All 2 entries tagged Team

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June 14, 2009

Effective Teams

I beleive that a part of leader's responsibility is to improve his or her team's effectiveness. I have not thought of it before but what is an effective team? What makes a team effective? 

I found my answer in chapter 10 of 'Inspirational Leaders' by Ronald J Burke and Cary L. Cooper. In the book, team effectiveness consists of 2 components: team performance and team viability.

Performance relates to teams ability to successfully deliver an output. Where as the concept of viability is future oriented and includes continutity (maintaining core team membership), commitment (to shared goals), cohesion (unity between team members) and capability (developing competencies to achieve shared goals).

So to maximise effectiveness of a team, a leader must attend to both performance and viability of the team.


May 03, 2009

Optimum number of team members

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meredith_Belbin

Meredith Belbin stated that an effective team must have at least one of the following:

1. Plant

2. Resource Investigator

3. Co-ordinator

4. Shaper

5. Monitor-Evaluator

6. Team-worker

7. Implementer

8. Completer-finisher

9. Specialist


Linking this with what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book - 'The Tipping Point' - it raises an interesting question what is the optimu number for people in an effective team and what a leader must do when the team exceeds that number. Malcolm Gladwell wrote an individual can only have continuous, regular and meaningful contact with maximum of 12 people. An individual rarely can exceed that  number because everyone is limited by time and energy.

In our in-class discussions we assumed that the team we are talking about are about the same size as the one we had for all the modules that we attended i.e. between 4 and 7 team members. In teams of this size, it is easy for a leader to keep contact with everyone and address each team-member's problem(s) as they arise.

However, what happens if we as leader(s) must manage a team of 50, 100 or even 347 people. How do we keep at least the majority of them motivated and working hard towards the set goals. I beleive that in order to achieve this a leader must develop sub-leaders or lietenants who can supervise the sub-sets of teams. The leader will lead his lietenants who then will lead their team-members. 

This is the structure that most organisations adopt. Although it does enable the leader to manage a large sized team, it does create an additional problem of how to ensure that the message does not get diluted or skewed as it travels down from the leader to the lowest team-member.


I beleive that there are 2 things that leaders must to do to mitigate this:

1. Have a clear, short vision that easily be converted into strategy and specific operational goals.

2. Ensure that there is a clear communication channels that allow open feedback.


To summarise, an effective team must not be above 12 people and if there are more than 12 people in a team they should be broken down into sub-teams according to specific goals and/or tasks.


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