Empowerment Leadership Model for Small Groups, Teams, & Families
Course 5, Lesson 16
Increasing Cooperation Among Team Members
Copyright 2001 Dick Wulf
Team members won’t cooperate if they do not see the critical necessity of working well together. You might think that being on a team automatically leads to teamwork. Not so.
It is most unfortunate that most people think of being on a team not so much as working together as all being on the same list of names. For example, the phrase “we’re all on the same team” rarely means that we must learn to work together. It usually just means that we all want the same thing. Or it is a marketing ploy to build a bridge between seller and buyer. Our highly individualistic society often works against teamwork.
To have significant cooperation among team members, a team leader must do tasks that correctly start a group of people off as a team. Right at the beginning of the team the leader suggests a team purpose that will meet the organization’s need and also some basic needs of the team members (usually exercising their faith).
After a team has adopted a significant team purpose stated in terms of results (not activity), the team needs to discuss what kind of team and member behavior will be necessary to achieve the desired results. This discussion cannot be overlooked. It is this very discussion about needed behaviors that sets the stage for cooperation and efficiency in teamwork.
This discussion will highlight many cooperative behaviors that are necessary for the team to be successful. Getting to work on time, communicating need-to-know information, being friendly, and helping one another do their jobs right are just a few of the many things that the team will mention.
After the team leader gets the team as a whole to discuss constructive team member behavior in light of the critical team purpose, a discussion should be held regarding what the team as a whole will need to do. Here is where it will be mentioned that the team must work cooperatively. A long list of things the team as a whole will need to do should be mentioned, among which might be making sure that every team member gets a chance to contribute, knowing the strengths and weakness of all team members as well as the team leader, and regularly evaluating the team’s performance.
Helpful to increased team cooperation is an additional discussion of what individual and team behaviors need to be avoided. Dysfunctional individual behaviors might include complaining rather than problem-solving, forming alliances, and not bringing to the team problems that need to be solved in a timely manner. Dysfunctional team behaviors to be avoided might include circular discussions that go nowhere, taking too much time for pleasantries and joke-telling, and excluding or not dealing with a disliked team member.
Then, after these discussions, the team leader must help the team implement what they have decided, promoting constructive individual and team behaviors and discouraging destructive as well as useless behaviors. As they do this over time, more and more needed behaviors and cooperation will be identified and implemented.
And keep in mind those four big mistakes in team leadership. They are deadly on team cooperation. Not leading the team as a whole prevents such cooperation. No critical purpose removes any reason for cooperation. Doing for team members what they can do for themselves supplants cooperation. And not leading the team toward synergy dismisses cooperation.
Next: Developing Teams That Think Through What Will Be Necessary
to Accomplish the Team’s Purpose
Copyright 2012 Dick Wulf, Colorado, USA