee involvement, these make the jobs more interesting and fulfill the social needs of the employees. Individuals are likely to perform better when they are working in the presence of other people. Individuals will work harder and put in a lot of extra efforts to remain in the team’s good graces.

4. Organizational Flexibility: Management has found that teams are more flexible and responsive to changing events than the traditional departments or other forms of permanent groupings. Teams have the capability to quickly assemble, deploy, refocus and disband. All this is because of the reason that teams focus on processes rather than functions. They encourage cross training so members can do each other jobs and expansion of skills. This expansion of skills increases organizational flexibility.

5. Satisfaction of Social Needs: Man is s social animal. He always feels the need of affiliation. Teams can satisfy this need of the employees by increasing worker interactions and creating a feeling of brotherhood and friendship among team members. Such employees are always in a better position to cope with stress and they enjoy their jobs more.

6. Commitment to Team Goals: Teams generally develop a common purpose, commitment to that purpose and agreement upon specific goals. All this combined with the social pressures exerted by the teams result in a high degree of commitment to common team goals. The individual members sublimate their individual goals for the common goals of the group.

7. Benefits of Expanded Job Training: The implementation of teams work always leads to expanded job training. Through this training employees build their technical, decision making and interpersonal skills.

Though the introduction of teams does not always achieve these benefits, but we can’t ignore the reality that team movement currently has tremendous momentum and reflects management’s belief that teams can be successful in a wide range of settings. These are obviously contingency factors that influence the acceptance and success of teams.

What are the characteristics of effective teams?

The importance of team functioning has been highlighted by a number of writers and some of the characteristics of effective teams have been highlighted by them are: The atmosphere in teams is generally relaxed, informal and comfortable. All the members of the team understand and accept the task assigned to the team. All the members of the team listen to each other and a lot of discussion related with the task is done in the team. The team members can freely express their feeling their ideas and though there are conflicts disagreements among the members of the teams but these are only about the ideas and methods related with the completion of the task and not focused around the personalities and members of the team. Generally the decisions the team are based on consensus and once the action have been decided upon, clear assignment are given to the members of the team. When all these characteristics are present in a team, it means the teams is capable of successfully achieving its objectives and at the same time, satisfy the personal and inter-personal needs of its members. Thus the following characteristics are found in effective teams. These are a clear purpose, informality, participation, listening, civilized disagreement, consensus in decision making, clear roles and assignment, share leadership, open communication and self assessment.

What is the nature of the teams?

Teams have emerged as the most important group phenomenon in the organization. Earlier the importance of the team work was confined to sports activities but now in business also team work as become very important. In the past business organizations were focused around individuals but now teams have become the primary means for achieving the organizational goals. Some times the terms team and group are used interchangeably but they are not the same. While a work group consist of a number of a person that report to common superior and have face to face interaction and there is a certain level of inter-dependence in carrying out the tasks but they performance of a team can provide individuals results and collective products also. We can say that though a team is also a group but it has some characteristics in greater degree as compare to ordinary groups. These characteristics include a higher commitment towards the goals of the group and a higher degree of inter-dependence and interaction. These characteristics make a team different from an ordinary group. There are some difference between work groups and teams. While the basic purpose of a work group is to interact for the purpose of sharing information, the basic purpose of work team is to perform collectively. While the work group must have a strong and clear focused leader, teams generally do not have clear leaders and the leadership roles are also shared. The work group meets through the formal and efficient meetings the teams are encouraged to have open ended active problems solving meetings. The functioning of the work group that it discusses decides and delegates the work, the functioning of the team is to discuss beside and then do the real work also.

What is cross cultural negotiation?

Negotiation is a dialogue between two or more parties who try to work out a solution to their problems. It is a process that can take place at the corporate or the international level. Negotiations take place because both the parties recognize or acknowledge that there is a conflict of interest and try to get a better deal out of these negotiations.

Cross cultural negotiation require the parties to resolve the psychology factors including the attitudes, goals, expectation and the styles of persuasion of the parties. All negotiations require planning but it becomes all the more important in case of international negotiation. Planning may include they knowledge about the taxation procedure and other legal requirements in a country. Having political data and the information related to the work force available in a country could also form a part of the planning for international negotiations.

What is the concept of International Human resource management?

International Human resource management is the process of procuring allocating and effectively utilizing the human resources in a multinational corporation. While HR Managers in these organization have to integrate HR policies and practices across a number of subsidiaries spread in several countries so that the organization goals can be achieve at the same time they have to make these policies and practices sufficiently flexible to allow significant differences in these policies in different countries.

International HRM is concerned with identifying and understanding how the MNC’s manage their geographically dispersed worked force in order to leverage their HR resources for obtaining local as well as global competitive advantage.

What is a difference between International and Domestic Human Resource Management?

In the past much importance was not given to the difference between International and Domestic HRM due to the similarities and continuities between the two but in this era of globalization the study of human resource management in an international context has become important.

Though broadly speaking international HRM includes the same activities that are involved in domestic HRM but while the domestic HRM performs these activities within the boundaries of a country, the international HRM has to perform these activities in at least three countries. These are the parent country where the organization is headquartered, host country where the unit is located and the countries from where the employees or the human resources of the organization are coming.

Thus we see that in international HRM employee can be either from the parent country, the host country or the third country. This makes the knowledge of the conditions in these countries an integral part of the international human resource management.

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