TEAM SUCCESS: THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS Introduction What is a team? A team is “a number of persons associated together in work or activity. ” (G. & C. Merriam Co. , 1975, p. 1196). This definition of a team hasn’t changed since 1975. What has changes in the last 30 plus years is the concept of what makes a team successful. “A working team is a group of people who work and communicate with each other almost seamlessly. ” (Schiffman, 2008, p. 1). For a team to thrive it needs to have a strong leader but the essential components for a team to succeed are empowerment, communication and trust.
These elements encourage commitment and promote accountability among team members, thus improving the productivity of the team. Essential Elements Empowerment is the new buzz word in the team environment. How is it defined? To empower is “to give official authority. ” (G. & C. Merriam Co. , 1975, p. 373). This authority is pivotal to the development of a team that functions and operates at its full potential. Empowerment is the most crucial element for a team’s success. When the team members have the ability to set the rules and guidelines for the team they have a greater stake in the outcome.
They have been given a license to succeed. “”Empowerment…. It presents the concept that if employee are treated as team members, rather than subordinates, the resulting morale and motivation increases will yield a superior product or service for the customer. ” (Kinsey, 1995, P. 28). Teams that are given the ability to define their own goals and purpose will flourish. Team leaders and members must share in the responsibility to make decisions and solve problems. In other words, team members need to set their own rules and goals. Goals are the glue that holds a team together,” (Temme & Katzel, 1995, p. 112). When a team is empowered it works together. The team that has common goals and priorities is productive. A true sense of camaraderie exists when members have a say in the objectives of the team. Team members need to communicate with each other in positive and effective ways for a team to be successful. Communication is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. ” (G. & C. Merriam Co. , 1975, p. 28). Communication between team members must be open and honest. Members need to be able to voice their opinions and thoughts without fear of repercussions or reprisals. Conflicts that arise need to be dealt with swiftly before they have time to fester. Each member needs to know his or her ideas have value and are included in the team’s overall goals. This environment of open communication permits all members to be aware of the expectations and responsibilities within the scope of the team. (“Team-building strategies for a better outcome,” 2007).
Open communication between team members is critical for the success of the team. Members need to be able to trust that each person will pull his or her own weight. Each member needs to know they have the trust and support of the entire team. Trust is the “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something. ” (G. & C. Merriam Co. , 1975, p. 1255). Trust is something that each team member needs to earn. Depending on the team makeup, trust is sometimes assumed until it is breached or violated.
If a team member does not hold up his or her obligations the entire team suffers. (“Team-building strategies for a better outcome,” 2007). Benefits of the Essential Elements Teams that successfully incorporate the concepts of empowerment, communication and trust in their team plan flourish and thrive. These elements foster commitment on the part of the team members. Team members, committed to the goals they have established as a team, work harder to achieve those objectives. This accountability builds momentum and in turn increases productivity. (LeClair & Page, 2008).
Having established the rules, goals and objectives of the team, members are more accountable for their actions. They have a greater stake in the outcome of the team production. They are responsible for the success or failure of the team. Team members “must be willing to assume the responsibility that comes with empowerment. ” (Temme & Katzel, 1995, p. 112). The successful team is a productive team. The team will achieve the goals and objectives they have developed. Successful teams take time and persistence to develop. All the essential elements need to be present for the team to succeed.
Conclusion Teamwork is an essential part of the academic and professional environments. Teamwork is a concept that is here to stay. For a team to be successful it needs to certain key elements. A strong leader is necessary for a productive team but empowerment, communication and trust are the essential components. These fundamental factors encourage commitment, promote accountability and increase productivity within the successful team. References Ancona, D. , & Bresman, H. (2007, September). Thinking outside the team. HRMagazine, 52(9), 133-136.
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