Supportive Team Climates
Team work has proven to have a significant impact on the realization of sustainable advantage. This sentiment is seconded by case studies justifying how people working in teams are more productive than individual workers. According to Nancarrow et al. (2013) teamwork is classified as a social intelligence competency that evaluates the ability for people to work in groups towards the realization of a shared goal. Effective work teams are characterized by active performance of all members, as well as shared rewards and responsibilities. According to Lacerenza et al. (2018) the organization has to meet certain conditions in order to create a supportive climate for teams to thrive. These conditions or competencies are; creating tension, freedom, collaboration, challenges, supportiveness, and resources. The conditions contribute towards goal clarity, trust, information sharing, and loyalty, which ultimately leads to either task or/ and personal connection among the team members. It is upon this basis that this paper discusses and explains reasons with reference to examples from the case study and other references how each competence leads to personal or task connection.
Management and Team Conditions/Competencies
- Creative Tension
The term creative tension denotes a situation where discord and disagreement among team members ultimately gives rise to critical thinking and better ideas. Lacerenza et al. (2018) believe that in order for the teams to achieve goal clarity, nurture trust, loyalty, share information and strengthen their personal connection, there need to be different perspectives, approaches and opinions. Teams that are characterized with controlled levels of creative tension end up creating an accommodative environment where they critically listen to each other and collectively come up with a consensus. Practicing to control creative tension over and over creates a safe and comfortable environment where everyone contributes their ideas in an honest manner. As trust and loyalty among team members escalate, the relationship become more interpersonal. The level of interdependence also increases. An example is the case of the Kevin Reddy who craves creative tension and debate as they help him gain a bigger picture of issues. Over prolonged working with his rival Dan Fogarty at Noodles & Co. the two learnt to tap into each other’s creative sides thus becoming more productive and strengthening their relationship (Taylor et al. 2014). The example illustrated using the case “A restaurant’s team of rivals” highlights how creative tension stimulated intellectual diversity and tolerance for disagreement thus helping create a successful team of leaders at Noodles & Co.
It is often said that smooth seas never make good sailors. This sentiment applies to organizations whereby challenges stimulate the employees and the work teams to think outside the box. According to Lacerenza et al. (2018) challenges require greater mental and physical efforts. To create a supportive team climate, the workplace should present the work teams with challenging tasks that tap into the capabilities and knowledge of each of the members. For instance, the organization could present them with organizational problems to find solutions, give them urgent deadlines, change routine, and encourage more intellectual and physical input into the work process. Work teams that are constantly presented with challenging tasks learn the weaknesses and strengths of each other thus become more interdependent on each other. A case in point is illustrated using the “Lacrosse’s quiet trio” where after years of training together since childhood and engaging in challenging competition, they have nurtured trust and goal clarity (Taylor et al. 2014). They understand each other’s weaknesses and strengths and can easily allocate challenges to the team member with the highest success rate at doing the task.
According to Bruce Tuckman’s team formation theory, collaboration is an aftermath of creative tension and challenge. The theory argues that members can only learn to collaborate after engaging in team conflicts. The conflicts help them understand that they need to collaborate to handle difficult tasks (Moraru, Dub & Sroka, 2019). As a result, the conflicts teach them to surrender their ego and forfeit personal interests in order to achieve group goals. Such level of abandonment creates a stronger and more interdependent team where members trust each other’s ability, skills and mastery of a given part. Therefore, the teams learn to depend on each other to survive. The change in attitude creates more functional and collaborative teams that are loyal to each other. Such high levels of collaboration are evident among the ‘folks’ who built Whole Foods (Taylor et al. 2014). The executives learnt during the early stages to play and stay together (collaborate). The resulting closeness and trust in each other helped them build a successful brand. Because of the collaboration, the execs have better communication and are willing to work things out when in disagreement.
Freedom is a term that describes the state of having liberty and the right to think independently. It is a relative term thus cannot be measured or ascertained with clarity. However, management must identify suitable levels of freedom to grant their work teams. This means setting them free from micromanagement, intrusive evaluations and excessive surveillance (Lacerenza et al. 2018). Instead, the teams should be free to determine their schedules and how to accomplish their tasks. The essence of freedom is to encourage independent thinking among the employees. It is certain that team members will have conflicts, but when given freedom to settle their grievances, they will learn how to coexist among themselves without needing the intervention of the management at the organization. This is the case with the Toyota’s fuel-cell group where the teams have the freedom to engage in road-trips as they test drive the fuel-cell car (Taylor et al. 2014). Such levels of freedom encourage information sharing, nurtures trust, loyalty and goal clarity. In the long run, it contributes towards personal connection and better performance.
Support for teams can be shown by the team members, the management, or other stakeholders including the society. It is important that the teams begin by supporting each other. The highest levels of support in team work is achieved when the members are self-less towards the needs of each other. Secondly, the management needs to avail the needed resources to encourage team working (Lacerenza et al. 2018). This includes providing financial and non-financial support. The management should play the biggest role in supporting the teams through empowering them and giving them freedom. This way, the management encourages independent thinking which results into discovery of new ideas and concepts. The other stakeholders including the society or customers should give constructive feedback in case of tasks requiring customers input such as assessment of quality standards. An example is Homejoy which received intensive support from the society and other stakeholders such as Redpoint Ventures and Google Ventures which injected $1.7 million and $38 million as seed money.
It is inevitable that resources play a big role in strengthening teams. For instance, without resources, the work teams cannot work effectively. They need devices to communicate whenever they are working in different geographical locations. In addition, resources such as information through knowledge management systems, technologies, manpower and funds are important in strengthening team’s performance. An example is when Toyota provided the Fuel-Cell Team with resources for road-tripping (Taylor et al. 2014). The end result was a more united and productive team of engineers, and employees.
Lacerenza, C. N., Marlow, S. L., Tannenbaum, S. I., & Salas, E. (2018). Team development interventions: Evidence-based approaches for improving teamwork. American Psychologist, 73(4), 517.
Moraru, R. I., Dub, T., & Sroka, M. (2019). Group Development Process in Management of Work Teams. Quality-Access to Success, 20.
Nancarrow, S. A., Booth, A., Ariss, S., Smith, T., Enderby, P., & Roots, A. (2013). Ten principles of good interdisciplinary team work. Human resources for Health, 11(1), 19.
Taylor, A., Alsever, J., Hempel, J., & Roberts, D. (2014). The New Teamwork. Fortune, 169(6), 78-82.