The term labour movement is often applied to any organization or association of wage earners who join together to advance their common interests. It more broadly applies, however, to any association of workers by geographical area, trade or industry, or any other factor. While labour unions have been the almost exclusive centre of the modern labour movement in Canada, United States, Western Europe, and in many other countries, the term labour movement has come to embrace labour-oriented political parties as well as labour unions, usually combined in a loose alliance. In fact, in the 1950s, any member of a union affiliated labour movement would be addressed as a “Teamster”.
In the modern global economy, these more loosely combined alliances, teams, can be seen in every aspect of human life. For today, if one were asked, what he or she thought was a good example of a team? He or she may reply with numerous different answers. To a basketball fan, the Chicago Bulls dynasty would be thought of as the greatest basketball team ever put together. To a Canadian politician, he or she would pick the Liberals as the most successful party/team to ever hold power in Canadian politics. To an animator, the Walt Disney animation group would definitely be thought of as one of the greatest teams. The scientists involved in the Manhattan Project during WWII would have been considered as part of one of the most exclusive scientific teams, in the eyes of a modern day scientist. To a business executive the organizational development in companies like Apple would be considered as a successful teaming up of executives into groups. Finally, to a zoo keeper, hyenas which travel in packs of up to 100 members and have firmly established territories, would be thought of as a great nocturnal hunting team, for alone they are no bigger than a large family dog but together as a team they can take down the king of the jungle, the lion, with out any hesitation. So how do these teams get put together? What makes their members stay focused as a “Teamster”? How do these teams become successful in their goals? To answer these questions one must look into the roots of the principles that build the foundation for these teams, and dig out the most common ones. For as one can see, the members of all these teams are held together by the gratification involved in feeling wanted and needed, intellectually and physically challenged, praised and rewarded, and a part of a greater accomplishment. The result of the combined nature of these principles is the ultimate motivational drive that is seen in those team members, which exhilarates their need to “live to work” and not “work to live”. (Harold J. Leavitt, Hot Groups) During the next few paragraphs these above principles, common to all teams, will be discussed, illustrated through examples and related to the concept of successful team structure.
The world revolves on human interaction, thus, throughout evolution the human race has been striving to overcome all communication barriers, first with the development of language both verbally and physically, later with the development of message delivery both on paper and electronically, and finally with the development of telecommunications including the Internet. One might now ask what was the driving force for this huge evolution in communication. Although the answer could be spread across multiple explanations, the key ingredient is the driving nature for humans to feel a part of society, a part of a greater world not just bounded by what one can see. Since the beginning of time human nature has thrived on acceptance and the need to feel wanted and be wanted, such as a baby to his or her parents or as an employee to his or her boss. For someone who works in a typical nine to five job, which basically consists of completing the tasks assigned within that time, would be almost without purpose unless bills had to be paid and a family was waiting. However, to be in a job where what is required of you is what you have to offer mentally and physically, and that without your support the structure would collapse, would seem a lot more tempting to pursue in everyday that you “live to work”. Perhaps the most innovative organizational restructuring in the corporate world was the evolution of modern day teams. What better structure than the teaming up of employees is there that can motivate in a way that would engrave the minds of those who work with the notion that one should “live to work” and not “work to live”. When one looks at the Chicago Bulls dynasty, one would for certain realize that each player felt that they were needed for their skills and that together there was nothing they could not accomplish. So if it could work for a basketball team why can it not work for a corporate team? The answer is, “it can”, and one just has to figure out how to transfer the driving force that propels a sports team to the successes they achieve, to that of a corporate team. And thus, in order to begin such a transfer one must notice that once teams are created one major principle that is automatically upheld is the intrinsic nature to feel wanted and needed, a definite motivation to “live to work” and not “work to live”. Just like one who works to support a family because he or she is needed to do so and therefore would not want to let their family down, so would that same person as a corporate team member not want to let his or her team down by not elevating the team’s status with his or her needed skills and other capabilities.
