Imperative of effective teams for organisational growth

THE PUNCH Newspaper

While every employer aims at optimal productivity at the workplace it is also unarguable that it does not come on its own. In other words, organisations that desire to always get the best from their employees must employ specific strategies towards achieving set goals.

One sure way, experts believe they can do this is team building. Never underestimate the power of a good team, they say.

”The power of a team is both incremental and enormous,” asserts the Chief Executive Officer of Team Building International, Mr. Yinka Olugbodi.

According to him, every organisation needs to explore and exploit the great potential inherent in teams. ”It is absolutely essential that companies and organisations start building these ”building blocks” of organisational success if we are to remain relevant and competitive for the future. The future challenges in idea generation, innovation and quality service delivery can only be confronted by an effective team,” he says.

Speaking in the same vein, the President, Nigeria Institute of Management, Dr. Sally Adukwu-Bakare, describes teams as the main factors which guarantee an organisation‘s sustainability by ensuring productivity.

”When there is a team, it means that they will not allow any leakage. You can control the process of production in a team and therefore, better able to produce more.

You are also able to mentor and coach the team members and help them acquire the skills because they are working together and they all will be working towards achieving a goal,” she explains.

The Managing Director of Georgetown Consulting, Mr. Chi Chi Okonjo, does not think any differently here. As a matter of fact, he insists that no organisation can function effectively without a cohesive team running its affairs.

He says, ”To achieve any organisational goal, it will require that different groups of people within the organisation first understand what the goal the organisation wants to achieve is. Then the groups of people within the organisation will have to work in unison to accomplish that goal. If the people within the organisation are not united, the goal can never be accomplished because some of the participants may sabotage the aims of the organisation either knowingly or unknowingly. Every organisation rises or falls by the quality of teams it has running the organisation. It then follows that team development is perhaps the most significant task of any leader of an organisation in order to foster unity of purpose and clarity in strategic objectives and goals.”

But they also point out that an ineffective team is as good as none at all. Therefore, it is imperative that organisations lay emphasis on building effective teams or risk losing out in the survival race.

What is more? They also advise that it should begin right from the outset; from the recruitment process, that is.

”Building an effective team involves recruiting the right people and that means that an organisation must have an effective recruitment policy. And it should always place the right people in the right places. That is what people call putting round pegs in round holes. One of the laws of good team building according to John Maxwell is that each player have a place where he adds the most value. You do not bring in a wrong person into the team because once you do that, it will hinder it” she adds.

Okonjo re-echoes this submission, asserting that the first step to building effective teams in an organisation starts with recruitment.

He notes that the most critical success factor for any organisation is the quality of human capital employed within it and therefore, during the recruitment process, interview questions should be tailored in such a way as to identify those candidates that work well in teams. He says, ”It is no secret that the best run and most admired organisations usually have a rigorous recruitment process because they realise that the most important determinant of success for their organisations begins at the recruitment phase so they make sure potential employees undergo careful and deliberate process before they are screened and employed. There are many people that are exceptional but because they cannot work well with other people in teams, they end up jeopardising the overall objectives of the team. “No organisation can succeed based on such people, so it is critical that during the recruitment process, individuals that have a high level of emotional intelligence and function effectively in teams be given priority over lone stars.”

For Adukwu-Bolujoko, another way an organisation can ensure it builds effective teams is never to toy with motivation and effective communication. This, she says, can be done through meetings so that the team members realise that they are members of a team indeed.

”You should know how to handle information. If you do not handle information properly people will not know that they are members of a team.

“There should always be a feedback; let it not just be about briefing or there would be performance gap. If you inform adequately, you will minimise gossip among team members” she adds.

Yet another quite important step in building effective teams, Okonjo says, is to create a sense of belonging amongst the team members. According to him, the organisational leader or leaders must create a sense of belonging by initiating programmes within the organisation that will make the people believe that they are part of a team. To accomplish this, they must articulate the mission, vision and strategic objectives of the organisation and ensure the buy-in of all members of the organisation‘s team. He also canvasses for the need for team leaders and setting clearly articulated goals for teams.

Okonjo adds that to make a success of building an effective team, organisations should avoid recruiting lone rangers who do not work well in teams.

He explains, ”Avoid people who are narcissistic and who elevate their personal desires and goals above those of the organisation. Once these people are avoided, then the threat of an unforeseen or unexpected difficulty is greatly diminished. However, the same criteria for recruiting people of exceptional intelligence and ability must not be overlooked but rather must be a complement to high emotional intelligence.

“In terms of the team itself and their decision-making abilities, all teams must have clear rules of engagement. These rules will state how decisions are to be made within the team with regards to the goals to accomplish. The rules will also state the strategic objectives to be achieved and the time given to accomplish those strategic objectives. This is very crucial because teams can get bogged down in analysis paralysis, which usually results in no decision being made.”

The NIM president believes that effective teams cannot exist where organisational leader practise favouritism. ”If you bring in favouritism and double standards, it will weaken or even disintegrate the team,” she says.


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