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The secret ingredient for a Team’s success - Cohesion!

Several months back I had an interesting discussion with my friends Rajeev and Ganga. My friend Rajeev was not in his usual sunny mood. When I asked him what the matter was, he burst out “I don’t know what is ailing my current team. It is just not performing. I have done all the right things like defining common team goals to build the team. Ganga suggested “Perhaps there is a problem with your team’s cohesion.” .” “Team’s cohesion, what do you mean?” I asked. What she explained to us not only provided a possible solution to Rajeev’s problem but also got me thinking ...
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I strongly subscribe to a ‘Strengths based Team Leadership’. Normally there is a tendency to focus on weaknesses of individuals. Research conducted over the last 35 years by leading research organisations like Gallup show that it is the ‘Strengths of Individuals’ and not just ‘People’ who are the assets of an organisation. Thus teams have to be built on individual strengths.

Read More

 

This book is a must read for Managers. And it takes up such real life issues that as a Manager you can relate to all these issues. This makes the book more relevant than other books on the same subject. It shows the transformation of a team overnight from one that routinely underachieves, fails to take initiatives, ...

Read More

 
 

Do you remember as a child playing the game of drawing the monkey’s tail blind folded? Well, managing virtual teams is something like that. Trying to get results with a group of people you might never have met in person! Teams that have team members working in different locations or on different floors in the same ...

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In today’s fast paced and competitive business scenario, effective teamwork is the key to accomplishing something extraordinary! But as you'll know from the teams you have led or belonged to, you can't expect a new team to perform exceptionally well from the very outset. Team formation takes time, and usually travels through various stages, as the team journeys from ...
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Editorial

   
 

Adding that “Alpha” to Teams

   
 


I am pleased to share with you that Prerana articles are now being published by Information week in their online version. Information week is a global property of UBM plc, a global live media and B2B communications, marketing service and data provider. Information week is a strong brand in the technology space. Its readers are largely CIO's and senior IT folks. This has been possible because of the huge support and encouragement that you’ll have provided us in the last four years and more. Thank you!

‘Teams’ are here to stay and it is one topic that will never get outdated. In our current issue we specifically touch upon an important aspect of team effectiveness viz., Team Cohesion. And if you think team cohesion automatically happens once a team is formed then you are in for some good insights. And you will learn just like I did that only if you get the team cohesion right along with everything else that is required for a team’s effectiveness, will the team be successful. Merely being together at the workplace doesn’t necessarily guarantee a team will be cohesive, it simply means that a group of people are occupying the same space at the same time. We can’t choose our team, but we can choose to incorporate practices that will make it more cohesive.

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       EDITORIAL

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Adding that “Alpha” to Teams


diya and eid

I am pleased to share with you that Prerana articles are now being published by Information week in their online version. Information week is a global property of UBM plc, a global live media and B2B communications, marketing service and data provider. Information week is a strong brand in the technology space. Its readers are largely CIO's and senior IT folks. This has been possible because of the huge support and encouragement that you’ll have provided us in the last four years and more. Thank you!

‘Teams’ are here to stay and it is one topic that will never get outdated. In our current issue we specifically touch upon an important aspect of team effectiveness viz., Team Cohesion. And if you think team cohesion automatically happens once a team is formed then you are in for some good insights. And you will learn just like I did that only if you get the team cohesion right along with everything else that is required for a team’s effectiveness, will the team be successful. Merely being together at the workplace doesn’t necessarily guarantee a team will be cohesive, it simply means that a group of people are occupying the same space at the same time. We can’t choose our team, but we can choose to incorporate practices that will make it more cohesive. Some of these interesting practices are detailed in the Feature Article of this issue. In the Employee Speak section we bring to you some valuable tips on teams from a very learned man viz., Lt. General (Retired) Arjun Ray, PVSM, VSM, CEO, Indus Trust. While the Management Funda section covers the team development stages, the Basic Managerial Skills section discusses virtual teams and the challenges of managing them.

Before you start reading the articles of this issue I would like you to pause for a few minutes and reflect upon any one team you have worked with, your current team, perhaps even a team you have worked with in the past. Carry these thoughts with you when you are reading the articles and try to relate the ideas in these articles with your experiences with this team. This way you will enjoy reading these articles even more.

 
 

Prerana Team

Editing : Shifa Suresh; Content: Puja Talesara; Layout Design : CMO Axis

 
 

       FEATURE ARTICLE

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The secret ingredient for a Team’s success - Cohesion!


