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Building Effective Teams: A Theoretical Perspective

Updated on January 27, 2020
christinageorgiopoulou profile image

PR and Business Specialist BA/MA Journalis, Media and PR fields

Building effective teams in businesses is one of the most essential core points and is tantamount to communication with fellow coworkers and colleagues as well as trying to share knowledge and skills with others in order to be productive and enhance your company’s reputation. In a work environment, manager should acknowledge that they play a pivotal role in building effective teams and must be aware of their position in this procedure (Mealiea, Baldazar 2005). Cohen and Baily pinpointed that most of the companies in United States have used groups to support the goals and objectives of the organizations.

Many organizations fail to fulfil building effective teams although many of them have consultants. This happens because they do not utilize critical team building resource which must have any organization, the role of a manager. Managers play a very important role to the orchestration of a team (Mealiea, Baldazar 2005).

There were many researches about the team building effectiveness and how a manager can uphold the team’s spirit. Lewin (1942) was the one who found that team building and group psychology are essential and coined the term team dynamics. Schutz (1958) underlined the interrelation of teams and how conflicts appear. Peck (1940) confronting to Tuckman’s theory about stages of groups, he pinpointed some stages like pseudo-community, chaos, emptiness, honest community. The most of the researches were taking about the role of the manager and other researches were more general as they spoke about the role of every individual in the team. Mark Miller’s model about the effectiveness of teams represents how successful teams were focused on results. As Miller (2001) said teams should be built in a strategic way to fulfil the needs of the organization. He continue in underlining three essential elements a successful team should have.

  • Competence
  • Chemistry
  • Character

All these three elements are tantamount to fit (Miller 2001, p.28). Effective teams and building requires measurement of egos and a team is effective if there is mutual trust and accountability (Don Clark, 2011). A team is a blend of individuals who are following a certain purpose (Mallory, 1991). The use of teams is an instrument to engage organization individuals in an organization. The effectiveness of teams is depending upon a manager who will organize the team and coach them. A case study would be soccer teams where the manager is the coach who give recommendations and orders for enhancing the power of the team (MAICS 2002 p. 15-20). The coach should be someone who should be considered of emotional intelligence and respect the other members as well as have the skills to organize the teams (MAICS 2002 p.15-20). In order for a team to be effective there should be some norms and rules applied to that group by its members and its manager.

A team is different than a group. A group consists of a number of people who may have the same characteristics but a team is a group of people who share the same interests, have the same vision and embrace the same norms. Each one of them may be different but as a team they can cover and fulfil one another (Katzenback, Smith 1991). Goals help the team be aware of the process and be proactive. Delegation is really important between the members of the team. Delegation of responsibility should happen effectively to all members (Clark, 2011). A team should be consists of three important levels in terms of engagement level, the engaged, the not engaged and the actively engaged (Miller, 2011). A great point in considering when we talk about teams is the model of the five dysfunctions of a team (Lencioni, 2002).Lencioni suggested some solutions when a team cannot function together.

Capezio (1991) distinguished 4 types of groups are the following, the natural work, the cross- functional, the corrective and the hybrid. Whereas, Mallory (1991) examined the characteristics of key roles in a team. According to Mallory each team has a dominant, an influencer, a person who balance things and a loyalist. There are some key points to make an effective team such as competent members, collaboration, a support and recognition and trust.

Hackman (2005) developed a model which is based on the solutions, how we manage conflicts in a group and what a successful time requires. Being in a real team acquires time, honesty and trust. The context of the team must be known to everyone as well as they all should go to the shame direction in order to succeed. The role of the leader is really crucial for the effectiveness of the team and as Hackman suggested the coach leader is the most appropriate type of leadership in a team. Zajonc found out two approaches of behavior in a team, the behavior of dominant people who like to present their views and do not listen to the other people’s view and the non-dominant ones. Nickolas Cottrell (1972) suggested ta model for building effective teams which depends on the evaluation process of the teams. Goffman (1959) argues that the main key part that makes a team ineffective is the feeling of the individuals who do not accept failures and acknowledge that they do something wrong or they have not skills. The social interaction theory examines the way that an individual engage social interactions.


Team is a group of people who work together in order to pursuit a specific purpose. Conforming to Mallory citation, team is a collaboration of individuals who work better together for a common purpose. From an early age we all have been a member of a school team, in universities and then in work field. There are many types of teams which serves various purposes such as a school team, work teams, management teams, and task teams. As we see from the professional soccer teams, the team spirit is the first thing that we learn. How to be in a team, what each member does and how the coach guide the team. Likewise in companies each member should acknowledge the power of teams and behave in such a way that they do not harm and disrespect the other members.

What is the difference though between a team and a group? A group is a number of people who feel that they belong somewhere and share the same purpose (Steeven A.Beebe et al, 2014). The group is a more wide meaning whereas a team is a more structured notion of people gathering together and trying together to achieve something. There are many types of groups like family groups, social, study groups, therapy, problem-solving, focus groups. Effective teams are the ones that can be in an environment where trust and communication are the core elements of their interaction.

