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Nurturing a team for organizational Development

Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American industrialist, who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century said, “No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.”  Any organization strives to achieve its Vision, Mission and its goal. These cannot be achieved if there are no concerted efforts thus leading to team work.

A good organization would basically mobilize its staff in the fulfillment of its overall objectives. This is to say that the management should strive in directing all efforts towards creating a sentiment of belongingness.

A team is “two or more people who must coordinate their activities to accomplish a common goal”. In other words Teamwork can be simply be defined, “as a state of unity achieved within a group of people working for a specific economic benefit”. The common goal and the required coordination make them a team.  It is most enough for people to want to coordinate. It would be quite logical to realize that the input of many would be nice as compared to the input of one individual only. 

Coordination must be required to accomplish the task in order to be a team.
The essence of a working “Team” is deeply rooted in the collective thinking of the Eritrean people.  The “Wefera” a voluntary activity of a team or work group in the Eritrean society, has been and still is a unique identity mark in the Eritrean Tradition. The system has kept the people united socially and economically for many generations.  A provisional work team is formed to plough a farm land for helping the destitute, to organize a wedding ceremony, to build a house, to support a bereaved family and any other social demands that need a concerted effort. This powerful voluntary communal support in a form of a team work has remained a noble tradition that makes even the poverty stricken to enjoy the self esteem within the society they revere so much. Renowned scholars such as Basil Davidson have in their speech or writing implored the people of Eritrea to keep this noble team support “The Wefera” for many generations to come.

The “Wefera” is an establishment of a work group who are organized for a short span of time. It can be a one day task activity or it can endure for a couple of days. Its impact in the society, however, is significant. The system educates the salient points of voluntarism and unity. 

The idea of mentioning the “Wefera” in this context is to emphasize the profound impact that it has shed over the people for centuries. When a belief is engrained in the mind of a person there is the tendency to honor and apply it.  The “Wefera” is therefore a noble idea that was created by our forefathers in supporting one another.  A lengthy article can be written on the “Wefera” In this article, however, our main focus will be on a team work in organizational context.

The tenets of the “Wefera” would perfectly fit in a team of an organization. The crucial difference that one can observe is that a team in an organization has to endure for quite a long time.  The essence of showing a united spirit in a team gives rise to a concerted effort in an organization’s activities. A well nurtured team will be a valuable asset to the organizational growth. Yet a team can not simply transpire and be formed from the open air. It all depends on the leadership skills of the individual who has taken the managerial reins, be it the first line manger or the managing director.  A careful selection of the individuals forming a group will have to be intelligently sought. In a typical experimentation the efforts of a team will be more manifested when managing a given a project. Putting on selected people with excellent performance would render the project a success.

In some occasions one would perceive that one would be reluctant to share ones knowledge to fellow work mates. By keeping the know-how to oneself one would sense the power he/she may have over the rest of fellow work mates. Accordingly one will feel indispensable and that he/she will win the fear or respect of the work mates. Contrarily, however, when knowledge is not shared productivity would dwindle. It would rather be a folly to expect a higher productivity from workers who have been denied knowledge sharing and were not subject to training and or cultivation. Eventually this will turn the workers in becoming sluggish in their work in general.  Over an extended period of time the feeling of neglect will certainly debilitate the employees. Consequently there would be the risk of being conditioned to pushing most of their activities, even the rudimentary task, to the desk of their superior.  It will turn out that such a leader will consider him/herself as a workaholic and indispensable.  While that person is buried under the piles of huge papers or other technical activities, his subordinates will psychologically feel of being less valuable to the organization.  When the feeling of un-belongingness takes root in their brain the employees would be tempted to squander much of their time in unproductive activities. Most would not honor the working hours. Much of their time would be spent during coffee time and the organization would heavily suffer from absenteeism. Customers would grieve and suffer considerably. Being conditioned to such interminable attitudes will affect the personal behavior of the delinquent turned employees.  Their aspirations to learn, work and grow along the path of their careers would gradually die.  If somehow a busy atmosphere will set in motion they will find it hard to activate themselves and turn out to be good performers. The leader will, in the long run, deteriorate in this thinking and performances, leading him/her to frustrations because of the unfulfilled objectives. Consequently the leader will thrust him/her self to an almost daily bickering with his/her subordinates. The organization or that particular unit or division will be caught in disarray. Before being caught by the psychology of weariness those sharp witted subordinates, in most cases, will leave the organization in search of a better work.

Members in an organization may have different skills. Some can be proficient in their performances and they may need to work independently. While others can be in a weaker position and would need the support of their seniors or other qualified staff. This is true especially with new recruits, who would need to be integrated into the family of the work team. Any staff needs to be cultivated for a better career opportunity. Members of an organization need to cope up with the dynamics of modern technology and managerial know-how. Staff members need new ideas and challenges. This would entail the need of continuous training programs.

The advantages of team work are many. The following can be cited as some of the essential points.

1)    In any business teamwork brings about a United Effort. This is to say that the task will be executed with the help of coordinated spirits. The task will contain ingredients of many brains as compared to the input of one person only. The team feels that all members have a shared performance. The owners or share holders will be encouraged to maintain a very good system of team work when they see their profits rising. Team performance would not be successful if it is not coupled by good team spirit. The harmonious spirit that prevails in a “Wefera” is a typical example of a successful achievement.

2)    A successful team work makes certain that there is an acceptable and fair division of work. This will formulate an excellent execution of work with the best possible efficiency. Furthermore it ensures that the work is done on time and within the limits of the deadlines.  The “Wefera” is a typical example in executing the task with admirable speed.

3)    The input of collective brains renders the task to be accomplished at a reduced risk. In the event of unsuccessful performances the burden is shouldered by the group. It would not be as heavy as the risk that will be carried out by just one person.

4)    One of the advantages of teamwork is that it promotes specialization in work. Individuals may optimize the quality of work they are assigned to.  A high quality of output can be achieved when someone is specialized in that particular task. Ultimately it will be a success of the entire team

5)    Team work produces the spirit of belongingness.  This is to say that individual interests will be subordinate to organizational interest. Their aim will be to achieve a successful output in concerted efforts.

6)    A successful team work performances will entice a “Good will” among its customers. Service seekers will enjoy the collective effort of the organization and feel how respectfully they are treated. Any service seeker will expect the best treatment for the money he/she will pay out.

An organization may need to apply some sort of control on a team. However this should be well planned and directed by an excellent system of coaching. The team should be made aware of the task they have to perform and the objectives they have to meet. A shared knowledge in a two way communication system eases the art of management. Keeping the group moral high, ought to be the prime accomplishment of the team leader. Within the parenthesis of some control a team should be given a measurable liberty or rather flexibility of deciding and the optimal execution opportunity. Efforts have to be made to make a team constantly believe in itself. There are supposed to have a discernible vision of their career development.  Superfluous interference, however, will dampen the morale of the work group. A continuous evaluation of the task can portray the extent of the performance they have achieved. When the team conducts an honest evaluation of their performance standard, they will be motivated to further improve their achievement. Launching a periodic reward and recognition event will boost the moral of the team.

In today’s world the essentials of a team in an organization is more felt as an asset of a striking advantage. With less employee turn over, the organization will be certain to maintain its steady growth. The group in a team has to work in unison for an effective overall performance. If the group is to have different motives the performance will literally be in disarray.  A successful coaching of a team in general and the excellent performance of the individual in particular, will ensure the process of delegation and thus the high output expected from a well established organization.

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