Several months back I had an interesting discussion with my friends Rajeev and Ganga. My friend Rajeev was not in his usual sunny mood. When I asked him what the matter was, he burst out “I don’t know what is ailing my current team. It is just not performing. I have done all the right things like defining common team goals to build the team". Ganga suggested “Perhaps there is a problem with your team’s cohesion.” “Team’s cohesion, what do you mean?” I asked. What she explained to us not only provided a possible solution to Rajeev’s problem but also got me thinking and reading and understanding more about Team Cohesion which I would like to share with you.


What is Team Cohesion?


Cohesion is the total field of forces which act on members to remain in a particular group.

"Team Cohesion is the degree to which team members are loyal, attached to each other, stay in the team and act as a unit. "

Members of cohesive teams sit closer together, focus more attention on one another, show signs of mutual affection, and display coordinated patterns of behavior. Members of cohesive teams are more likely to give due credit to their team members. The frequency of ‘we’ and ‘our’ statements vis-a-vis of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ statements is higher in cohesive teams. As cohesion in a team increases so does its productivity and the team members find the experience of working in the team increasingly rewarding. In certain cases cohesion can be even a matter of life and death. For example, breakdowns in team coordination, resource and informational exchanges, and role conflicts (i.e., common indicators of poor cohesion) were mentioned as contributors to both the Challenger and the Columbia space shuttle accidents.


Factors affecting Team Cohesion

There are several factors affecting team cohesion and I am listing down the key ones in the table below.


Factor

Explanation

Physical proximity

Teams that work together in a place tend to be more cohesive.

Similarity

The more similar the team members are in terms of age, sex, education, skills, attitudes, values, and beliefs, the more likely the team will be cohesive.

Stability

The longer a team stays together, the more cohesive it becomes.

Size

Smaller groups tend to have higher levels of cohesion.

Satisfaction

There is correlation of cohesion with how pleased group members are with one another’s performance, behavior, and conformity to group norms.

Distinctiveness

How distinct the team is from others in terms of routines and traditions, rules or practices, uniforms also impact cohesion.

Task commitment

If team members are more committed to the team goals, there will be better cohesion.

Leadership

When group members receive coaching and are encouraged to support their fellow team members, group identity strengthens and cohesion increases.


You remember the movie “The Social Network” which is based on the events that lead to the founding of “Facebook.” The story of its founders is a good example of what happens when there is break down in team cohesion. Founder Mark Zuckerberg and his friend, co-founder Eduardo Saverin agreed to launch the site and split up ownership of the new company equitably. In the process of developing the company, other individuals and interests come into play that were detrimental to the team cohesion developed by Mark and Eduardo eventually leading to multi-million dollar lawsuits and the end of the original founding team. Let’s look at what could have helped them retain their cohesion.


Enhancing and Retaining Team Cohesion


Here are some interesting ideas for improving a team’s cohesion that I have come across.

