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How to build a successful team

Mention the word “team” to people and they will probably think of sports, but the principles of team effectiveness are the same whether a team is based in the work place or on a pitch.

 In “Managing teams”,1 Robert Heller says: “A true team is a living, constantly changing, dynamic force in which a number of people come together to work.” A successful team is more than just a collection of individuals: it has synergy. That is to say, the achievement of the team is greater than what the individual members of that team could produce on their own.

A group or a team?

It is important to understand the difference between a group and a team. Groups tend to come together for a specific purpose but members work independently. A group may have a leader, but the roles and functions of the other group members are not well defined. In contrast, an effective team has the following characteristics:

  • Members who understand and commit to their role within the team
  • Shared sense of purpose
  • Members who share and contribute to team goals
  • Strong leadership
  • Members who trust each other
  • Members who support each other
  • Good communication
  • Ability to manage conflict when it arises
  • Transparent decision making processes

Roles within a team

Many organisations use the Belbin team model to analyse their teams. Dr Meredith Belbin defined “team role” as being about how people behave in a team, how they contribute to a team and how they interrelate with other team members. Having spent nine years researching team behaviour, he concluded that a balanced team exhibits nine roles (described in Panel 1 on p816) and that different personalities naturally lean towards certain roles.

The nine roles can be grouped into three categories: action-oriented (people who take responsibility for tasks), people-oriented (people who relate well to other people within the team) and cerebral (people who think creatively and analytically or contribute ideas and knowledge). Each role contributes differently to the team, but is also likely to be accompanied by typical weaknesses, which Belbin describes as “allowable”.

Although a balanced team reflects all nine of Belbin’s team roles, this does not mean that a team must be composed of nine people. It just means that all nine roles must be covered in order for a team to be most effective and many teams are composed of people who carry out more than one Belbin role.

If a new team is being created from scratch, then consideration needs to be given to filling the team with people who can bring characteristics of each of the nine roles to the team. For existing teams that are not productive enough, certain members may need to be replaced in order to ensure that all the Belbin roles are present within the team.

Download the attached PDF to read the full article.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10982047

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