Team Work

Hello everybody and welcome to our wiki !

This first wiki is about the importance of effective team work. In order to succeed in the best way possible, team-work should be created with attention, and the members should be surrounded by complementary team-mates.

In this wiki we are going to see :

1/ Different definitions of a team

There are many different definitions of a team.

For example: in a dictionary you can find that a team is:
  • a group of people organized to work together
  • (General Sporting Terms) a group of players forming one of the sides in a sporting contest
  • two or more animals working together to pull a vehicle or agricultural implement

But the most popular is the definition of Katzenbach and Smith (1993) : "A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable."

A very similar definition is the definition of Kyle Lewis-McClear, (1998), which says that "A group in which members work together intensively to achieve a common group goal."

Next is: “A team is any group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to meet the needs of their customers by accomplishing a purpose and goals. Teams are created for both long term and short term interaction. A product development team, an executive leadership team, and a departmental team are long lasting planning and operational groups. Short term teams might include a team to develop an employee on boarding process, a team to plan the annual company party, or a team to respond to a specific customer problem or complaint.”


2/ Creating a team

2.1 Twelve tips to build a team

  • Clear Expectations: The team members need to understand why the team has been created and what their leader expect from them.
  • Context: The team members need to understand why we have chosen them to participate on the team, but also to understand what their work can bring to the whole project.
  • Commitment: It is a need that team members want to work on the team. So, they need to feel the project important.
  • Competence: The team members need to feel that there is the competence require in the team to fill in the project. If not, they need to know how and where to find what they need.
  • Charter: The team members have to take their assigned area of responsibility and designed its own mission, vision and strategies to do the mission.
  • Control: Team members need to have enough freedom and power to do its charter.
  • Collaboration: Team members need to understand the team and the group process, the stages of development. They also need to understand the role of the other members and what they bring to the project.
  • Communication: Team members need to communicate clearly and honestly in the team. Therefore, they need to be clear about what is the priority in their work.
  • Creative Innovation: The organization has to think about changing or not, to reward people taking risks to make improvements or to reward people who fit in. It also has to give to the members the access to books, films or trips which would stimulate new ideas.
  • Consequences: In order to motivate the team members, there is a need of rewards when the team accomplishes something successful. But also, team members need to see the consequences of their effort to make the project improved.
  • Coordination: A team needs to be leaded, to know the next process (people who it provide product/service) and to work together with other departments, so that it need to know other works.
  • Cultural Change: The organization has to recognize that the team-based, collaborative, empowering, enabling organizational culture of the future is different than the traditional, hierarchical organization it may currently be. The organization has to be aware that the more it will change the climate of the team in order to help it, the more the team will help it.

2.2 Pure Teams (According to Belbin)

Belbin has observed many different teams in different situations, and he tried to put together people with the same results to his tests. Four personalities were observed and used: stable/anxious and extrovert/introvert. The following schema shows the results.


2.3 Team size

According to author Stephen Robbins, when teams have more than 10-12 people, the team finds constructive interaction difficult. His advice to managers is to keep the team size to under a dozen.

According to Belbin,- The bigger the group is, the greater the pressure towards conformity.- Teams of 10 worked for the Romans, but not for business.- Teams have an optimum size. All in all, teams should be between 5 and 9 people. Below 5, there is lack of resources, skills, acknowledges, teams are unstable. Above 9, there is not enough individual attention. But teams could work above 25 because it is possible to make different sub-teams of 5-9.

2.4 Unsuccessful teams

After observing many different kinds of teams in different "game", Belbin has observed that:
  • Unsuccessful teams were mainly characterized by an over-emphasis on a particular ability or Team Role
  • Teams were not successful when individuals took on a role that was not suited to their personalities.
  • Teams were unsuccessful where key roles were required but never filled.

2.5 Winning Teams

In the same way,

  • Winning companies possessed good Team Role balance.
  • Compensating for lack of balance can have a favourable effect on a team's prospects.
  • Awareness of Team Roles helps to improve companies' performance.

In fact, the best team is not the one which gathers all the best elements. In fact if you do it you will not necessary succeed because people in the team could argue and debate a too long time on useless points just in order to make their point. Belbin has observed it and called it the Apollo Syndrom.

3/ Team work

3.1 History

The history of the word goes back to the 1700's. The first industrial machines were developed then. The employees used the machines and their job description was very limited. In the 1950's people begun to understand that quality of the products is the most important part of a successful company, not only efficiency. Based to that an american quality specialist came up with a few visions on how to achieve great quality. In the companies this led to small working groups (Vakkuri 1997, 10- 12).

3.2 Team work in general

The word team work is often used. You can see many companies using this word in their job advertisements where they want you to join their team. But team work is a way of doing work, not a word to describe your work environment. The basic of team work is to think about your own work. How you can control it and how you can get better results.The members of the team need to have ideas so they achieve better results and new ways to do things (Vakkuri 1997, 8).