  1. Exchange fantasies: Before you jump to conclusions let me clarify; by fantasy I mean a story or a joke that contain or reveal emotion. Fantasies include events from a team member's past, or an event that may occur in the future. They do not include any communication that focuses on what is going on in the team. For example, Meena is a member of a marketing team and suggests an idea for product promotion. Meena is not expressing a fantasy; she is discussing the work at hand. However, when Meena reveals that she is getting engaged this week, several other team members recall how they had got engaged. Thus a fantasy chain reaction, a positive and energetic response to Meena’s statement has been created. The atmosphere in the work environment changed from serious to comfortable and perhaps even energetic. Once the fantasy chain reaction begins, common ground is established between team members and cohesion increases.
  2. Make the best of a crisis: As per the punctuated equilibrium theory teams remain fairly static, maintaining certain equilibrium for long periods. Change during these periods is incremental, largely due to the resistance to change that arises when systems and processes become institutionalized. Revolutionary change occurs in brief, punctuated bursts, generally catalyzed by a crisis or a problem. For teams who understand that disruption, conflict, and chaos are inevitable in the life of a team, these disruptions in the form of a crisis or a problem represent opportunities to become more cohesive and for innovation and creativity. For instance when customer complaints regarding recruitment increased, my team servicing that client became more united and used that opportunity to put processes in place to bring in efficiencies.
  3. Fight a common enemy: Remember the movie “Chak De” and the scene where a group of women hockey players defend their group when another group attacks them in a restaurant. The coach does not intervene and lets them fight. The beginning of cohesion for that team starts with that incident of fighting against a common enemy. This is the very same reason that an army battalion is very cohesive so much so that they are willing lay down their lives for each other. In an organization context the enemy can be the competitor in the market or could be a mindset in the organization that the team is trying to break. So the well known Pepsi vs. Coke war is not only manifested in their advertisements but the ingrained competitiveness also ensures that teams don’t use each other's product even after they leave the company.
  4. Guard against too much cohesion: Too much Cohesion in a team can be detrimental to the team. With cohesion comes the need to conform to the team norms and the desire to please one’s team mates. This may result in a member not expressing a conflicting view , the team discouraging new ideas or becoming closed to constructive feedback from people who do not belong to the team. In extreme cases, team members may start seeing outsiders as inferior or enemies. In such a scenario teams can easily adopt extreme ideas that will not be challenged, problems are ignored, failures are blamed on external factors and disastrous decisions are made. So it is important to be alert to such a possibility. A famous groupthink example is the invasion of Cuba to overthrow the entire Cuban government initiated by President John F. Kennedy and his cabinet in 1961. In a matter of days, Cuban forces repelled the invaders, resulting in many casualties and captured troops. The planning and approval were characterized by a belief that the insiders knew best and not paying heed to critics.
  5. Engage in non work activities: Engaging in some fun activities is sure to build cohesion. Teams work best when team members get to know each other outside of work. One gets to see a different aspect of one’s colleague and starts looking forward to these activities. This means one would like to continue being part of the group. So, next time your team is just not collaborating take them out for a dinner, a picnic, a trek or whatever be the interest of the group.
  6. Praise Team and not individual members: When an individual employee is singled out for praise team cohesion can breakdown. While it is essential to praise individuals, do that in private and in public focus on collective praise that can bring the team together to enjoy their success.
  7. Instill pride: Do you like your job, and are you proud of the work you do? If yes, how do you demonstrate that to your team? Your team will take its cue from you. People stay in their jobs when they are proud to work for the company and the team. Think of ways to continually foster that pride. An inspiring company vision or ambitious goal is a good way to do this. For instance a person working for Microsoft is sure to be proud of the company’s goal of "A computer on every desk and in every home”. Another way to do it is by making employees feel they are part of a special organization. At Walt Disney Company all new hires are required to complete a course where they learn the traditions and history of the company including the names of the seven dwarfs.
  8. Have an appropriate structure: A team is likely to be more cohesive when its structure favours cohesion. A good example is Harley Davidson Motor Company (HDMC) and its group structure. In its plant natural work groups (NWG) were organized to make decisions and build motorcycles. Within this group structure widespread access to information facilitates open communication which in turn leads to greater team cohesion. Cohesion is also furthered by the autonomy of workers within the group. There are no formal team leaders. Individual performance measures are not maintained. NWG’s performance is measured on achievement of plant goals and on the goals that they set for their group.

Conclusion

 

And if you are wondering what happened to Rajeev and his team’s performance. Well, Rajeev soaked in everything that Ganga had to share on team cohesion that day. He also applied the lessons he learnt on team cohesion on his team with a lot of sincerity. I know this not because he told me about it, but because we had another of our get-togethers last week and I overheard him tell somebody how his team has been nominated for the best team category in his company. If you ask me his team is bound to win and Rajeev if you are reading this… Congratulations in advance.

 

References

 

 
     
 

       Articles Of Interest For Business Leaders

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For HR Folks


Building Team Trust and Cohesiveness

As the HR team you not only have the responsibility of facilitating the performance of the team in your organization but also the responsibility of being a model team. Read these series of articles and find out how you can do that. They cover a variety of topics. They include topics like how teams need to be managed to help them succeed, making your team a real team and your good team a great team and the ill effects of too much team camaraderie and rewarding individuals.

Click here to read the article

 

For CEOs and Organization Leaders


The Myth of the Top Management Team

Frustrated at trying to form your top management into an effective team? You are not able to see any performance gains from getting your direct reports to work like a team? Yes, it can be frustrating and at times pointless too. But it is also true that when conditions are right, a team effort at the top is essential for extraordinary performance. Good leadership requires differentiating between team and non team opportunities and then acting accordingly. Know more by reading this HBR article.

Click here to read the article

 
     
 

       BOOK REVIEW

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Title: Destination Work! Getting people excited about coming to work and working hard
Author: Harry Paul and Ross Reck
Publication details: Westland Ltd, New Delhi, 2010
Number of pages: 117 pages

 

When I picked up this book ‘Destination Work!’ recently, its title sounded too good to be true. But after having read it and after having tried a couple of the tips given in the book, I can say that it works.


There is a way to get people excited about coming to work and even get people to say "Thank God it’s Monday!"

 

This book is a must read for Managers. And it takes up such real life issues that as a Manager you can relate to all these issues. This makes the book more relevant than other books on the same subject. It shows the transformation of a team overnight from one that routinely underachieves, fails to take initiatives, refuses to work together as a team, or intentionally sabotages the success of your organization. It narrates the story of Nancy Kim, a Human Resources Director at a magazine that is struggling with low productivity and morale. After she openly challenges the CEO’s new management-by-numbers system, she is given the responsibility of finding an alternate management system. And as the story unfolds so do the building blocks of creating Destination Work! A workplace where people are happy as well as productive!

