Building Human Capability - Globally    
Global Team Development Print E-mail
Companies depend on teams to leverage and improve business processes and accomplish tasks across functional and international boundaries. Organizations field such teams at the board level, and teams reporting to the board; mission-critical merger-integration teams; product-development and clinical-development teams, especially in the pharmaceutical industry where such teams are typically global; action learning sets, which focus on both problem-solving and learning; and multi-cultural teams from various functions responsible for the global alignment of functional business processes. These are just a few of the types of teams that power global businesses.

National culture differences play a role in team and team-leader development and management. The behaviors that define an "effective leader" or "effective team player" differ across borders. The usual issues that plague teams, such as how to resolve conflicts, how to communicate more effectively, how to motivate team members, and how to lead teams effectively, all become more complex with multi-cultural and/or virtual teams.

Time-zone, language, and cultural differences, as well as pressures to meet local priorities and lack of face-to face contact, can pull global teams in different directions. Acknowledging the impact of these factors will create opportunities for discussion of different perceptions and solutions to problems faced by global teams. Companies that leverage cultural differences well can improve creativity and add value to the outputs of global teams.

Through the Team Process Questionnaire System, ITAP supports companies as they develop global teams and global-team leaders for maximum performance. Support can include:
  • Preparing the ground for global team approaches
  • Helping leaders charter global teams for success
  • Measuring team interactions over time and providing interventions or training to support effective team interactions, including those that may be based in cultural differences or the use of technology to communicate - or both
  • Providing senior management with information from teams across the organization to improve fact-based decision-making

Whole Team Support System

Global teams, which represent significant corporate investments, require proactive attention and Global Team Developmentpreventive maintenance. ITAP recommends a whole team support system such as that shown at right. Each of the following is a part of the "whole team support system" approach:

Aligning New Teams within the Organizational Context - This is perhaps the most critical step in insuring team effectiveness, which, in turn, will lead to improvements in approaches and productivity. It has been said that it is impossible to be a productive worker in an unproductive system; similarly, it is difficult for a team to succeed in a system that is not structured for team success.

Developing Team Leaders and Team Members - Effective team leaders and members are not born, they are developed. Learning through experience alone is time-consuming and expensive and ambiguous as to outcomes. Mentoring, development, and/or training are more targeted approaches.
  • Cross-cultural Training and Development. Employees require knowledge, skills, information, competencies, resources, motivation and incentives to perform tasks and will fail to perform tasks to the extent that these elements are missing or less than optimal.
  • Team Leader and Team Member Coaching. Team leaders, teams and individuals on teams can benefit from one-on-one partnership with a specialized consultant who can act as personal coach.
Team Chartering - A key element to team success is to ensure that the appropriate stakeholders are represented on the team. All team members need to have some authority to represent the stakeholders.

Team Analysis and Performance Improvement - Measuring team process & charting against performance. Measuring human process interactions on teams give companies a regular, real-time assessment of what needs attention - to keep track of how teams are progressing and to identify what specific support teams and team leaders need. Measuring team progress against agreed-upon goals is critical to ensuring that timetables are kept and progress continues to be made. Measurement and monitoring of work teams over time is a crucial way for organizational leaders to both support improved team performance and to measure, through the aggregation of such metrics, changes in team performance and, in turn, to relate these measures to bottom line, financial changes. ITAP understands the cultural implications of measurement across cultures and uses culturally-normed tools.

Providing intervention and support over time - Intervention and support of teams over time depends on several factors, including the duration of the team's work and the preferences of the team leader and his or her supervisor. A proactive approach - taking the team's temperature on a regular basis - will identify if and when the team needs intervention and what kind of support is required. Team leaders can use team analysis data for self-development based on the analysis.

Determining team effectiveness and fit - For those internal to the team it is essential that the team's work is connected to the work of the rest of the organization.

Providing top management with data on team metrics and policy effectiveness - Senior executives often manage whole areas that are organized into project teams. In large organizations, there are often many teams doing the same type of work (for example, product development teams may be creating different products but have closely-related team structures and approaches). Senior managers can track team progress over time and compare team progress, identifying best practices, problem areas, and team leader talent.

Tools (to support teams, team leaders and organizational leadership)

ITAP's proprietary tools collect team data. ITAP can perform data analysis and provide comparisons of team data against the ITAP data base. The Global Team Process Questionnaire™ (GTPQ) measures human processes on global teams. The Organizational Team Process Questionnaire™ (OTPQ) has characteristics quite similar to the GTPQ, but is designed for teams with membership from a single country. The Action Learning Team Process Questionnaire™ (ALTPQ) is designed to get inside the group dynamics of action learning sets/teams.

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