If this is present within a group of people, then their performance will be enhanced by their mutual support (both practical and moral)" (Blair 2008). Groups, and members of a group, must have strong interpersonal and managerial skills, to become self-managing units. A group must exercise collective leadership, not merely be lead by a single individual (Blair 2008).
Even if one person may be designated as a leader, the group must agree upon a particular way to organize meetings, plan, set goals, and monitor and review performance. Having a mission statement can help give clarification and focus to all of these duties. If the mission statement becomes a point of contention, it at least encourages the articulation of issues in a clear and directive fashion and may even establish that disagreement is 'okay' within the group, early on. Having a formal feedback procedure ensures not only that the group is less likely to go off-task but helps to generate an atmosphere in which criticism is neutral rather than focused upon personality (Blair 2008).
Managing team diversity
In today's workforce, teams are more likely to be diverse, ethnically, geographically, and in terms of age and gender than ever before. Depending on their cultural as well as personal orientation, team members may have different levels of conflict tolerance, and more direct and indirect means of articulating their opinions. Fostering sensitivity towards such cultural differences, as well as personality differences, is a positive goal for a team leader or member. This can be quite difficult, causing Geert Hofstede to tartly note: "Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster," given that individuals with different backgrounds may have trouble communicating, due to their different levels of respect for individual vs. group identity, respect for power hierarchies, and avoidance of uncertainty ("Geert Hofstede Analysis," 1999, International Business Center).
Ideally, the team will establish a norm by which individuals can retain their distinct personalities, but obey certain agreed-upon rules as to how to express their opinions. The dangers lie in requiring too much confrontation, which can result in certain members of the group becoming overly reticent, and stifling their input, or requiring so much agreement that possible areas of creative contention are smothered. Different areas of expertise will also add to a different character of team composition, as someone from a company's it department, for example, may have different assumptions about how to work and the right way to approach problems than someone with a human resources background. Soliciting the input of both individuals can make the solutions stronger, and encourage more effective task balancing. Being aware of the differences in orientation and outlook is required at the outset, to ensure that miscommunication does not take place, and that there is sensitivity shown to different communication styles.
Perhaps more importantly than anything else, listening is important. Listening when a member of a diverse or a homogeneous team is required to make maximum use of all the interpersonal as well as technical resources at hand for the team. Ideally, group diversity and the processes of group functioning will make achieving a goal more efficient and effective, but these processes must be managed correctly by every team member with humility and bravery lest things grow awry, discordant, or fall into a pattern of groupthink.
Blair, Gerard M. (2008). "Groups that work." The Art of Management. Retrieved March 14, 2008 at http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~gerard/Management/art0.html?http://oldeee.see.ed.ac.uk/~gerard/Management/art0.html
Famous models: Stages of group development." (2001). Chimaera Consulting.
Retrieved March 14, 2008, at http://www.chimaeraconsulting.com/tuckman.htm
Geert Hofstede analysis." (1999). International Business Center.
Retrieved March 14, 2008, at http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/hofstede.htm
Kratzer, Jan Roger, a.J. Leenders & Jo M.L. van Engelen. (2005, Summer).
Stimulating the potential: Creative performance and communication in innovation teams." Creativity and Innovation Management. 46. 4. 7. Retrieved March 14, 2008, at http://sloanreview.mit.edu/smr/issue/2005/summer/01/
Missico, Anthony. (2001, Oct 26). "Lessons from geese"
Retrieved March 14, 2008, at http://www.missico.com/personal/thoughts/lessons_from_geese.htm. Mohamed Yusope, Rauf. (2008, March 13). "Discover how you can learn about working well as a team." EzineArticles. Retrieved March 14, 2008, at http://ezinearticles.com/?Discover-How-You-Can-Learn-About-Working-Well-as-a-Team&id=1044742