Why Doesn’t Everybody Have Effective Teamwork?

Coming together is a beginning.

Keeping together is progress.

Working together is success.

~Henry Ford

Obstacles for successful teamsBuilding and maintaining a team that functions well is a quest that many companies are on. Collaboration is such a buzz word lately and truly teams must collaborate if they are going to be successful. So why is there such mystery about developing a well-functioning team? Clearly there is a disconnect between theory and how teams function in real life.

*Please join us Friday, September 21st at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Why Doesn’t Everybody Have Effective Teamwork”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.The ingredients for an effective team?

In his post, “The Key Ingredients of a Successful Team,” Vineet Nayar states that there are 3 ingredients that create effective teams.

  • A big challenge
  • People with a passion to perform
  • Space to excel

These ingredients may contribute to successful teams but there may be some wishful thinking. It assumes that an organization has good to excellent morale and/or no overlapping teams. He also writes that that team members “…spare little thought for the rewards; they’re absorbed in overcoming the challenges they face.” This assumes that the motivation is based on overcoming the challenge. It’s not that simple.

Dr. Meredith Belbin, researcher on teams from the UK, theorizes that there are roles that must be filled for teams to function well. He says,

“A team is not a bunch of people with job titles, but a congretation of individuals, each of whom has a role which is understood by other members. Members of a team seek out certain roles and they perform most effectively in the ones that are most natural to them.”

These nine roles are more determined by behavior than personality. They are:

  • Plant
  • Resource Investigator
  • Monitor Evaluators
  • Coordinators
  • Implementers
  • Completer Finishers
  • Teamworkers
  • Shapers
  • Specialist

Disrupters of the team

In his 2009 HBR interview, J. Richard Hackman, Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Pyschology described what keeps teams from working well together. Over the years that he has spent researching teams, he has discovered when teams lack of agreement on what is their work, an undisciplined leader, inconsistent coordination, ambiguous boundaries and too many team  members, they fail to achieve their goals.

Current global trends, Belbin and Hackman

Nick Ashley, speaker at the HCM2012, identified three significant global trends. Since more organizations, large and small, can more easily work internationally, team members may not even be on the same continent. He reported that successful teams were able to end the silo mentality, develop positive relationships and include a sense of belonging.

These trends do not seem out of line with Belbin’s or Hackman’s research. While the are other schools of thought about teamwork (e.g. Agile. Teamwork Theory, use of game theory, etc.), there are still many teams that fail to find a cohesive way to collaborate. So, why doesn’t everyone have effective teamwork?

How do you differentiate between a working group and a team?

What perpetuates the disconnect between team development theory & real life practice?

Who defines the team-the leader or team members?

How do team members facilitate one another’s performance outside of the theoretical frameworks?

When does collaborating as a team not make sense?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth and small business coach/trainer, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding in your own backyard or into another country, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.