Teamwork. There are several reasons why a business may organise their staff into teams. Working as a team can be a motivator with every member having support as teams are formed to undertake tasks and procedures

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People are not generally solitary beings; people often associate in groups and teams in and outside of work. This can be for many reasons; here are some of the principal reasons why groups are formed:

  • To satisfy social needs for love and belonging
  • To establish relationships
  • To gain recognition as a member of an identifiable group
  • To exert influence, either within the group , or as a group on outside events or circumstances
  • To gain help in carrying out objectives
  • To share in an activity

In the workplace, teams are often formed to complete a task or project. Although there can be other groups in a business which are less formalised, and some may take on a permanent aspect. For example, DC Foods work together everyday as a team in which each member contributes to the overall work of the department. Each member of the team is constantly reporting directly back to different area managers. DC Foods believe that; “Working Together is important, the work of the finance department is essential to the efficient running of the company. We rely on each other for information, and for the support in the work we do. If we didn’t pull together as a team, none of us could carry out our function.”

There are several reasons why a business may organise their staff into teams. Working as a team can be a motivator with every member having support as teams are formed to undertake tasks and procedures which cannot be successfully undertaken by one person alone. Teams can also increase commitment as people in a group are likely to feel a commitment to that group and want to work for the success of the group. Many teams are organised to complete a certain project, as the workforce will contain people with a range of sills and experience, and the team can be managed more easily and effectively than individuals doing their own thing and working alone. Teams also make it easier for a business to disseminate information to all employees.

How Teams are formed

Teams go through a fairly defined pattern of development. There are 4 main stages to team formation; Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. I will discuss these stages in more detail:


The team members come together as a collection of individuals. At the outset, there is likely to be some discussion of the objectives and composition of the group. At this stage and members begin to establish their roles within the team, to seek recognition and position.


Conflict between group members can occur in the early stages of team formation as members’ personal agenda come to the fore. There is often a degree of jostling for position within the group. During this storming phase team objectives and roles identified during the forming stage are refined. The division of roles within the group becomes established.


The team attempts to establish norms and standards of behaviour and practice. Some team members may “test the water” to see how far they can get away with not conforming to team norms.


A team can only be fully effective when the team has come through the pervious stages-of forming, storming and norming, successfully! At this stage, a team will have fully developed its approach to achieving is objectives. It now needs to deliver results.

These are the main stages, although there is a fifth stage; adjourning. This is the final stage, where the group separates. Although this could have previously happened if members had left for other reasons, such as conflict.

Team Members

Generally, team members fall into 2 main categories: Leaders and followers. However, within these 2 broad categories, there are many other roles that members fulfil which are essential to the successful performance of the team. R M Belbin has developed a computer program to identify 9 basic roles which must be fulfilled for a group to be fully effective. I have completed and attached a copy of Belbin’s questionnaire and placed it in the appendix. The questionnaire showed me that my role in a team is a chairman whose role in the team is to welcome and treat all members of the team equally, and to understand and ensure the team understands the objectives at hand. This surprised me, as I would think that my role would be something more of a team worker, as I wouldn’t particularly consider myself as a leader. A team workers role is to respond to the people and situations and promote a sense of team spirit. The other role Belbin believes make up a team are a completer finisher, who has their mind set on the task and perfects to finish it. A monitor evaluator monitors other members’ progress and passes judgement throughout the team. A resource investigator is extroverted and enthusiastic, explores new ideas and responds well to a challenge. The Plant member of the team is imaginative, knowledgeable and serious, whereas the shaper is highly strung, outgoing and dynamic. The company worker is conservative and predictable, being able to organise well and work hard with self discipline. As I mentioned earlier, when working in a team I feel most comfortable working as a team member, as I don’t enjoy leading or delegating the tasks.

I have to work in teams regularly throughout both school and work. In school, there have been times where I have worked as a team to prepare a presentation or complete a project. When working as a team, I play the role of the ‘Team Member’, and let another member delegate the tasks. Although, I do become frustrated if the work isn’t being complete or no decisions are being made, and then I will to delegate tasks so that progress is being made.

So although I see myself in a role, I will at times depending on the circumstances take on other roles, which challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone. I am sure this must be the same in all environments so it is important to maintain some flexibility when using Belbin’s Model.

Benefits of working within a team

An organisation will enjoy significant benefits if the team is well-structured.