 

The first building block is to focus on people as well as performance numbers. Managing employees strictly by the numbers makes employees feel that Managers don’t care about their well-being. “The job of a manager is to treat people in such a way that they become excited about applying all their discretionary effort toward their jobs.” The second building block is of bringing out the best in people by motivating with trust instead of fear. This, the authors of the book say can be achieved with the 4 Be’s viz., being real, being appreciative, being interested and being nice to people. “When you are regular person-open, honest, approachable, humble and respectful, people will respect you, work hard for you and will see that you are incredibly successful.” So the employees of a team in the story are genuinely happy to see their Manager since they know she is not coming to look over their shoulder or point out mistakes, but to lighten their load. The third building block is turning work into fun. An example given is that of safety briefing in a flight. It went something like this “..In the event this flight turns into a cruise, your life jacket is located in a plastic bag under your seat…This flight is a non-smoking flight, but once we reach our cruising altitude, we will open our smoking section which is out on the wing.”

 

While so far these building blocks are kind of known to most of us, I think what would come as surprise would be the fourth building block of senior management executing ‘Destination Work!’ with front line employees. This means senior management should regularly circulate among front line employees while executing the 4 Be’s and jump into trenches on a regular basis and work alongside front line employees to show that they respect and care about them. In the story the CEO of Nancy’s company stopped by everyday at this department that Nancy was implementing the ‘Destination Work!’ ideas. “When he was there he always smiled, had something positive to say to everyone he talked. When others talked, he listed and never missed an opportunity to pat someone on the back or thank them for something.”

 

The book demonstrates effectively these building blocks through the story of how a low performing department is transformed into the highest performing department in just 6 weeks time. The book is filled with useful definitions. So happy employees are employees “who smile more, have more fun, work harder, work better with fellow employees, are more loyal and love their boss”. And “Effective leaders are those who are interested in the flock-the people they’re leading. They see their role as that of a giver- to get behind their people and support them in ways that bring out their best.” Each chapter of the book ends with a summary of nuggets thus reinforcing the key ideas in each chapter. The book also throws in many interesting facts and figures to support these ideas. For instance it talks about a research reported in Havard Business Review study on how the excitement of joining a company declines for employees over a period of time because Managers do not take the time to thank them for a job well done, while they are quick to criticize them for their mistakes.

 

The entire book is a very quick and interesting read; I am talking here about finishing the book in a matter of hours rather than days. Now, I am simply dying to try out the rest of the stuff in the book. What about you?

 
 
     
 

       ACTIVITY CORNER

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Identify your Team’s Development Stage

 

This questionnaire contains statements about teamwork. Next to each statement, indicate how often your team displays each behavior by using the following scoring system:


1

  Almost never

2

  Seldom

3

  Occasionally

4

  Frequently

5

  Almost always


Sr. No.

Statements

1

2

3

4

5

1.

We try to have set procedures or protocols to ensure that things are orderly and run smoothly (e.g. minimize interruptions, everyone gets the opportunity to have their say).

1

2

3

4

5

2.

We are quick to get on with the task on hand and do not spend too much time in the planning stage.

1

2

3

4

5

3.

Our team feels that we are all in it together and shares responsibilities for the team's success or failure.

1

2

3

4

5

4.

We have thorough procedures for agreeing on our objectives and planning the way we will perform our tasks.

1

2

3

4

5

5.

Team members are afraid or do not like to ask others for help.

1

2

3

4

5

6.

We take our team's goals and objectives literally, and assume a shared understanding.

1

2

3

4

5

7.

The team leader tries to keep order and contributes to the task at hand.

1

2

3

4

5

8.

We do not have fixed procedures; we make them up as the task or project progresses.

1

2

3

4

5

9.

We generate lots of ideas, but we do not use many because we fail to listen to them and reject them without fully understanding them.

1

2

3

4

5

10.

Team members do not fully trust the other team members and closely monitor others who are working on a specific task.

1

2

3

4

5

11.

We enjoy working together; we have a fun and productive time.

1

2

3

4

5

12.

The team leader ensures that we follow the procedures, do not argue, do not interrupt, and keep to the point.

1

2

3

4

5

13.

We have accepted each other as members of the team.

1

2

3

4

5

14.

The team leader is democratic and collaborative.

1

2

3

4

5

15.

We are trying to define the goal and what tasks need to be accomplished.

1

2

3

4

5

16.

Many of the team members have their own ideas about the process and personal agendas are rampant.

