Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Group or Team?

This Friday, I am off to Wisconsin with my peers to go fishing, have some fun, and strengthen relationships. Over the past year, we have experienced what I would consider substantial organizational change. As a result, some members are gone while others have have joined the group; some areas and projects have been integrated into the group and some have been eliminated. Clearly it is time for us to work on developing new relationships, earning each other's trust, and figuring out ways to work together to make us successful as a team. I believe fishing will be the mortar which binds all those building blocks together.

In preparation for the trip, I have been reflecting on what it will take us to be a more effective group, and to transition from being a group into a team. During a largely sleepless night (I was thinking about cleaning fish), I spent some time online looking at attributes of great teams. I found these at George Mason University's Center for Service and Leadership web site and I'd like to share them with you (I added a few attributes of my own):
  • Mutual Trust--I can state my views and differences openly without fear of ridicule or retaliation and permit others to do the same. No one on the team will "cut the other guy's throat."
  • Mutual Support--I can get help from others on the team and give help to them without being concerned about secret agendas.
  • Communication--I don't have to be guarded and cautious about my communication. Because of mutual trust and support, I can say what I feel. When I communicate, I know the rest of the team is listening and will work hard to understand me. I also listen to and try to understand other team members.
  • Team Objectives--Objectives will not be assumed by the team until the objectives are clearly understood by all members.
  • Conflict Resolution--We accept conflicts as necessary and desirable. We don't suppress them nor pretend they don't exist. We work through conflicts as a team.
  • Utilization of Member Resources--Our individual abilities, knowledge, and experience are fully utilized by the team. We accept and give advice, counsel, and support to each other while recognizing individual accountability and specialization.
  • Control Methods--I accept the responsibility for keeping discussions relevant and for the integrity of the team operation. Each member accepts the same responsibility. We don't need a chairperson or other devices to control us.
  • Organizational Environment--We respect individual differences. We don't push each other to conform to central ideas or ways of thinking. We work hard at keeping our "team climate" free, open, and supportive of each other.
  • Clear understanding of the risk and rewards.
  • Have Fun--should be obvious, but sometimes isn't.

The difference between a group and a team is that a team is a group of people working together towards a common goal. Team building is the process of enabling the group to reach our goals. I am looking forward to our team building this weekend.


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