  • Boosts Morale- The social interaction between team members will make individuals feel part of a close-knit circle. Membership of a well-structured team, particularly if individuals have been chosen for certain roles, will make workers feel they are playing an integral part of the whole process and have the confidence that they can influence decision making. This will boost the individuals’ self esteem and motivation; meaning good results for the organisation.
  • Mutual Support- Members of an effective team will have an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and will give each other support where needed. This means that there will be minimal competition between team members, as there will be a good understanding of the destructive effect that internal conflict will have on the teams’ performance. This creates a good working environment for the individual who will feel comfortable about asking for help from other members of the team. The business will also benefit as there will be fewer issues and conflict to be presented to management, as the team is likely to have already discussed any problems and propose potential solutions alone.
  • Team Accountability- In many team projects, the short-term objectives are likely to have been set by the whole team itself. As a result, individuals in that team will feel ownership of the goals and targets. They will see failure to meet those as a whole-team failure, rather than 1 individual failing. This will motivate the individuals as they will be more confident to work, and feel less pressure if they know they are working together.
  • Reduced Supervision- As mentioned earlier, the setting up of its goals by the team itself will mean the team will feel ownership of them and strive to achieve them. Furthermore, individuals will have a good understating of the importance of their own contribution. Individuals within a well-structured team will be self-motivated and will need minimal supervision. This clearly is an advantage to management, whilst at the same time raising the self-esteem and feeling of personal fulfilment amongst individual employees.

For Example, at RWE npower, teamwork is essential for effective decision-making. RWE npower is an integrated energy company. It is the third largest supplier of electricity and gas in the UK, through its npower brand, and one of the largest electricity generators. Groups of engineers with different skills come together to shed light on problems and issues and to come up with improvements. In a team there will be engineers with different technical knowledge and experience. These will include mechanical, electrical and civil engineers, and computer specialists.

Teamwork involves good communication skills, particularly the ability to listen to others' ideas. Being able to identify the route cause of the problem and understand the symptoms is essential. Working in teams creates a buzz of excitement.

Engineers enjoy solving problems. They like to be creative. Working together allows them to bounce ideas off each other. Some of the solutions RWE npower engineers have come up with have saved the company millions of pounds.

Limitations of Teamwork

  • Conflicts can Arise- As there will be many different types of people with different ideas and opinions in the team , conflicts can arise which can cause the work to be incomplete, team members leaving, and more time spent resolving problems rather than working. I can relate to this problem, as when working in a team in school to compete a presentation, there was a lot of conflict about who wanted to do what part, and everyone not wanting to do certain parts such as talking in the presentation. This caused us to fall behind in the work as we were not discussing the project at hand, but more what we didn’t / did want to do! If I had to do a task I didn’t really want to do, motivation was effected, as I became de-motivated and didn’t want to work as hard to achieve it, as I wasn’t enjoying it.
  • Planning can be difficult- It can take a lot of time to plan the structure and the size correctly of team, as the roles of each person need to be worked out, and the size of the team needs to be right, which can take a lot of time, without even having started the project. For Example, In Belbin’s model he identifies 9 different roles which are needed to create an effective team. It would take time researching these roles and finding people who fit them exactly. Also , if there are less than 9 people , they will have to fit into more than 1 role.
  • Communication needs to be Co-ordinated- Members of the team will all have different schedules, and especially in a large team, it can make it difficult to contact and arrange meetings which everyone can attend to. Also, quieter members in the team need the chance to speak, and without the right balance of personalities, some members of the team may not be able to communicate and get their point across. I can also relate to this, as when working to complete the project at school, we found that we didn’t have a lot of time to meet up out of lessons as we all had different schedules, and this caused problems as it resulted in us all doing the same bits of work, as we weren’t communicating and getting regular updates.
  • Imbalance of tasks- Some team members may cause competition and be after different things, such as recognition or promotion, and may take on a heavier work load. In some cases this can be good, as it ensures the project will be complete, but they have to make sure they have been realistic with the amount of work taken on. Also, lazier members of the team may not do as much as the others which will lead to the team being de-motivated with conflict arising, and feel de-valued in the team.
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Theories of Effective Teamwork

I am now going to look at 4 management theorists whose work on teamwork has been significant, and explain how their ideas can affect the approach of businesses to the management of human resources.

The first theorist I will look at is Belbin.

Dr Meredith Belbin defined a role in a team as;

“A tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.”

Belbin’s research shows us that there are 9 types of behaviours or team roles which are naturally taken on by various personality ...

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