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Self-directed work teams : the new South African organisational challenge

M.Comm. / Teams have existed for hundreds of years, are the subject of countless books and have been celebrated throughout many countries and cultures. Most people believe they know how teams work as well as the benefits teams offer. Many have had first-hand team experiences themselves, some of which were rewarding and others a waste of time. Yet, as I explored the use of teams, it became increasingly clear that the potential impact of single teams, as well as the collective impact of many teams, on the performance of large organisations is woefully under exploited - despite the rapidly growing recognition of the need for what teams have to offer. Teams outperform individuals acting alone or in larger organisational groupings, especially when performance requires multiple skill, judgements and experiences. Most people recognised the capabilities of teams; must have the common sense to make teams work. Nevertheless, most people overlook team opportunities for themselves. Confusion about what makes teams perform explains only part of this pattern of missed opportunity. More is explained by a natural resistance to moving beyond individual roles and accountability. We do not easily take responsibility for the performance of others, nor lightly let them assume responsibility for us. Overcoming such resistance requires the rigorous application of 'team basics', which is, commitment to the team and objective, accountability for yourself and for the team and skills for technical and interpersonal problem solving. By focusing on performance and team basics - as opposed to trying 'to become a team' - most small groups can deliver the performance results that require and produce team behaviour. The best way to understand teams is to look at teams themselves. Their own stories reveal their accomplishments, skills, emotions and commitment better than any abstract commentary or logical presentation. Real teams are deeply committed to their purpose, goals and approach. High-performance team members are also very committed to one another. Both understand that the wisdom of teams comes with a focus on collective work-products, personal growth and performance results. However meaningful, 'team' is always a result of pursuing a demanding performance challenge.
Date29 February 2012
CreatorsLombard, Johannes Petrus
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish

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