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What do Successful Work Teams Have in Common?

Productive teams usually share many characteristics. They have a common purpose each member is committed to. They stay involved until the objective is completed. They care about each other. And, in keeping with this, they are concerned about how their actions and attitudes affect each other. They listen to each other and respect all points of view, and are sensitive to each other’s needs. And their leaders encourage everyone’s participation in the decisions to be made.

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If you looked into groups of employees who work as teams, you would see these characteristics or traits:

Openness and candor. The more reluctant people are to express their feelings and be honest with each other, the more likely suspicion and distrust will exist. When real teamwork is present, team members, because they basically trust each other, are more open and honest with each other.

Acceptance of assignments. It might make each of us happier if we could choose all our work. However, this is unrealistic. Still, when real teamwork exists, team members willingly accept assignments. Motivated by peer pressure, they also work hard to get their jobs done right the first time and to meet deadlines.

Understood and accepted goals. A team needs purpose, direction, and goals. These objectives are accepted by the members of the team, and the team members work collaboratively to achieve them. Their manager has explained the importance of achievement of these goals in the bigger corporate picture, and team members understand why it is so important for the goals to be reached. Committed to their accomplishment, they assist one another to make them a reality.

Progress and results assessed. Teamwork requires that members be results-directed as opposed to process-oriented. Their focus is on their objectives, and their activities are directed toward those goals. Periodically, under direction of a leader, the team assesses its progress. That knowledge serves to guide future team action. This includes identification of barriers and what can be done to rid the team of them.

Shared trust. In a healthy team, members essentially trust one another. Despite occasional conflict, members get along well and enjoy each other’s company. They cooperate and get the work done.

Involvement and participation. Teamwork requires that members be involved in their work and participate in team activities. What they say and do counts for something.

Many work environments in which teamwork is practiced involve team members in decision making, practicing participative management.