1

2

3

4

5

17.

We fully accept each other's strengths and weakness.

1

2

3

4

5

18.

We assign specific roles to team members (team leader, facilitator, time keeper, note taker, etc.).

1

2

3

4

5

19.

We try to achieve harmony by avoiding conflict.

1

2

3

4

5

20.

The tasks are very different from what we imagined and seem very difficult to accomplish.

1

2

3

4

5

21.

There are many abstract discussions of the concepts and issues, which make some members impatient with these discussions.

1

2

3

4

5

22.

We are able to work through group problems.

1

2

3

4

5

23.

We argue a lot even though we agree on the real issues.

1

2

3

4

5

24.

The team is often tempted to go above the original scope of the project.

1

2

3

4

5

25.

We express criticism of others constructively

1

2

3

4

5

26.

There is a close attachment to the team.

1

2

3

4

5

27.

It seems as if little is being accomplished with the project's goals.

1

2

3

4

5

28.

The goals we have established seem unrealistic.

1

2

3

4

5

29.

Although we are not fully sure of the project's goals and issues, we are excited and proud to be on the team.

1

2

3

4

5

30.

We often share personal problems with each other.

1

2

3

4

5

31.

There is a lot of resisting of the tasks on hand and quality improvement approaches.

1

2

3

4

5

32.

We get a lot of work done.

1

2

3

4

5


 

Click here for scoring direction.

 
     
 

       EMPLOYEE SPEAK

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   Name: Lt. General (Retired) Arjun Ray, PVSM, VSM, Chief Executive, www.generalarjunray.com
   Company: Indus Trust, www.indusschool.com

 

Gen.Arjun Ray

“Greater energy and greater passion is more extraordinary than greater genius.”

- Lt. General (Retired) Arjun Ray, PVSM, VSM, Chief Executive, Indus Trust


About Lt. General (Retired) Arjun Ray

 

Lt. General Arjun Ray is a graduate from the prestigious Staff College at Camberlay, UK, and served as the country's Deputy Military Advisor in London. In his last assignment, he commanded the newly raised 14 Corps in Ladakh. His success in forestalling insurgency in the region by winning over alienated communities into the nation's mainstream has been nationally and internationally acclaimed. As part of Operation Sadbhavana (Goodwill), he set up 13 Sadbhavana schools, 11 Women's Empowerment Centres, and 60 Adult Education Centres for non-literate women along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. At his personal initiative, 125 Ladakhi girls received free education and pastoral care in Bangalore colleges.In recognition of his services in nation-building, he was awarded the Param Vashist Seva Medal, the highest award in the armed forces for distinguished service. His success story in change leadership has been selected as a case study for business and management schools in India.

 

In his second calling – international school education – he has set up three International Baccalaureate Schools, the Leadership School, and the world’s first Equal Opportunity School for children living below the poverty line. The latter is in sync with his belief that schools must have a social objective; they cannot just be centres of academic excellence. IB World has recently acclaimed the General as one of the six IB World School Leaders on rethinking education, especially by making high quality education affordable to the poor.

  1. Do tell us a little about building and motivating teams from your experience of leading battalions when you were serving with Indian army and today when you are leading teams of teachers at Indus.

    I strongly subscribe to a ‘Strengths based Team Leadership’. Normally there is a tendency to focus on weaknesses of individuals. Research conducted over the last 35 years by leading research organisations like Gallup show that it is the ‘Strengths of Individuals’ and not just ‘People’ who are the assets of an organisation. Thus teams have to be built on individual strengths. We should address weakness only if it is getting in the way of achieving goals.


  2. How would you define a cohesive team? What are the elements of team cohesion?

    There are 4 elements of a cohesive team. They are

    1. Strategic Vision and Future planning
    2. Execution
    3. Relationship Building with stakeholders
    4. Influencing

    When you select a team which can do all these, the team will be cohesive. Every leader should review periodically to see whether I have all these skills in my team. Normally an ideal combination of idea and action man is not found. I may have brilliant ideas, but they need to be executed. One person need not have just one skill, even two to three people can have them. If you get the team equation right, then the team cohesion will automatically will follow.


  3. In what way is team cohesion important to the performance of a team?

    To achieve common goals, cohesion of teams is important.


  4. How can a leader build his/her team’s cohesion?

    There are four things he/she should ensure to build his/her team cohesion.

