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Working in groups and teams
Working in groups and teams

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1.1 Making teams work: An introduction

In today’s organisations, more and more work is carried out by teams and groups of people working together towards a common objective. Making teams and groups work effectively is a challenging task for the manager. Bringing individuals together can slow down and complicate everyday processes and conflict can make even the simplest task difficult to achieve.

Team working has benefits, however. It provides a structure and means of bringing together people with a suitable mix of skills and knowledge. This encourages the exchange of ideas, creativity, motivation and job satisfaction and can extend individual roles and learning. In turn, this can improve productivity, quality and customer focus. It can also encourage employees to be more flexible and can improve the ability of the organisation to respond to fast-changing environments. The benefits and difficulties of team working are summarised well by Mabey et al:

A team can … achieve what none of the individuals within it can do alone; with the right dynamic, a collection of ordinary individuals can achieve extraordinary feats. But the converse can also occur: a team can fail to achieve what any of its members could easily accomplish.

(Source: Mabey et al, 1998)

The challenge of learning how to make teams work begins with understanding what teams and groups are.