Building Teams that Click

Building Teams that ‘Click’

What is Team

A team is generally more  than one individual, though many a time you come
across terms such as ‘ one-man team’ or ‘one man committee’  etc. A team is
normally constituted for a particular task, sometimes complicated, where
each member focuses on the task or problem and contributes towards resolving
it successfully. In some cases, each member is assigned a particular
component of the whole task (eg. Writing a Report). The task  sometimes
involves a sequential performance where the second or next member depends on
the completion of a particular component of the task, by the first member,
after which alone could the next member do some further work on it towards
completing the main  task, typical in assembly line. On  the other hand,
sometimes,  every one is engaged in parallelI on accomplishing parts of the
whole job or task and then the final integration is  done (eg. writing
different chapters of a detailed Report) Very often, the entire team
discusses one particular issue from all angles to find the best possible
solution. Whatever way this is accomplished, every  individual’s
contribution matters  and that too with the specific goal I’n mind.
According to Katzenbach and Smith, ‘A team is a small number of people with
complimentary skills who are committed to a common  purpose, performance
goals and approach for which they are mutually accountable’. The letters in
the word TEAM  can be expanded as Total Effort of All Members.

Why Team?

Nobody can be independent in this world and continue to live alone, without
some kind of dependence on some others for something. Man is a social animal
and he has to interact with one another for something or the other. I’n
one’s entire life man has to depend upon several people for several things,
and one will agree that it is an inter -dependent world. In  our day to day
life, we all work as some kind of a team, without there being a formally
constituted team,as such, and without any knowledge of it.

Teams for various purposes

Complex matters, major missions/projects

Sometimes in order to solve a complex matter and to get a suitable and
workable solution,  a specific team is constituted. Here, each member, while
thinking of the specific problem only, , thinks from his own angle ; thus,
each one thinks from a different angle and different ideas that emerge are
then discussed and the best solution arrived at.  Successful large team work
involves winning wars, missions to moon, mars etc.  launching satellites,
amazing research/discoveries  in science and  technology etc.

Teamwork in  office .

An organization consists of several people. Viewed from the organization
point of view, all the people who work I’n the organization together form a
whole team and irrespective of  whether you call it so or not, it is and it
has to work  as a team, towards achieving the goals of the organization and
not  at cross purposes. Of course there could be teams, within the
organization, constituted for various specific and complex tasks, needing
the expertise of more than one individual. The most common example of a team
in  an office/organization is the Recruitment Team or the Job Interview

Teamwork I’n Government

Take  the Government, for instance. Even here, there are GOMs (Group of
Ministers), Cabinet Committee, Empowered Committees etc. for specific
issues. The main benefit of team is that it stands to  gain from the
collective wisdom, expertise, ideas of  the members who constitute the

Teamwork In  sports;

The best examples are of course cricket, football, volleyball, basket ball
etc. where  the individual players have to care more for the team’s success,
while at the same time excelling in  his own part I’n the game, through
which the team itself succeeds.

Understanding within the team

The most important points teams have to keep in  mind are:. they have to
work together, they  have to have harmony within the team, they have to
exhibit team spirit, they  have to focus on  common goal, each member has to
respect the feelings, capabilities and contributions of the rest of the
members, the team should take into account individual weaknesses and
strengths and appreciate each other’s  point of view.  And, more important,
the leader of the team has to ensure that it’s members work as a cohesive,
whole unit.

Managing and Building  Team

Managing a team in itself is a complex task, since the members who
constitute the team may have varied interests and there could be a tendency
to outsmart other members. A competent manager has to understand the
weaknesses and strengths of all it’s members and should always work to
motivate them to focus on the common goal of the team. There is need for
perfect communication  among the team members and the leader should keep
this in  mind, so that friction, delay etc. could be avoided. According to
Alex “sandy” Pentland (HBR), ”how we communicate turns out to be the most
important predictor of team success – and as important as all other factors
combined, including intelligence, personality, skill and content of
discussions.’  Again, there should be, what may be called, goal congruence.
The people should be managed in  such a way that the synergy of 1 plus 1
should be not two, but eleven. The leader should also ensure that every
member  looks at  the team as one collective unit, and the leader himself
should always talk in  terms of ‘we’, since it is ultimately the success or
failure of the team, and the credit for success or the responsibility for
failure should be owned by the group as a whole.


Great teams are built through trust, communication, confidence and the will
to succeed.  According  to Sun Tzu, ‘ There are not more than five musical
notes, yet the combination of these give  rise to more melodies than can
ever be heard; there are not more than five colors yet in combination they
produce more hues than can ever be seen; there are not  more than five
cardinal  tastes  – sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter – yet combination of
them yield more flavors than can be tasted’. This only  emphasizes that a
good team,  with a diversity of interests, aptitudes, skills, knowledge,
expertise etc.could, through their combination ( and of course the right
combination) create wonders – a kind of ‘lightning-in-a- bottle stuff’ (to
quote Pentland again) which just happens.


About cvsubramaniam

Former Director, Department of Electronics & Informatiin Technology, Government of India.. Authored Book on Human Resource Management. Published 80 plus articles on HR, Management, S&T, general topics.
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