RETHINKING TEAMWORK

TEST OF TEAM PERFORMANCE: CAN THEY HANDLE CONTENTION?

It is easy for a team to work smoothly when things are going well. It is only when the toughest and most contentious issues arise that we discover whether a team really functions effectively.

SUMMARY

As everyone in business knows, a frequently implemented response to today's challenging corporate environment has been to increase the emphasis on teams as a tool for getting work done. Organizations have invested significant resources, and often created major corporate stress, to install flatter, team-based organizations. In most companies today, teams form, disband, and reform in new configurations regularly. Flatter, team-based organizations are clearly here to stay.

But are teams working? Now that the investment has been made in reorganizing work processes, are we confident that all team members are maximizing their contribution to overall team efforts?

Sometimes team initiatives produce results. Yet many times they fail to meet management's performance expectations. For every team which is working productively, it seems another is stalled, under-performing, or demoralized. For every success, there is a story of a team initiative stalled by "terminal niceness," "vicious compliance," or some other dysfunctional problem.

Why is this? What can be done?

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