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Building a Team from a Workgroup


How do we turn a group of people working together into a fully functioning and effective team.?

Well to start with you are all familiar with the cliché, ‘There is no letter ‘I’ in the word team’.

This cliché is well crafted because in life as in business it is extremely difficult if not impossible to achieve anything other than minor success or passing happiness in life or business without partnering with at least one other person and therefore being part of a team.

What exactly is a team?

This is a question often asked and there are many interesting and sometimes humorous suggestions as to what constitutes a team.

The most common definition is something like, ‘A number of people with a complimentary skill and knowledge base and behavioural style harmoniously blended together to achieve a mutually agreed and clearly defined objective’

That definition alone gives huge clues as to the complexity of building a team which will function effectively and achieve the end objective.

‘A number of people’, how many does it take to make a team? Well it’s obvious that you need at least two.


What is the effective upper member limit for a team?

Generally in business it would seem to be around ten.

Most business ‘manager, team leaders’ would tend to struggle have more than ten people reporting directly to them; however there are always exceptions.

A company will be made up of a number of teams which will be determined by the overall size of the company, the business they are in and their preferred method of taking their product or service to the market place.

‘Complimentary skill and knowledge base’, the skill and knowledge base required will of course be to a large extent determined by the objective to be achieved.  The availability of suitable team members with the required skill and knowledge base will naturally also be a determining factor.

However the skill and knowledge base requirement is often underestimated with alarming results as the chosen team members struggle on sometimes even unaware of the deficiency until a critical’ must have by’ timeline approaches. The team leader not knowing quite what to do often just hopes for the best.

Then again, if the skill and knowledge base requirement is overestimated, this may lead to deadlines being missed. This is particularly so when a team is stuffed full of experts with specialised knowledge. What happens is that the team ‘expert egos’ debate options and strategy rather than focusing on meeting a pre determined ‘done by’ date.*

A good example of this is the Apollo Syndrome phenomenon discovered by Dr. Meredith Belbin where teams of highly specialised and capable individuals do often in fact perform badly.

‘Behavioural styles harmoniously blended together’. Most teams are in truth usually selected purely on their perceived skill and knowledge base. The fact that certain behavioural styles may find it difficult to work together is often totally overlooked.

What is often overlooked is that within a team of say 8 people there are no fewer that 28 1:1 unique relationships in existence. Once one takes account of this fact then it is no great surprise that from time to time that teams do run into interpersonal relationship difficulties.

These then lead to the birth of issues which negatively affect total team performance.

Extremely useful tools for assisting in this regard have been developed over the years.

It is a fact though, for the reasons mentioned earlier, that no matter how careful one may be in putting a team together the team dynamic does change with the passage of time.

Many of these changes will of course be positive and for the good of the team and enhance its performance.

It is also true that some of the changes may lead to the team performance slippage. This can be a very difficult and stressful time for all concerned.

TeamFacilitate is a software package which is designed to help the leaders of teams in difficulty. This online system identifies over 400 issues which may cause a teams performance to drift and falter.

Using the outputs of behavioural profiling tools such as Belbin, Myers Briggs and DISC this online system promises to be of huge advantage to team leaders searching for a pathway back to positive team performance.

You may find that TeamFacilitate answers some of your most pressing team and corporate interpersonal relationship problems.

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