When James Watson and Francis Crick, first proposed the double helix as the three-dimensional structure of DNA in 1953, they discovered that the structure consisted of two strands of nucleic acids held together by the complimentary interaction of their constituents, and that although the individual bonds between the constituents are weak, they have a collective strength like that of the teeth of a zipper. Further, what James and Francis failed to realize was that the double helix structure, a Nobel Prize discovery, could be directly applied to the fundamentals in human interaction. For just as the double helix structure consists of the pairing up of complementary subunits, such that each one of them is the predictable counterpart of the other, and that they are aligned in an anti-parallel conformation, effective team members are selected in a way to optimally match up complementary skills, so that one member could have the complete opposite or lacking skill of the other member, the predictable counterpart, in order to fulfill the team’s purpose. (Robbins & Langton, The Wisdom of Teams) Further, just as the DNA double helix model is collectively strengthened by it constituents, the value of an effective team as a whole is greater than the sum of the capabilities of those who compose it. (Robbins & Langton, Asaf Zohar) Thus, it is this complimentary display of skills that allows team members to blossom as unique owners of their talents and much needed qualifications. (Harold J. Leavitt, Hot Groups) For the fact that a minimum amount of skill overlap will be experienced in an effective team will bring about less disruptions due to personal differences and allow each member to expand themselves both physically and mentally, for the trust in their capabilities will be part of the motivational circumstance experienced through their uniqueness as a team member. With the intensity of commitment defined by a team member’s ability to set their own goals, the challenges intrinsically set forth in order to complete the tasks at hand are brought about by the employee team member and not by the superior. The notion that one can entice oneself by setting goals that will both mentally and physically challenge their desires to promote their status, will be completely gratifying on its own. Each member will feel like they are the owners of their tasks at hand and partners in the final accomplishment, a bonding force that will further them as a whole to that of a “Hot Group”. (Harold J. Leavitt, Hot Groups)
The unification within a team recognizes accomplishments as a group effort, where the individual team members will progress only as far as the team as a whole will succeed. For in order to maintain this team cohesion members have to take charge in initiating the progress management. This allows for a rotating facilitator/leader type role. (Susan Caminiti, Robbins & Langton) It is one aspect to not have any superiors directly involved in your work it is another aspect to actually have the chance to act as one. (Stratford Sherman) The chance to act as a facilitator every so often will result in an increase in individual commitments by the team members, and thus an overall increase in team commitments. Although these facilitators do not take charge over each of their member’s tasks, they help insure that tasks are being assigned and performance is monitored. Further, with the role of a facilitator, a team member can be uniquely recognized for their achievements at being a temporary leader. (Susan Caminiti, Robbins & Langton) That is, the success of the team during that assignment or challenge will be strongly weighed by the performance of the current leader. The final result will be praised by all the team members and thus act as a reward in itself for the leader. The team members will have nothing but pride for their accomplishments because what makes an effective group of people a good team is their ability to share “a purpose, performance goals, processes and mutual accountability”. (Robbins & Langton, The Wisdom of Teams) For together, the team members can set aside their personal differences and formulate a working atmosphere based on their commonalities, such as purpose and goals, set forth when they were first developed as a team. Later, the fact that any effective team can look back and compare their present situation and accomplishments to that of their beginning as a new group, would surely be rewarding in the notion that they very well know that it was a long and difficult process to get to their present level of performance as a team. One can definitely see that being part of an effective team is constantly rewarding in itself, for everyday new accomplishments are made, difficulties are overcome and boundaries are superseded.
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” (Albert Einstein)
Perhaps the greatest benefit a team has to offer to its members is the ability to practice a multi-perception of cognition while encountering new modes of learning through the different and various challenges put forth by the team and organization in order to accommodate the constantly changing environment of problem-solving. In order for a team to effectively and efficiently use their complementary skills and talents to solve problems and deliver products and services, they must first learn to adapt to the art of framing and re-framing all perceptions of the challenge at hand while combining the contribution of each member towards a reflective practice until they constantly find themselves learning through exposure to new cognition traits. This exposure will come directly from the proper dialogue between all team members during their team meetings. Thus, an effective team will always have a constant learning atmosphere, where every member is willing to learn and open to new modes of thinking. One must remember that although teams have the freedom of choice and make their final decisions, this aspect allows for a broad range of creativity to be experienced by every member. This exposure to an assortment of creativity allows each member to broaden their minds through their learning objectives consciously and subconsciously, further strengthening the motivational team atmosphere. However, what is of outmost importance, in order to achieve an effective team, the member must engage in “Model II” learning. (Chris Argyris) For in order to incorporate proper team dialogue into team meetings, each member must employ proper listening skills so that every idea is heard and everyone is given the chance to convince their listeners of their proposal, thus allowing for freedom of choice between all team members. (Chris Argyris) Therefore, it becomes more apparent that the members of an effective team find themselves constantly sharing what they have learnt with their team members. This sharing of ideas through effective listening and communicating results in a well developed mutual accountability, for every proposal that is agreed upon was done so without any biases towards a specific team member or out of any form of manipulation. Again, this open form of learning allows for the vast exposure to new modes of innovative thinking by every team member, with the elimination of instability and the addition of inquiry and creativity through proper dialogue within the team. The overall result is the increase in effective and efficient problem solving throughout the success of the team. (Chris Argyris). When one now considers the amount of knowledge and experiences a team member has to gain from working as part of an effective team, via the open learning field set through the team environment, the final results a team succeeds in achieving after every assignment is merely a fraction of the total greater accomplishment realized by every team member at the end of their completed tasks and success as a whole.
Successful teams are far from being randomly constructed. Throughout the years people such as coaches and managers have been trying to build the perfect teams. But what many of them fail to realize is that a good effective team does not require its members to be the cream of the crop, that is, the members chosen or grouped together do not need to express excellent capabilities in the field of their demand. As was previously illustrated, the value of a team is highly based on the way the team members work and collaborate cohesively, and how each member has adapted to focus on their qualities that uniquely sets them apart from the other members, in order to insure proper utility of the complementary skills within the team. With all this effective collaboration between all team members, the success rate of that team would see a constant increase throughout its lifespan. Thus, when teams are put together, it is not who is added to the team but how that individual will work with the rest of the team and how effective will his or her contribution be for the team. With time, an effective team will hopefully develop into a “Hot Group”, where the team environment has incubated into the development of a symbiotic relationship between all team members, that is, every team member trusts and relies on each other to complete what is required of them in a team effort. Not only will every team member gain the personal gratification of feeling needed for who and what they are capable of, but also they will further themselves through intellectual and physical challenges bringing about praise and rewards through every step forward taken. With the constant exposure to new ways of learning and cognition, in addition to new knowledge, each team member will truly feel part of a greater accomplishment than simply the completion of their tasks as a team. Teams are in every field of life, every subject matter, every business entity, everywhere in the world, and with the decreasing boundaries of personal differences such as culture and religion, teams will bring the world into unity, because for every challenge, an individual has nothing to lose by working with others as a team.