Organization Finds All Teams Need Regular Attention

Compiled by Tonya Vinas Research has shown the value of empowered teams in manufacturing companies. But even the most sophisticated team structures need constant care and maintenance, according to the non-profit Work In America Institute (WAI), Scarsdale, N.Y. "Effective teams or 'dream teams' are the keystone of high-performance work systems," says Jill Casner-Lotto, vice president for policy studies at WAI. "Yet, we are finding that even the most innovative companies with experience in teams need help in applying team concepts and sustaining teams over time." After several of the group's members reported problems with teaming, WAI formed a teaming national advisory council consisting of managers, union officials, consultants, and academic experts. The council has met several times to hear case studies and discuss research on the topic. Other activities are planned, but the council has released a list of common strategies used by companies that have achieved team success. These are:

  • Up-front investing in training, building values, and pre-screening of employees pays big dividends.
  • A clear focus on mission, tasks, and performance is vital.
  • A company must realize that a team-based work system is not always the right answer.
  • A true team may not have a leader, but every team needs leadership. The council plans to continue its research. For related news and activities, including a team-related site visit in November, contact WAI.
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