Effective communication is a part of the effective team performance. Listening is a pivotal element and the performance of the team depends on it. Each member of the group should listen the other members carefully and do not blame the others. When they succeed they celebrate together and not criticize the others. Pride humility is a must for the effectiveness of the team. Each of the member will embrace the cons of the other person and its contribution to the work. How do you achieve the effectiveness of the teams ?At the beginning of the construction of the team an informal meeting must be held in order to get to know the rest of the teams and get familiar with their lives.


There are some phases a team might experience .However, there are not only these phases as many researches have examined this subject. Some people stuck in some phases of the map and don’t know exactly the goal of the team and do not understand the objectives. The phases of the team are the following

  • Orientation Phase
  • Conflict Phase
  • Emergence Phase
  • Reinforcement Phase

These phases consists a map of phases of a team. In the orientation phase, people get to know each other and get the first impressions. As people get to know each other, conflicts may occur. Sometimes conflicts can prove positive to the orchestration of a team but most of the times are proved negative and affect the rest of the team. You reach the emergency phase when a problem occurs and all the team members must act immediately and decide what to do .At the last phase team members get more closely and share common interest. They speak as we and not as I.


The roles in a team are sometimes distinguishable. There is a leader, a critic, an implementer, the coordinator, the evaluator, a specialist according to Meredith Belbin (1993). The role of the leader in a team plays a significant role to the orchestration of a team. The leader (the coach) is the one who gives directions, who help and guide the work of the team. A leader should have the skills and the traits that require its position. The first type of leader is the commander and is one who influence the others but sometimes he can annoy people. The other type of leader is the coach who gives direction to the team as how to do the project and he can enhance the growth of the team. Furthermore, another type of leader is the supporter who help remove barriers in a team and sometimes act like equal with other members. The last type of leadership is that there is no leader in the team and all the members act the same. Any member can make suggestions and make recommendations about a subject. The elements that make a good leader are focusing on the group and the communication and collaboration.


Conforming to Tuckman’s examination of team building who made this investigation in 1965, he pinpoints the first stage that he called it forming.

In this stage people are positive, honest and polite to each other and the roles are not really clear for the first time. The next stage is storming which includes the recognition of roles, cliques are appearing and the needs are made clear. In this stage many teams fail or succeed to be together. The next stage is norming where the goals, objectives, roles and responsibilities are crystal clear to all members of the group. The other stage is performing where all the members are aware of the goals and fight for them altogether as a unit. Tuckman added another stage and called it adjourning or mourning. The formation of a team takes time and follows some stages as the ones above.

People talk about effective teams how to build affective teams but few of them are aware of what a team needs in order to be successful.

  • Clear expectations
  • Context
  • Engagement
  • Competence
  • Charter
  • Control
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creative Innovation
  • Consequences
  • Coordination
  • Connection

The goals of each team as Peter Drucker cited should follow the SMART structure, they must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound in order to be achievable. A team should acknowledge this management acronym in order to succeed in implementing objectives and goals. Sometimes teams encounter problems in achieving the goals. There is a step by step method in order to overcome and find solution to the problems. First of all they have to identify the problem and the issue which arises. Then they have to analyze the issue and set objectives by gathering together. After that they should come and find solutions to the problem and develop alternatives. Then they should select the most appropriate solutions to the problem, evaluate them and act.


The first method we utilized is lecturing. This method has many advantages and disadvantages. It gives the consulter the incentive to control the steps and the procedure and it is really flexible because we can applied to every course and training program. Furthermore it is economical. However, sometimes it is consulter-centered and failed to succeed and can be really boring for the audience. The content of the lecturing should be useful and not boring for the clients. In our consulting session we talked about building effective teams, we cited the types of the teams, the stages of the teams.

The other method we applied is the experiential method which consists of an activity and a video. The video we would like to show to our clients, it is an educational video with a moral meaning of team spirit and the power of teams. This method has also some positive elements and some negative ones. First of all, the activities are a way of communicating and by applying the activities we motivate the clients to get to know some key points of our lecturing. Not every individual has a tendency to like the activities so the consulter should be really careful on how he should deliver the activities. During our presentation we have an activity to give to our clients in order to engage them to our points and key elements and show them the power of team spirit.

The other method is the step by step method. This method is more of an effective one because it summarizes the stages and steps so it is really easy for the audience to understand. This step can be utilized in getting the gist of the solution of the problem and summarizes the clues.

The last method we utilized and the most important method is the interviews. We, as consultants before our implementation of the solution we should interview our clients to gather as much data as we can in order to analyze it and conclude to the solution to the problem. By interviewing each one of the client we take information and examine key points in their communication and interaction with others as well as we get to know them as persons.

Last but not least, every method has its negatives and positives and we must take them into consideration before applying them. We chose to apply the combination of three methods to have the audience attention and to have different variations in our presentation.


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© 2020 christinageorgiopoulou


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