Team Dynamics Teams differ from other type of groups in that members are focused on a common goal, such as a presentation, completing in-class exercises, taking notes, discussing a topic, writing a report, or creating a new design or prototype. The most common definition of team is: '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 are mutually accountable.' (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993) Effective team members need the following three basic skills: Communication and Negotiation - Team members need the ability to state ideas or questions clearly, listen to others attentively, and to resolve disagreements in a non-confrontational manner. Team members also need to be in constant contact with each other about where they are at in the development of their project. This is a skill that many people may lack. Analytic and Creative Skills - Team members need to evaluate information and propose creative solutions. Many people have these skills, but may not be able to effectively communicate their views or concerns.

Organization - The team needs to be able to track and complete all its tasks on time. Tensions can often arise if deadlines are missed. There are some tips that can help team members communicate more effectively. Listen actively, ask questions, give constructive feedback, don't express an opinion as a fact, explain your reasons, restate the original idea to be sure it's understood, compliment another's idea, respond, don't react, don't interrupt, critique the idea and not the person. Teams mature as their members learn to work together on the assigned task.

During the process of maturing, teams tend to go through predictable stages of growth. The four stages of the development cycle are: forming, storming, nor ming and performing. Stage 1: Forming - The individuals who have agreed to be team members initiate their activities as an immature group getting acquainted. A sense of belonging and the main emphasis for members is to determine if they have membership. They have already decided that they will contribute to the group once others recognize their membership. Sometimes, too much agreement occurs during the forming stage, and in almost all cases, minimal actual work is accomplished.

The appropriate leadership style during this stage is directing. The leader provides high levels of directive behaviors that focus on close supervision and instructing the team members of what, where, how and when to do things. In addition, the leader offers the team low levels of supportive behavior that focus on listening to what its members have to share, encouraging team members, and involving them in decision-making activities. The leader also provides information and develops skills, while seeking opportunities to make sure roles and goals are clearly understood. During this stage, task behaviors focus on understanding goals and can be described by the word orientation. Relationship behaviors focus on establishing membership and understanding roles, and are described as dependency.

Stage 2: Storming - Individuals jockey for influential positions within the group. The honeymoon is over. Conflicting goals and ideas emerge. Again, minimal work is accomplished during this stage. The appropriate leadership style is coaching. The leader continues to provide high levels of directive behavior, but increases supportive behavior, including more listening and soliciting more input from team members.

Task behaviors of the storming stage can be described as organization. The relationship behaviors focus on influence and are described as conflict. Stage 3: Forming - The group becomes a unit as a code of behavior is agreed upon and conflicts are resolved. The coalition of individuals begins to become more productive as the members share ideas and beliefs more freely. The appropriate leadership style is supporting. The leader decreases the level of directive behavior, but continues to provide high levels of supportive behavior by helping team members work together.

An emphasis is made on preparing the team for the next level of activity by helping them assume decision-making responsibility. During this stage, moderate levels of work are accomplished. Stage 4: Performing - The group has become an effective team, capable of solving problems. As the group of individuals becomes a closely-knit team, synergy is created.

The result is a high level of work accomplishment. The appropriate leadership style is delegating. The leader reduces the levels of both directive and supportive behavior. The members of the team are now able to provide their own leadership. But the team leader still needs to monitor goals and performance level.

For the performing stage, the task behaviors are defined as problem solving, and the shared leadership-based relationship behaviors as interdependence. The forming, storming and nor ming stages produce minimal task results. So, it's tempting to try to bypass those stages and focus activities directly on task performance. But experience tells us that time invested in the first stages will pay off in large dividends as the project progresses. The predictable stages of team development depend on factors such as individual and team maturity, task complexity and leadership.

These stages are inevitable, though they may vary in duration from team to team, or from project to project for a given team. Attempting to bypass them will ultimately yield less optimal results. Although team dynamics can differ from team to team, functional teams share these characteristics (Bodwell 1996, 1999): Full Participation - All team members contribute their time and energy to the project. More importantly, all team members participate in the decision making process. Having a dominant leader may work for the very short term, but will eventually lead to morale problems later on. Trust - Members trust that each member will add value to the project, and members work to ensure that everybody does contribute and that appreciation is expressed for different contributions.

Open Communication - The main glue that holds a team together. Communication is effective when all members: contribute ideas, provide feedback constructively, ask for clarification on anything that might be confusing, provide frequent updates and listen to each other carefully. Clear Roles - Teams tend to function better if member roles are defined. There are several ways 'roles' can be defined, and they need not be mutually exclusive. By work function - Most corporate teams assign roles by work function. For instance, an online newsletter may require an editor, a reporter / writer , a graphic artist and a Web master.

By meeting function - Many sources also suggest assigning some or all the following roles for projects, which require significant brainstorming. Initiator - Puts ideas on the table. Facilitator/Leader - Defines problem and sets agenda. Recorder/'Secretary'- Records all ideas with no other comment. Can also act as a timekeeper.

Devil's Advocate/Skeptic- Reviews ideas for potential problems. Optimist - Person who keeps a positive frame of mind and facilitates search for solutions. Summarizer/Clarifier - Summarizes and clarifies results. Is often the same as the facilitator? Liaison/Spokesperson - Maintains contact with the instructor on behalf of the group.

Could be the same as the recorder or the facilitator. Reflector - Does not participate in the group activities, but observes process and reports results to the group. Quality Control - Successful teams are willing to collectively review their output and processes to ensure that the final product or solution meets or exceeds the team goal. Risk-taking - A successful team will also be willing to take creative chances or experiment.

That could mean that a team may do something not within the stated project guidelines. Social/Business Balance - Although teams shouldn't socialize 100% of the time, it shouldn't be all business either. A dose of chitchat allows members to know each other better, leading to better working relations. In today's fast-paced business environment, work is best done in teams. Yet, many organizations consider teams a waste of time, effort, and resources. Dueling egos, scapegoat, hidden agendas, and barely hidden conflict can derail teams.

As companies are forced to rely more heavily on teamwork to compete, capabilities in building and leading teams have become crucial to success. Teams are not instantly functional. Team members need time to get acquainted and to become familiar with each other's strengths and weaknesses. Training will teach the team how to plan a strategy so the group can work in unison. The training would encompass two areas. The first would address the issue of how to achieve team dynamics.

If they understand the dimensions such as identification, interdependence, power use, social closeness, conflict management and negotiation. During the training process we will address some of the following issues: domination by a few loud voices, problem-solving techniques that become bogged down, members who don't listen or who don't feel heard, unwillingness to deal with conflict and differences so that unresolved issues remain simmering just beneath the surface, power conflicts, poorly designed meetings that waste valuable time and resources, lack of trust among members. While at times, the learning experiences are not always comfortable for the members, but by the end of the training the members should be closer and have a clear direction on how to proceed. To succeed on teams, people must be effective team members and excellent individual performers at the same time. Building a successful team means learning how to meet the expectations and personal growth needs of team members while ensuring that the team is able to effectively contribute to the company's success. Word Count = 1679 Bibliography Katzenbach, J.

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