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High Performance Teams

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High Performance Teams

Whether through sports, business, or family, nearly everyone has at one time or another has been part of a team. Teams are every where and if one plans on succeeding in business in today’s workforce, they need to get used to it as it appears that teams are here to stay. Not every team though is productive. Very often teams end up performing poorly or result in internal conflict that gets out oh hand to the point that nothing gets done. Organizations both small and large recognize the benefits of good teamwork. In fact, the amount of money spent on education related to learn how to perform well as a team has likely never been higher. It takes a special group of individuals in a unique environment to work well enough together to be considered a high performance team.

Generally, high performance teams are created with a specific mission or purpose in mind (Argyris, 1965).These groups are empowered to make decisions and establish their objectives while remaining focused on the task. It is important to understand that each member of a high performance team has to be motivated, responsible, innovative, and responsive in order for the team to operate well (Argyris, 1965). Each member of the team needs to have a clear vision of the team’s goals. The teams goals also need to align with the personal goals of the members as well as the goals of the organization. The group both as a whole and individually need to have a shared understanding of each team members' roles. High performance teams tend to work on challenging tasks, therefore individual accountability and equality in workload must be a priority of every team member.

Typically in America, individual achievement is the goal of many. In reality though, supervisors must depend on the cooperation and efforts from their employees (Niemela, 2001). After all, without group support, the chance of achieving the goal is slim. It appears that the best chance for winning group support is to let the forces within the group itself work toward a decision with minimum interference from the supervisor. Effective supervisors empower employees by giving them more decision making power and by seeking ideas from every team member. Getting group involvement to solve problems by sharing knowledge and information is the core rationale for having a team. When team members possess the necessary knowledge and skills, the supervisor's expertise and input becomes less essential. The supervisor can then become the liaison with external groups such as upper management, other internal teams, customers, and suppliers (Niemela, 2001). The supervisor represents the team's interests, secures resources, clarifies expectations, gathers information, and shares what is learned with the team. It is often the supervisor's job to build and maintain an effective team. Successful supervisors realize that all groups go through development phases, but high performance teams go through the phases quickly to reach the peak performance. Supervisors, as team leaders, must share information, trust others, surrender authority, and understand when to intervene. They participate in setting objectives, defining roles, and managing processes, such as time, disagreements, and change.

Diversity of thinking is one of the key characteristics of high performance teams. Problems need to be viewed from different angles if the best solutions are to be generated. If everyone looks at problems in the same way then many valuable options can be easy overlooked. If diversity is allowed and encouraged, then it is likely that better solutions will result.

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