Millions of words have been written about successful teams and successful team performance. Thousands of teams have been studied intensively to find out why they’re successful. The answers are as varied as the teams. But there are two features that stand out. They are goal dependence and task interdependence. They sound a “mouthful”. But staff must realize how important they are.
Importance Of Team Goals
As managers, we’re inclined to concentrate on individual performance and individual development. That’s what we’ve been taught. The last 4 decades has seen a vast increase in individual development programs and development. This disregards goal dependence and task interdependence. Yet these two factors are clearly evident in any workplace.
No part of the business can be really successful without co-operation from other parts. And no individual can succeed without the co-operation of others. As every sports fan knows, a champion team will always beat a team of champions.
What Goal Dependence Is
Goal dependence means that each team member depends on the other members to achieve his or her goals. It also means that the most important goal to be achieved is the team goal.
What Task Interdependence Is
Task interdependence means that if one team member doesn’t do his or her job well, one or more of the other members can’t do their jobs well either. This is obvious in sports teams. And it’s clear in the workplace too.
The Heart of Effective Team Performance
Goal dependence and task interdependence are at the heart of successful team performance. I know they’re “fancy” words. But they’re clearly descriptive. The implications are what matter. Because small-medium businesses have relatively fewer employees, good teamwork is essential. And you need a plan to get started on it as soon as possible.
The Team Exists: A Vital Reality
Managers are responsible for developing effective teams. Notice that I said “developing” not “building”. If you have only one employee, you have a team. It doesn’t have to be “built”. It exists. It, not the individual, is the basic productive unit in your company. This is a very important reality you need to grasp.
Multiple Team Membership Is Normal
Each employee will be a member of at least two teams. A manager is usually a member of at least three: the management team, the team he or she actually leads and any other team or teams he or she participates in as a member.
Implications For Small- Medium Business
In small-medium business, employees must interact with many others or “wear many hats” merely because of business size. That’s why team development is so important in your small-medium business. Rigid, single membership is far more likely in large business. Employees need clarification of both individual and team roles and goals.
Implications For Managers
The reality of Goal Dependence and Task Interdependence means that small-medium business managers need to review a number of things
- What teams exist?
- Who’s in which teams?
- What are the goals and the performance standards of the various teams?
- What are the crucial interactions between them?
- Are team incentives already in place?
- Do employees value teamwork highly?
- Are they, the managers, effective leaders?
- Do our systems enhance performance both within and between teams?
- Is effective membership part of our staff selection criteria?
- Do my fellow managers and I emphasise the importance of our interdependent teams?
Effective team performance is essential in small-medium business. In these businesses a breakdown within a team or between teams can have devastating results. And because staff may “wear many hats”, poor performance in one area will invariably have serious consequences in others. Goal Dependence and Task Interdependence may sound a bit like longwinded jargon. But they sum up a reality confronting managers in small-medium business every day.