Fostering team spirit amongst employees

These days when organizations are introducing several ways to foster team spirit amongst employees, in an endeavor to ensure that all team members are on the same page in terms of work, is it true that one poor performer can actually hamper the performance of the entire team as opposed to the rest?

The strength of the chain is determined by its weakest link. Yes, if poor performance on part of a team member is not caught upfront and corrective measures taken, it will bring down team performance. Team members tend to accommodate, step in and compensate for any weakness and that spreads the burden within the team. Systems should be put in place to provide leading indicators on non-performance to enable the organization step in support and take corrective measures.

One poor performer is, legitimately said to destroy the performance of an entire team only if the poor performance comes as a complete surprise. Otherwise, the team should be able to plan around its weak link and should not use the poor performer as an excuse for poor results. To take a sporting analogy – if you pass the ball to your star bowler in the last over and he bowls only wides and no balls and full tosses, that could destroy the team’s chances. But, if you know the bowler is weak, you would never put him in such a position.

Of course, it does especially if the poor performer is handling a task in a bottlenecking position. It becomes imperative in such situations for the team leader to distribute work in such a way that adequate redundancy planning is in-built into the team. To that extent, a leader needs to think “negatively” what all can go wrong with whom, and plan accordingly with alternative back ups to ensure that nothing goes wrong and the task is successfully completed.

The solidarity or cohesiveness of a team is an important indicator of how much influence the group has over its individual members. The more cohesive the group – the more strongly members feel about belonging to it – the greater its influence. If the members of a group feel strongly attached to it, they are not likely to violate its norms.

Team cohesiveness also plays a role in small companies. Team cohesiveness is critical in helping the individual feel good about his or her contribution to the effort. When TQM was introduced at Kane, teams of between five and eight employees were set up to deal with specific problems and demonstrate the impact that teams could make. They also made sure that all employees understood that no improvement is too small. Over a period of time, they can make a major difference. The first team the Job Information Team, worked on improving the clarity of forms used to process orders. Once the project was completed the team’s recommendations were accepted and immediately implemented. Kane continue to emphasize the importance of every team and very employee to TQM.

Highly cohesive teams often have less tension and hostility and fewer misunderstandings than less cohesive groups do. Additionally studies have found that cohesive groups tend to produce more uniform output than less cohesive groups, which often have problems with communication and cooperation.

The Software Reusability Department of ARINC Research Corporation discovered that trust is the key to cohesiveness in teams. What this means is that cohesive teams cannot tolerate extremists, positive or negative. One of our most difficult realizations, recalled Risa B Hyman director of the department, was that some talented individuals cannot flourish in a team oriented environment. If team cohesion is not to be eroded, management must recognize such a mismatch and address the problem before team goals are jeopardized.