High Performance Team
Essay Preview: High Performance Team
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Felix E. Rivera
September 12th 2005
This paper will explain how a group within an organization becomes a high-performance team. It will also examine the impact of demographic characteristics and cultural diversity on group behavior. The paper will try to describe how demographic characteristics and cultural diversity contribute to, or detract from high-performance teams.
There are a number of elements that are necessary for the creation of any team. These include: two or more individuals, a common team goal, and the necessary resources of time, materials, space, and perhaps money needed to accomplish and then sustain the goal. High Performance teams learn and demonstrate behaviors that are not exhibited by most teams. In most organizations teams are formed to either make decisions or implement decisions. High Performance Teams are expected to both decide how change is to occur, and implementing the change. High Performance Teams need to take this dual role into consideration and choose both individuals who are thought to be leaders and influencers in the organization and individuals who have varied backgrounds and experience. While High Performance Teams can be implemented to achieve any significant business purpose, they are most often formed to achieve dramatic improvements within the processes. However, High Performance Teams need to take into consideration the effects demographics, and cultural diversity will have on the overall success of the team.
From Group to High Performance Team
Three key characteristics of High Performance Team building involve trust, respect, and support. Support involves actively keeping an eye on the other team members and demonstrating a willingness to help each other out when help is needed. High Performance teams are always conscious of quality and strive to improve the quality of their teamwork as well as the quality of their output. A common practice for High Performance Teams is to have a leader or manager. The team leader is responsible for teaching team building behavior. Leaders are also helpful in making certain that the team receives guidance and training as needs arise.
Organizations decide to assemble High Performance Teams for different reasons. There are times when organizations are strong in some areas, but very weak in others. A successful organization, who strives to be strong in every aspect of how they run their business, will recruit the right team members from different areas within their organization, and empower them with authority and responsibility. The hope is that when these teams are formed, that they live up to their promise of higher productivity and greater problem solving ability.
The U.S. Armys Special Forces is the epitome of a High Performance Team. Special Forces Teams are made up of individuals who specialize in guerilla warfare. They are paratrooper qualified, with high security clearances, trained in infiltrating enemy controlled territory, and organize local dissidents for guerilla training. Just like High Performance Teams of civilian organizations, Special Forces team members have to be familiar with each others jobs so that if a team member is lost, then the next man can move in and finish it. No other entity of the Army does this. There are variations of this team, like The Army Rangers, and Delta Force. However, they too are teams formed for a specific area of operation.
They key to building a High Performance Team is the personnel chosen. They have to be the best in their area, they require little if any supervision, they make sound and timely decisions consistently, and most important they have to be able to trust, support, and respect their team members. When the right people are chosen, the organization should see a vast improvement in productivity, and an increase in problem solving ability where little or none was present.
“A healthy organization is one in which an obvious effort is made to get people with different backgrounds, skills, and abilities to work together toward the goal or purpose of the organization. While we have not accomplished this at a societal level, it is achievable at an organizational level.” (John Bruhn, Pennsylvania State University, 1996). Very few organizations in the United States have become effective in incorporating culturally diverse backgrounds, skills, and abilities in their organizational culture. People from different cultural groups in the U.S. have different perspectives, manifested in their values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Organizations, if they dont do so already, should use this to their advantage. University of Michigan professor Taylor Cox suggests four reasons why becoming an effective culturally diverse organization is important. “It enhances the creativity and problem solving abilities of the organization”, “It is morally, ethically, and socially the right thing to do”, “It affects performance of minority group employees”, and “It is a legal requirement” (Taylor Cox, 1994).
Once an organization achieves cultural diversity, previously untapped talent and energy will be focused on achieving organizational goals. It is economically advantageous for an organization to allow diversity to flourish within. In the U.S., equal opportunity is supported through the Civil Rights Act, Equal Pay Act, Age Discrimination Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act, to name a few. Most importantly, cultural diversity will result in better service to an ever changing clientele.
In the Army, no matter where a soldier is stationed or what his or her job is, they will encounter cultural diversity. A soldier can never say “Im sure glad Ill be stationed in North Carolina. There are more people of my kind there.” That never happens. A soldier usually belongs to a team. Within that team, and just like High Performance Teams of the civilian sector, there are people from different