The Cat – Herding vs. Teamwork

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 11, 2015 in Executive Coaching |

Cat3You may have heard the phrase “managing [x group] is like herding cats.” While a group may exist with shared goals it, like the territorial cat, may not collaborate as a high performing team even if they are familiar with its members. The essence of high performing teams is collaborative independence and participative leadership but the wild cat, while independent, is not known for its teamwork.

All teams are groups, but not all groups are teams. Next time you find yourself herding cats in a group, use these characteristics of cohesive, high performing teams:

  • Members of a high performing team have complementary, yet unique, skills.
  • The team as a strong group identity which can be underlined with special names or methods of identifying the group (such as uniforms/shirts/pins/Internet groups).
  • The members maintain a clear understanding of both the importance of the work, their individual role, and how it relates to overall goal achievement.
  • Members have the authority to act autonomously and with discretion to complete their necessary tasks. This doesn’t mean they aren’t supervised, rather it means they are properly empowered to take risks.
  • Members believe success is achievable as a group and are individually passionate about the results and accountable for their own performance.
  • Members treat each other with respect and sidebar conversations that are dissenting or subversive to the goal.
  • Underachievement, or social loafing, is not tolerated in the team. They establish minimum standards for performance or level of effort and members who are deemed ineffective or disruptive are eliminated.
  • They set their own goals, rules, schedules and norms for behaviors and follow them.
  • Use democratic decision making and leadership is participative.
  • Evenly divide the work space and level of effort.

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