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What is Teamwork? Characteristics of Effective Teams

A nice and informative resource, on teamwork and characteristics  that identify effective teams, is available from the Non Destructive Testing (NDT) Center at 'Teamwork in the Classroom'.

Some excerpts from this resource:

"What is Teamwork?

Teamwork is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary as "a joint action by a group of people, in which each person subordinates his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group." This does not mean that the individual is no longer important; however, it does mean that effective and efficient teamwork goes beyond individual accomplishments. The most effective teamwork is produced when all the individuals involved harmonize their contributions and work towards a common goal.

Characteristics of Effective Teams.

The following are eight characteristics of effective teams the were identified by Larson and LaFasto in their book titled Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong (Sage Publications 1989).

  1. The team must have a clear goal. Avoid fuzzy, motherhood statements. Team goals should call for a specific performance objective, expressed so concisely that everyone knows when the objective has been met.
  2. The team must have a results-driven structure. The team should be allowed to operate in a manner that produces results. It is often best to allow the team to develop the structure.
  3. The team must have competent team members. In the education setting this can be take to mean that the problem given to the team should be one that the members can tackle given their level of knowledge.
  4. The team must have unified commitment. This doesn't mean that team members must agree on everything. It means that all individuals must be directing their efforts towards the goal. If an individual's efforts is going purely towards personal goals, then the team will confront this and resolve the problem.
  5. The team must have a collaborative climate. It is a climate of trust produced by honest, open, consistent and respectful behavior. With this climate teams perform well...without it, they fail.
  6. The team must have high standards that are understood by all. Team members must know what is expected of them individually and collectively. Vague statements such as "positive attitude" and "demonstrated effort" are not good enough.
  7. The team must receive external support and encouragement. Encouragement and praise works just as well in motivating teams as it does with individuals.
  8. The team must have principled leadership. Teams usually need someone to lead the effort. Team members must know that the team leader has the position because they have good leadership skills and are working for the good of the team. The team members will be less supportive if they feel that the team leader is putting him/herself above the team, achieving personal recognition or otherwise benefiting from the position."

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