    1. Common and specific team goals - Most goals that I have come across are vague. Goals have to be specific. How can you hit the goal post unless you know that is what you are aiming at? Team should be motivated around common specific goal. Teams get motivated when they know their goals are being achieved.
    2. Vision - Most leaders do not share why we have selected a goal, the vision behind it and they do not make the team understand the goal better.
    3. Inspirational leadership - This is part gift and part acquired talent. ‘I want to look young and handsome’ is a more inspiring goal than ‘I want to lose 10 kgs’ goal. Inspiration comes when you appeal to a higher emotion.
    4. Core purpose - Jim Collins calls it the central idea. There has to be something which identifies you. When you say Volvo one thinks of security and safety, when you say Anna one thinks of truth and simplicity. This is the signature strength which is unique to you. It is something like a brand identity. 90% of people are not aware of their signature strengths. It’s that one word that sums you up. Teams should have their core purpose defined and articulated.


  5. In your experience what are the threats to the cohesion of a team that one needs to watch out for?

    The absence of any of the four elements that I mentioned can cause the team to disintegrate. A team of average people who are motivated can achieve much higher than a team of above average people who are not motivated. This debunks the McKinsey talent theory that states that you bring together brilliant people and the company is bound to succeed. At Enron there were people from leading Business Schools like Harvard and yet Enron failed. That brings me to another threat which can cause a team to lose its cohesiveness. Lack of ethical values in the team! When you enter into unethical practices, there is bound to be a team break down. For long term sustainability it is important to be ethical.


  6. What are some practices that are prevalent in the army that contributes to building and sustaining team cohesion? According to you can some of these practices be implemented in the corporate sector?

    In the army soldiers are motivated around the regimental flag. They identify with their unit. They die for their buddy and team. By giving us a team goal, by making us identify with team achievements (100 years back our regiment did this...) we start believing that we are really brave. We live together, eat together, and die together. A young man kidnapped by terrorist also starts identifying with the terrorists because of the very same reasons. Victories are celebrated and we are honoured for our brave feats.

    Yes, these practices can be adopted in other sectors. At Indus we lay a lot of emphasis on goals. For example by the age of 3 our students should be able to tie shoe laces. All kids are mentored. There is appreciation provided for good work. A sense of belonging is created. We celebrate achievements.


  7. What are some practices that you have institutionalized at Indus to build and sustain team cohesion?

    Apart from the practices I have mentioned earlier the culture also contributes to team cohesion. Even though the Indus group is only 8 years old we have built an Indus culture. There is a way we do things at Indus-the way we walk, talk.... There are rituals like holding the assembly in our own unique way. We do extensive community service. For instance we have set up a school for the underprivileged. To be great we need to be different.

 
     
 

       QUOTE

 
     
 

"Whatever comes through those gates we stand a better chance if we stick together."

- Maximus

 
     
 

       MANAGEMENT FUNDA

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Team Development Stages


In today’s fast paced and competitive business scenario, effective teamwork is the key to accomplishing something extraordinary! But as you'll know from the teams you have led or belonged to, you can't expect a new team to perform exceptionally well from the very outset. Team formation takes time, and usually travels through various stages, as the team journeys from being a group of strangers to becoming a united team with a common vision. Whether your team is a temporary working group or a newly-formed team or a permanent team, it’s vital for you as the leader, manager and team member to understand the Team Development Stages.


What are these Team Development Stages?


The four Team Development Stages are:

  1. Forming: It’s the stage where team members are introduced to each other and the purpose and objectives of the team formation are explained to them. This stage is often referred as the testing stage as; it is “a stage of transition from individual to member status, and of testing the leader's guidance both formally and informally”.
  2. Storming: The team's transition from the "As-Is" to the "To-Be" is called the Storming stage. Clarity about the tasks emerge; members argue and try to put forth ideas based on their professional and personal experience. Team members get impatient as things may take a while to get started. This stage is characterized by disunity, resistance, tension and jealousy. This is the most difficult stage in the Team development stages and is a period characterized by conflict and low trust among team members.
  3. Norming: This stage is when the team reaches a consensus on the "To-Be" process. The roles, ground rules, operating style of the team have been established. The team members are comfortable with each other. Team members at this stage often bond socially.
  4. Performing: At this stage, the team members have settled in, have learned their roles and are focused on performance and delivery. The Team emerges as cohesive and performing unit. The emotional stability within the team is achieved. This stage is characterized by a high degree of trust.

Each stage has its unique challenges. The dynamics within the team and operating style of leaders change as per the stage. This is illustrated in the following two figures.

