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Teams at work refer to a group of employees or people that works together on certain tasks (Brounstein, 2011). Workers from different departments or sections of the organization or even from different organizations come together and pull their proficiency, insights and thoughts. There are several teams in an organization, society or management setup. For example, accounting, finance, production, and marketing or advertising teams, among others. Each member of the specific team has a specific role in the team (Brounstein, 2011).  This paper seeks to explain strengths and challenges of teams at work, and explore some theoretical conceptualizations of teams at work.

Strengths of Teams at Work. The concept team refers to the people who are doing something together. It is what they do in common that makes this group of people a team. This commonality and consensus on values and goals gives a team some advantages or strengths. To begin with, teams often provide well-organized substitute for control and direction of the individualistic workforce. Teams that are well-organized and directed are able to provide efficient and good working practices (Griffin & Moorhead, 2010). External management would not be able to attain such a stand if left alone. Indeed, it is through teamwork that one’s capabilities are recognized and used fully, while being appreciated for contribution towards realization of the overall goal.

Organizations today strive to have flatter structures which teams provide. Formerly, one manager supervised a group of five subordinates, creating multiple layers of operations in organizations. Teams at work have since then replaced this. One manger can now supervise several teams, thus, a flatter organizational structure is realized (Griffin & Moorhead, 2010).

Teams at work save money. Organizations that have turned to teams to save money have registered great achievements. Parker (2008) cited that instead of hiring new employees to undertake a task in the organizations, formation of teams of experts drawn from different departments enables an organization to achieve this goal at no additional expenditure.

Proper use of teams in the organization leads to increased productivity. In a team, employees are closer to action than in the former old system of individualized operations.  A team is able to see the opportunities to improve the efficiencies of the organization that the managers would not see. This increases and improves the productivity of the organization (Parker, 2008). Studies indicate that teams at work improve communication. Members of a team are ideal and are stakeholders in achievements of the organization (Bordessa, 2006). This makes the team intensify focus on the task to be done. The main heart of a team is sharing information and assignment of work. This contributes to efficient and effective operations in an organization.

Through teamwork, an organization is able to accomplish complex assignments and tasks. Such tasks might be challenging to accomplish tasks that would, otherwise, not be done if an employee works in isolation. The moment a task is multifunctional in nature, no single person can do it better than a team of multitalented specialists. This would be too much for one person to have skills and knowledge required to perform the task well (Bordessa, 2006).

A team offers a way for an organization to make use of its resources efficiently. It makes the organization focus its most important resources like the manpower to the direct solving. Combination of different skills and expertise at the work place enables an organization to limit the waste of any resource. In a team, ideas are shared and immediately converted into the decisions that are of high quality. This enhances good leadership that comes from good knowledge, well-thought and strategic action points. This improves quality of goods and services that an organization offers (Bordessa, 2006).

 Teams at work enable employees to develop self-awareness and reach their full potential at the workplace. Duarte & Snyder (2006) cited that it enables the individual employees to learn about how they perceive themselves and how people perceive them. This helps them to achieve their full potential. Such achievement gives employees a sense of fulfillment and motivation to continue working towards the goals of the organization. Besides, teamwork builds creativity and innovation among employees (Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008).

More creativity is realized through teams at work and, thus, better results. Teams at work offer a ground for testing out ideas and thoughts of employees with a proper network that one can depend on. Ideas harnessed together lead to better management and production aspects of the organization. Duarte & Snyder (2006) asserted that strengths like creativity of those who generate ideas, strong networking skills, evaluators who look into useful ideas, team players, and implementers contribute to increased productivity of an organization and customer’s satisfaction.

Challenges of Teams at Work. Teams encounter considerable amount of challenges that must be resolved to enhance success. For example, teams may face the challenge of personal agendas taking priority over team activities. This adversely interferes with the overall plan of the organization and hinders the achievement of goals. To get proper results in the team, it is critical to create enabling conditions where achievements or disappointments depend on the entire team. If the achievements expected can be met by one person, then the teams’ plans will always come second after the individual’s own agendas (Bordessa, 2006). 

Teams provide healthy environment for differences and conflicts to thrive. This is common in the cross-functional teams at work. Team members may experience difficulty in building consensus on an issue so as to steer ahead development. For example, a team member with experience in an area may find it challenging to persuade other members to adopt the new approaches that he or she considers cost effective and efficient. Parker (2008) cited that conflicts should be made fruitful rather than disparaging. When used well, the conflict can be transferred to expand the boundaries of what is possible, support inventiveness and realize better effects (Parker, 2008). Most organizations, therefore, spend a lot of time and resources in team building and collective strategic planning.

Disengagement is another challenge of concern in team working. Teams will work best if all members are attached and focused on the results to be achieved. The challenge here is to engage everybody in the team and realign all the different ideas into one towards achievement of the organizational goals. Some members may also hold back their views towards the work in the team. Parker (2008) cited that this remains a great impediment, since the hidden impediments may hinder an employees’ commitment to organizational goals.

