Chapter 2. Context: Laying the Foundation for Team Success

We have discovered that successful teams are found in organizations in which senior executives know how and when to emphasize and support teamwork and have well-thought-out strategies for assigning people to work in teams. Unfortunately, most organizations pay only lip service to developing high-performing teams and do little to create an atmosphere that fosters successful teams. In this chapter we will discuss the first “C” of our model: Context. By creating a context for developing effective teams, managers are more likely to achieve the successful team dynamics and team results they desire.

The Context Problem: Why Teamwork Doesn’t Work

Over the years we have surveyed dozens of personnel and human resource managers in both large and small companies and gathered data from hundreds of managers about their organizations’ efforts to improve team performance. Although most report that their companies believe teamwork is important, only about one-third were engaged in a serious effort to initiate team-building practices that would improve team performance. When the managers of the other two-thirds were asked why they didn’t spend much time and effort to improve their teams, they reported the following problems (listed in order of the frequency of response):

  1. I don’t know how to build a more effective team.

  2. I’m concerned that the possible negative effects will outweigh the benefits.

  3. I don’t feel that developing an effective team is ...

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