Kehoe: Individuals who work as a team

THE performance or output of a work group or a team is proportional to the sum of the individual competencies. Teams are made up of individuals who have differing temperaments, differing preferences, needs and wants, differing competencies and differing motivations. So the tricky task for the team or group leader is to foster teamwork while recognising and utilising individual differences and balancing individual needs. That’s a hard ask. Here is a checklist to explore the extent to which your group or team recognises and utilises individual differences. If you have a work group, but not a team, then check which of these are absent. As you review the list, answer these questions – what needs to happen and what could be done better? • You have the autonomy to use your talents and skills to help the team succeed and you do everything you can to utilise them. • You are free to openly express ideas and opinions and they are discussed appropriately. • You are able to do your tasks in your own individual way as long as you produce the results to the required standard. • You have a tolerance within the team to hear opposing opinions and use them effectively. • You change your communication style with one another to ensure you can be ‘heard’. • You have a tolerance for different work styles and use these differences effectively. • You are willing to let the most appropriate person take charge at different times within your team. • You have a willingness and readiness to share leadership within the team. • ‘Off the wall’ and creative ideas are encouraged, expressed and explored for the most effective solution. • You have perseverance within the team so you are able to see things through to the end. • Your ideas are presented assertively and persuasively both within, and external to, the team, ensuring your ideas are supported and resourced. • You are able to clearly express your thoughts so they are understood and fully discussed, allowing the full exploration of individual issues and concerns. • You have the ability to adapt individual roles within the team to gain the most from individual strengths and needs. • Your team climate is one of respect and empathy for individual differences so that within the team your relationships are open and honest. • Changes in the team are dealt with positively and productively – you take into account people’s needs and differences when you implement changes. • Your team policies and values encourage individual uniqueness so that individuals are fully engaged with the team. If you would like information on a system and tools designed to achieve this and much more, see and click on 3. Team Performance.

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