Silo’s thinking is a challenge for teams at work. It arises when a team is composed of different professionals or expertise from within the organization. This makes people start developing the win-lose thinking. Nonetheless, it is essential for team members to understand that the outcome of the team collectively is far better than one’s individual benefits. Silo thinking is a great challenge that, if not properly addressed, affects the total outcome of the team (Bordessa, 2006). 

Lack of clarity of team objectives is a considerable challenge for many groups. When group objectives are ambiguous, collisions, role overlap and role complexity thrives in teams. In this regard, team leaders should clarify the team’s set objectives and goals. It is only collective responsibility, role complementarily, and harmony among the team members. Teams that are cross-functional in nature face a lot of challenges (Bordessa, 2006).

Power struggles to arise where various teams want to lead and take overall charge of the work to be done. This becomes even more complicated when he team members start arguments and controversies (Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008).  Management of the teams is also a challenge, especially in a cross functional team, and may be very difficult. Creating schedules is difficult as team members’ work at different places in the company or organization. This strains the possibility of building a cohesive and unified team. The teams need to realize that challenges are to be dealt with to meet the ever increasing clients’ demands and expectations.

Tuckman’s Teamwork Theory. There are several theories that have been put forward to explain teams at work. Tuckman’s teamwork theory was developed in 1965. Tuckman recognizes that a group does not begin with all operational structures in place. Tuckman discuses four stages of team growth and development. The stages include; forming, storming, norming and performing (Halverson& Tirmizi, 2008).

The Four Phases of Tuckman’s Teamwork Theory. First is the forming stage. This is the initial stage of formation of team at work. The members have not yet gotten acquainted with each other. Everyone tries to locate his/her position in the team (Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008). They ask a lot of questions as to why they are in the team. This is more of orientation to the team. At this stage, the team lacks leadership, commonality of values, norms and consensus on roles of each member.

The second stage or phase is storming. Here, people in a team begin to appreciate the fact that they are in a team. However, this stage is messy as members challenge each other openly. The leader of such group finds it challenging to deal with the issues that raise controversies among the members and to build a cohesive and united team (Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008). The members of the team differ on the principles, activities, and objectives of the team and how to work towards its goals. This stage is, therefore, full of chaos, conflicts, disputes, manipulations and open controversies. Productivity at this stage is very minimal as a lot of time is spent on discussions aiming at resolving the controversies and stabilizing the team under a structured leadership. The effects of loss of focus on the task and performances are witnessed (Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008).

The third phase is classified as norming. Tuckman describes norming as the stage where the group members begin to come together and start working as a team (Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008). Several clarifications on issues raising controversies are done, and people begin to build a consensus. There is a sense of cohesiveness, consensus and unity that sets in at this stage. This can be attributed to the fact that team members, at this stage, have began to recognize the unique values and abilities of each other. The main role of a leader at this stage is to enhance development processes, establish ground rules, clarify the roles of each individual, and how things are to be done in the team (Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008). This phase addresses the strengths and challenges associated with the shared views and opinions.

The final phase is known as the performing stage. Halverson & Tirmizi (2008) cited that this is the last stage where the focus on the task and on the team’s relationships is all brought together to marshal and mobilize the essential synergy for production. Efficient operation is guided by ground rules and mutual consensus. This results into sustainable performance of the team and production in the team.

Tuckman helps one understand how teams evolve and grow. It also helps understand and deal with the challenges of teams at work. The problems encountered at different stages of development of the team are also taken care of through this model (Halverson & Tirmizi, 2008). However, Tuckman’s theory has also one limitation. The theory assumes that evolvement of a team is sequential. However, some teams loop around and grow very fast without following the sequences.

The Star Team Model. The model provides the content to the phases described, situations and surroundings of Tuckman’s theory (Forsyth, 2006). It helps to establish and define the focus of a team and its members. The star team performance model unites the teamwork theories with some main beliefs of happy manager. It focuses on the individual strengths in pursuing goals that make a difference in the team. The model has three key points. Individuals focus on their strengths and identify where they can best contribute to the team. This is followed by people making decisions to come together and join the team. In order to realize any meaningful results, the team leaders must be assertive and clearly lay the ground rule and procedures for the team operation (Forsyth, 2006).

Conclusion

In conclusion, teams are great assets for any organization. The benefits of the team operation should be strengthened to enhance increased productivity in an organization. Further, the challenges relating to teamwork can be addressed to limit inefficiencies that with long duration of conflicts and controversies, especially in the storming stage of the team development. Organizations that have undertaken such trial have been able to register notable change in their productions. The success of any organization in reaping the strengths of its diversified human resources base depends on the ability of management of minimizing and overcoming the barriers of teams at work and building on their strengths to realize its objectives.

Code: Sample20

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