Team work is about doing work together to develop new ways to work and new ideas. The strength of the team is that all the members personalities come up. Every team member has their own ideas and the ideas might be something the others haven't even thought about.

3.3 The difference between team work and group work

But how does team work differ from group work? You can think that group work is a pre-stage of team work. When you work in a team the most important part is that all of your abilities are being used. When you are working in a group you are an expert in some area of knowledge. All the group members are experts and the intention is to come up with a solution to a certain problem. After the solution the group members went back to their own routines and work. The team is a long term arrangement (Vakkuri 1997, 14-15).


4/ Different team roles

4.1 What is a team role ?

According to Belbin a team role “describes a pattern of behavior characteristic of the way in which one team member interacts with another where his performance serves to facilitate the progress of the team as a whole.”

4.2 Who is Belbin ?

Meredith Belbin was born in 1926. He graduated in Classics and Psychology in Cambridge. He worked as a management consultant in a wide range of industries. Later, he returned to Cambridge to become Chairman of the Industrial Training Research Unit.


As an author he wrote many books:

  • Management Teams: Why They Succeed Or Fail (1981)
  • The Job Promoters (1990)
  • Team Roles At Work (1993)
  • The Coming Shape Of Organization (1996)
  • Changing The Way We Work (1997)
  • Beyond the Team (2000)
  • Managing without Power (2001).

4.3 What is Belbin’s Team-Role theory ?

After many years of studies, Belbin discovered nine types of contribution (called Team Roles) that were essential to the success of a team. Each of these Team Roles were associated to particular types of personality. They were measured by the tests (researches and observations of different managers) used in the experiments and showed that the strongest teams were the teams that had a diversity of characters and personality types.

=> This theory has become one of the most accessible and widely used tools to support team building.

The nine team roles are:


As a team Role;
  • The Shaper shapes the way in which team effort is applied; directs attention generally to the setting of objectives and priorities; and seeks to impose some shape or pattern on group discussion and on the outcome of group activities.
  • The Implementer (Used to be called Company Worker) turns concepts and plans into practical working procedures; and carrys out agreed plans systematically and efficiently.
  • The Completer–Finisher ensures that the team is protected as far as possible from mistakes of both commission and omission; actively searches for aspects of work which need a more than usual degree of attention; and maintains a sense of urgency within the team.
  • The Co-ordinator (Used to be called Chairman) controlles the way in which a team moves towards the group objectives by making the best use of team resources; recognizes where the team’s strengths and weaknesses lie; and ensures that the best use is made of each team member’s potential.
  • The Team Worker supportes members in their strengths (e.g. building on suggestions); underpins members in their shortcomings; improves communications between members and fosters team spirit generally.
  • The Resource Investigator explores and reports on ideas, developments and resources outside the group; creats external contacts that may be useful to the team and conducts any subsequent negotiations.
  • The Plant advances new ideas and strategies with special attention to major issues; and looks for possible breaks in approach to the problems with which the group is confronted.
  • The Monitor Evaluator analyses problems; and evaluates ideas and suggestions so that the team is better placed to take balanced decisions.
  • The Specialist is someone who supplies knowledge and skills in rare supply and who prefers to contribute on that limited front.

4.4 Why are team roles so important ?

Team roles are very important so that the work process is more fruitful, creative and effective. Nowadays, winning companies have introduced a good Team Role balance. Indeed, the success of a team-work is a question of balance. What a team needs is not well-balanced people but people who balance well together. The useful people to have in a team are those who possess strengths or characteristics that will serve a need that the others of the team don’t already have.

On the contrary, teams that are mainly characterized by a single ability or team role will be unsuccessful teams.
To sum up, team roles are important because they allow lot’s of lonely imperfect people to form an effective team together.

As Belbin says “Nobody's perfect, but a team can be !


5/ The stages of group development

Teams go through different stages of development, which often include times of tension and conflict, before the team settles down to its peculiar style of working together”

(Leading Teams: Pocket Mentor. 2006. Harvard business school press)

Groups develop across time very much like people do. Research has found that groups also experience periods of dependency, conflict, trust and structuring, work, and disengagement. Group develop and human develop have much in common.

5.1 Stage 1: Dependency and inclusion

The first stage is characterized by members’ dependency on leader or powerful member. Members are more likely to be charged into some work than coming with new ideas, opinions and decisions. They talks mainly in polite way and exchanges stories about their costumers and families, topics are just different then job filling. Members seem more concerned with being accepted by others than with the task at hand. They are unlikely to express different points of view as a result.

Some points of first stage:

  • Members are concerned with personal safety in the group
  • Members express a need for dependable and directive leadership
  • The leader is very rarely challenged by the members
  • The group’s goals are not clear to its members, but members don’t try to clarify them
  • Conflict is minimal

“You know you’re in a Stage 1 group when the leader asks a question and no one responds. The leader’s words seem to vanish into the Bermuda triangle.”