 


Figure 2: Team Dynamics and Operating Style

Stage

Forming

Storming

Norming

Performing

Trust within Team Members

Very low

Low

High

Very High

Confrontation with Team Members

Avoid

High

Constructive Criticism, Collaborative stage

Absent

Commitment within Team Members

Very low

Low

High

Very High

Behavior of the Team Members

Desire to be accepted -Seek  information about team members

Emotional Rollercoaster - Ideas compete for consideration

Acceptance and Inclusion of other Team members

Unified feeling - shared team goals and vision

Communication style

Guarded - Default to leaders’ opinion

Vocal - May get ‘personal’ / subjective, give
‘Off-line feedback’

Honest, candid for the most part - Members begin to voice differing ideas with comfort. May refer to leader when conflict arises

Honest, candid-Members comfortably debate ideas,         alternatives, face conflicts ‘head on’ and objectively

Leadership style

Telling - Direct the team, detail the team objectives and goals

Selling - Establish and initiate the process,
coach, facilitate the team in resolving conflicts

Participating -Encourage and guide team members to shoulder responsibilities

Delegating (Laissez Fare)-  Team members don’t need to be assisted or instructed 

 

As trust within the team increases team dynamics change. In the forming stage the team members are yet to get acquainted with each other, the members are unknown, hence trust is also unknown. Team members in this stage often hold back and are not willing to share knowledge. Members are not acquainted about each other’s strength and rich experience and knowledge each one has. So at this stage the knowledge is hidden. In the storming stage members compete for ideas, authority is required to emerge; hence this stage is characterized with knowledge hoarding. When the team becomes a cohesive unit, members are willing to share knowledge and finally the team creates what they had got together for in the first place. There is knowledge creation as the team is able to achieve its objective. An individual joining a new organization or new function, new department would also experience these stages. The conflict wouldn’t be that intense and trust would be established relatively in less time as compared to a new project team. Other team members would travel through these stages vis-a-vis this team member.

 

How did this theory of Team Development Stages originate?


Team Development Stages was conceived by psychologist Bruce Tuckman in 1965 while he was working with a team of social psychologists, on behalf of the U.S. navy. Tuckman noticed that there were two features common to small groups viz., the Interpersonal or Group Structure and the Task Activity. From this he determined that groups evolved into teams via four common stages. Tuckman coined the oft-quoted terms: "forming", "storming", "norming" and "performing for these four stages. Later, in 1977 Tuckman jointly with Mary Ann Jenson added a fifth stage called "adjourning" (what others often call as "mourning" – it rhymes better!). Adjourning is the last stage of the Team Development when the team accomplishes its objective and is in the process of getting disbanded.


Conclusion


While being part of a high-performing team can be fun, it can take patience and professionalism to get to that stage. The obvious benefit of understanding the team development stages is that it helps you understand how Teams evolve and make sound decisions. The other benefit is that it helps you encounter different problems at different team development stages effectively. Effective team leaders can accelerate the process and reduce the difficulties that team members experience by understanding what they need to do as their team travels/moves through the stages from Forming to Storming, Norming and finally, Performing. So go ahead and use your understanding of the team development stages to help your team perform effectively, quickly!


References

 

 
     
 

       BASIC MANAGERIAL SKILLS

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Managing Virtual Teams


Do you remember as a child playing the game of drawing the monkey’s tail blind folded? Well, managing virtual teams is something like that. Trying to get results with a group of people you might never have met in person! Teams that have team members working in different locations or on different floors in the same office or even those divided into office and telecommuting employees are referred to as ‘virtual teams’. While they are like any other team with real team members who work together to achieve a common goal, they do not have face-to-face communication and interaction. Does this dispersion affect team performance? It does, but dispersion has the advantage of drawing upon the diversity and varied expertise of team members. Research also shows that virtual teams can outperform their colocated counterparts when they are set up and managed in the right way.

 

Tips for effective management of Virtual Teams

  1. Select the right team members: When a group is colocated, it is easier for the leader to detect any teamwork deficiency and address it. This is not the case with virtual teams. Virtual team members need to be more self-sufficient in how they manage their own work because the team leader is less in a position to help. This means some people are more suited for a virtual team set up i.e., people with a certain degree of maturity in terms of work habits and ability to work independently and who do not have to be micromanaged. Also virtual teams are more dependent on their ability to perform key team processes such as mutual support, communication and coordination. Hence team members should possess these teamwork skills to a great extent.

  2. Create Team identity: Virtual team members do not see their team-members and are not seen as a team by their other colleagues. So getting team members to identify themselves with the team and to get others to see them as a team is important. Create a team name with a team slogan. Ensure that the team’s opinions are voiced in the organisation and that the team receives due recognition for its contributions.

  3. Establish ground rules at the very start: What are the working hours of different team members? What will be the methods of communication? What is the expectation for communication turnaround time? What will be the frequency of meetings? These are some rules worth establishing at the start of working together as a virtual team.

  4. Ensure availability of right technology: Today technology makes it possible for people from different parts of the world to communicate and interact very effectively and more frequently. There is email, instant messenger, audio conferencing, video conferencing, collaborative software and shared directories.

