How do you get team members to be both individually and jointly accountable? The traditional, individually oriented evaluation and reward system be modified to reflect team performance.
Individual performance valuations, fixed hourly wages, individual incentives and the like are not consistent with the development of high teams. So in addition to evaluating and rewarding employees for their individual contributions, management should consider group based appraisals, profit sharing, gain sharing, small group incentives and other system modifications that will reinforce team effort and commitment.
This category includes variables relate to how teams should be staffed. In this article we will address the ability and personality of team members, allocation roles and diversity, size of the team, member flexibility and members’ preference for team work.
Abilities of Members: part of team performance depends on the knowledge, skills, and abilities of its individual members. It’s true that we occasionally read about the athletic team composed of mediocre players who, because of excellent coaching, determination, and precision teamwork, beats a far more talented group of players. But such cases make the news precisely because they represent an aberration. As the old saying goes, the race doesn’t always go to the swiftest or the battle to the strongest, but that’s the way to bet. A team’s performance is not merely the summation of its individual member abilities. However, these abilities set parameters for what members can do and how effectively they will perform on a team.
To perform effectively, a team requires three different types of skills. First, it needs people with technical expertise. Second, it needs people with the problem solving and decision making skills to be able to identify problems, generate alternatives, evaluate those alternatives, and make competent choices. Finally teams need people with good listening, feedback, conflict resolution, and other interpersonal skills. No team can achieve its performance potential without developing all three types of skills. The right mix is crucial. Too much of one at the expenses of others will result lower team performance. But teams don’t need to have all the complementary skills in place at their beginning. It’s not uncommon for one or more members to take responsibility to learn the skills in which the group is deficient thereby allowing the team to reach its full potential.
Research on the abilities of team members has revealed some interesting insights into team composition and performance. First, when the task entails considerable thought (for example solving a complex problem like re-engineering an assembly line), high ability teams (teams composed of mostly intelligent members) do better; especially when the work load is distributed evenly. (that way, team performance does not depend on the weakest link). High ability teams are also more adaptable to changing situation in that they can more effectively adapt prior knowledge to suit a set of new problems.
Second, although high ability teams generally have an advantage over lower ability teams, this is not always the case. For example, when tasks are simple (tasks that individual team members might be able to solve on their own), high ability teams do not perform as well perhaps because, in such tasks high ability teams become bored and turn their attention to other activities that are more stimulating, whereas low ability teams stay on task. High ability should be ‘saved’ to tackle the tough problems. So matching team ability to the task is important. Finally the ability of the team’s leader also matters. Research shows that smart team leaders help less intelligent team members when they struggle with a task. But a less intelligent leader can neutralize the effect of a high ability team.