5.2 Stage 2: Counterdependency and fight

Members start to feel less dependency and fight among themselves. The group’s task in this stage is to unify the set of goals, values, and processes and that always brings conflicts. Conflict is necessary for building trust and making members feel free to disagree with each other.
This conflict can have positive effect on group same as negative one. It depends on how can members unify their point of view on group’s tasks.

Some points of second stage:

  • Conflicts about values emerge
  • Members challenge the leader and each other
  • Increased member participation is evident
  • Conflict resolution, if successful, increases trust and cohesion

“You know you’re in a Stage 2 group when the thought of going to a team meeting makes you feel ill”

5.3 Stage 3: Trust and structure

Communication becomes more open and task oriented, cooperation between members is better. This third stage of group development is characterized by more mature negotiations about roles, organization, and procedures.

Some points of third stage:

  • Increased goal clarity and consensus are evident
  • The leader’s role becomes less directive and more consultative
  • Helpful deviation is tolerated
  • Cohesion and trust increase
  • Cooperation is more evident

“You know you’re in a Stage 3 group when the group member who drove you crazy for weeks begins to make you smile.”

5.4. Stage 4: Work

Finally effective and productive work comes and results are obvious. At this stage the group becomes a high performance team. And the team can focus more on goal achievement and task accomplishment.

Some points of fourth stage:

  • Members are clear about team’s goals and agree with them
  • Members are clear with their roles
  • The team gets, gives, and utilizes feedback about effectiveness and productivity
  • Voluntary conformity is high
  • Tasks contain variety and challenge

“You know you’re in Stage 4 group when you can’t wait to get to the team meeting because it’s exhilarating, fun, important, and makes you feel like a grown-up."

Learn about group development, be patient, expect conflicts and treat them, make compromises, don’t sit on the sidelines and be supportive. I you can handle it you can make very effective, productive and easy-going team and other members become friends of yours.


6/ Different types of teams

A team comprises a group of people linked in a common purpose. Teams are specially appropiate for conducing tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent subtasks.
A group in itself does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams normally have members with complimentary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize his or her strengths and minimize his or her weaknesses.
Teams member need to learn how to help one another, help other team members realize their true potential, and create an enviroment that allows everyone to go beyond their limitations.

One of the characteristic of organizations is the variety of groups that coexist in its bosom, whose composition, functions and other properties differ significantly. It may take into account different criteria to rank the same. The most common (without an exclusionary) are:
- According to a time criterion: It deals with the stability of relacionships.
  • PERMANENT GROUPS, are seen as stable over time and take care of the routine tasks of operating and maintaining the organization.The temporary stay of these groups does not prevent any changes in its composition.
  • TEMPORARY GROUPS, are designed to perform tasks, projects or activities of a temporary nature. The group is limited in time, dissolve once their function.
  • FORMAL GROUPS, group is defined and planned to obtain organizational goals. All, regardless of other criteria, they share a formal character.
  • INFORMAL GROUPS, arising from spontaneous relationships between members of the organization and are aimed at satissfying personal and social needs of their constituents. Groups that are constituted by ties of frienship or attraction, groups of people who share the same problem.

- According to his criterion of purpose: It has to do with the objectives of the groups.
  • PRODUCTION, groups whose members jointly perform a specific job. Form work teams, departments and units of the organization.
  • TROUBLE SHOOTING, focus on specific problems of the company. For example, quality circles or study groups for the project.
  • CONFLICT RESOLUTION, designed to address situations of confrontation between different parts of the organization or outside it with. This is essentially negotiating groups.
  • ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT, including different groups and group techniques. Among other things, training groups, team building or advocacy groups.

- According to a hierarchical approach: it has to do with the location in the organizational structure.
  • VERTICAL DIFFERENTIATION, composed by various groups ranging from senior management, through middle management groups to non-management groups
  • HORIZONTAL DIFFERENTIATION, mainly includes various fuctional groups, groups that provide specialized services based on particular skills, and temporary committees, created with different missions, mainly advisory and decision making.

- Depending on the structure.
  • GROUPS ACTIVITY, groups with independent tasks, goals and incentives group, stable relationships.
  • INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITY, the group as a context diminated activity and individual values. Members just have a link to each other to share a space, a task, a professional specialty or be unders the orders of the same boss


7/ References

7.1 Books

  • Belbin. 1981. Management Teams - Why they succeed or fail
  • Belbin. 1993. Team Roles at Work
  • Leading Teams: Pocket Mentor. 2006. Harvard business school press
  • Vakkuri, A. 1997. Tiimityö- Käytännön opas. Helsinki: Hakapaino oy
  • Wheelan, S A. 2005. Creating effective teams : a guide for members and leaders

7.2 Websites