How do you build effective teams that work?

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To enable teams to reach their optimum level of performance,managers must first identify and understand thedynamics of team work. Industrial psychologist Lizanne de Jong talks about the components of productive, successful teams.

Important elements that affect team performance includes, "processes in team development, level of competency (individual), emotional Intelligence, team maturity, and organisational and team culture', asserts de Jong.

Team and organisational culture are separate issues as teams don?t always imitate the accepted practices of the business,says de Jong. "It is possible that the culture of the organisation may be open and supportive while there may be a history of discord in the team itself?

Personality is another contributing factor to effective teamwork and within this element there are various preferences, such as "information processing, lifestyle orientation, decision making preferences and where individuals get their energy from.'

For example, there are individuals who are rational, organised and detail-oriented explains de Jong. In a business setting these qualities are greatly valued. However, people who fall into this category can be experienced as demanding and insensitive by people who do not possess these preferences.

On the other end of the spectrum people can make more subjective decisions and are seen as "soft-hearted? because they consider the impact of business decisions on people and can neglect the task focus required. These people internalise criticism and struggle to deal with conflict situations.

According to de Jong, managers need to recognize that people operate differently. The reality is that most employees perform well in certain areas and poorly in others. "Don?t label them as bad workers? cautions de Jong. Instead, managers should look for ways to utilize team members in terms of their personality preferences or constitute the team in a way that will optimise the unique gifts that individuals bring to the team.

She advises managers to assist people who struggle with deadlines to follow up more regularly and not wait for the deadline. This is one example of a way in which managers can help employees thrive in their roles.

During the "Making teams more effective? course, de Jong provides similar tips and tools to optimize individual and team performance. She provides insights on in-depth knowledge of team functioning, improving team performance, managing teams and understanding the specific complexities and dynamics of teams.

"Based on my experience and research the fault line in business is the lack of training and experience of middle managers. Managing teams makes it even more difficult' says de Jong.

To boost team performance and manage employees correctly join the Making Teams More Effective training course. For more information call 011 447 7470, email faith@alusani.co.za or visit the website Alusani Skills and Training Network

By Cindy payle

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