  5. Focus on task related processes: Teams with a high level of task-related processes such as those that help coordinate work and ensure that each member is contributing fully outperform teams with a low level. So a focus on task processes can minimise the loss in performance on account of geographical distance. For instance, make sure that you define a clear agenda and purpose for team meetings so that these meetings are productive.

  6. Provide face to face meetings and socializing opportunities: It is essential to encourage informal communication, team identification and cohesion. You don’t want your team member to be just a voice or an email id. Get everyone together in a face to face setting during the project kickoff and allow for some time before and after it for some informal interactions. Since you can’t get coffee together or gossip while having lunch you need to create other opportunities for team members to know each other personally even after the project kick off. Getting to know someone goes a long way in building trust, cooperation, and commitment. Meet up for lunch once a month. Encourage the use of instant messaging to ask each other how the weekend was or share about the book that they read recently. Set up a website to share pictures and personal information.

  7. Communicate regularly and in different ways: Be proactive in your communications to make sure everyone feels included and has clarity of the task at hand. Hold regular team meetings so that team members feel connected to each other. Do not get into the trap of just sending emails. Pick up the phone and talk to your team members. In a conversation you can confirm understanding and clarify points.

  8. Be sensitive to cultural and time differences: If you are one of those managers having to manage a team comprising of team members from different countries then appreciation for the differences in how people work and how they behave is a must. Also your convenient time may not always be a convenient time for all the team members. If you cannot work out a convenient time for all, then keep changing the meeting timing so that the same team members are not inconvenienced always.

  9. Look for ways to engage team members: Show them how they are contributing to the company’s goals. Even if they are not present in the company premises they should feel connected to the company. So tell them about developments in the company and office. What are the new projects expected? Who is getting married next? Try to pick up small signals that tell you whether your team member is still engaged. Listen for silence in telephone conversations, changes in tone, in style and length of emails. Have regular one-on-one conversations with team members to help them express their real concerns and needs which they may not do so in a team meeting.

 

 
     
 

       THE HR PRACTICE BUZZ

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In the recent few months we have been expanding our footprint - both geographically and in terms of our Service offerings. We started work with our first Client in Delhi - a very interesting engagement where we are anchoring the integration and HR operations of a North American company which has just acquired an Indian company. With this engagement, we make our formal entry into the NCR region and look forward to engaging more with the Delhi market. Virtually everywhere, Anchored out of Bangalore and Mumbai rings true!

The Service offering we have added is C Search - enabling the hiring of C level and critical talent for our Client partners. Our first few engagements are successfully behind us - hiring of the Management team for a Product company, Online Head for a Media company and Social Media Practice Head for an Analytics company. This strengthens our partnership with our Clients even further- we are now able to support them in Talent Management, Talent Development and Talent Acquisition. Leadership development is the next frontier we are looking to cross - will keep you posted on it!

 
     
 

       SOLUTIONS TO ACTIVITY CORNER

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Scoring direction to “Identify your Team’s Development Stage”

In the below table, write the score that you have given each statement. For example, if you scored statement one a ‘3 (Occasionally)’, then enter a ‘3’ next to statement one. When you have entered the score for all statements, total each of the four columns.

 
 

Statement Score

Statement Score

Statement Score

Statement Score

1. _______

2. _______

4. _______

3. _______

5. _______

7. _______

6. _______

8. _______

10. _______

9. _______

11. _______

12. _______

15. _______

16. _______

13. _______

14. _______

18. _______

20. _______

19. _______

17. _______

21. _______

23. _______

24. _______

22. _______

27. _______

28. _______

25. _______

26. _______

29. _______

31. _______

30. _______

32. _______

Forming Stage TOTAL _____

Storming Stage TOTAL _____

Norming Stage TOTAL _____

Performing Stage
TOTAL _____

 
 

Interpretation


This questionnaire is to help you assess what stage your team normally operates in. It is based on the Tuckman Model of Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.

The lowest score possible for a stage is 8 (Almost never) while the highest score possible for a stage is 40 (Almost always). The highest of the four scores indicates which stage you perceive your team to normally operate in. If your highest score is 32 or more, it is a strong indicator of the stage your team is in. The lowest of the four scores is an indicator of the stage your team is least likely to be in. If the lowest score is 16 or less, it is a strong indicator that your team does not operate this way. If two of the scores are close to the same, you are probably going through a transition phase, except:

  • If you score high in both the Forming and Storming Stages then you are in the Storming Stage.
  • If you score high in both the Norming and Performing Stages then you are in the Performing Stage.

Source: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/teamsuv.html


 
 

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