Characteristics of an Effective Team

Teamwork can be accomplished through individual contributions and/or collaborative efforts. Individual contribution occurs when team members take personal ownership for a portion of the tasks that the team needs to complete. Upon completion of their individual tasks they present their result back to the group. The group then corrals this production and compiles it as the final product. Another process of teamwork is when a group of individuals works together generating ideas and forming the end result, building and achieving consensus about how the tasks and goals will be accomplished throughout the project.

In the previous section your learned about the stages that teams commonly move through. Now we will focus on what it looks like when a team is functioning at the "performing" stage.

Successful teams have some common characteristics. These characteristics include:

  1. A common goal(s) that each team member knows and has agreed to accomplish.

  2. Established ground rules (regarding group interactions), which may include behaviours that support values such as: trust, openness, inclusion, open communication, a willingness to listen to different ideas and a sense of belonging.

  3. The team encourages creativity and is open to new ideas about how to accomplish their goal(s).

  4. The team has developed the ability to self-correct. This is the process of reflection, identifying themes and problems and choosing to learn from them.

  5. Team members have learned to be interdependent. Each member is aware of the knowledge, skills, and resources that individual team member brings.

  6. The team has developed processes for reaching consensus and or making decisions. The decisions are made together and have the support and acceptance of all team members.

  7. The team has participative leadership. Leadership shifts among the team members as the individuals have the skills and knowledge to guide the team.

The following diagram illustrates one way that teamwork can look visually. Individual team members come together to generate ideas. When the team has exhausted the ideas they then decide which idea is the best solution. The solution/suggestion is put forward as the best solution for the task at hand. In most cases the decision is made by consensus.

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