How To Build Effective Teamwork With Limited Resources
Teamwork and distribution center management are complex concepts, particularly in larger university settings. As a professor of operations, I regularly work with larger companies that have limited resources in terms of both staff and technology. In many cases, leaders do not fully understand the concepts involved and are unaware of existing gaps in their own knowledge or the potential for future challenges. As a result, many managers struggle to successfully implement successful strategies in their organizations, while others continue to operate without the knowledge necessary to ensure optimal performance. A solution to this problem is offered by my current university research which examines the key elements that facilitate effective teamwork and distribution centers.
While most managers believe that leadership and teamwork require similar underlying processes, they are actually two different concepts that require different types of inputs. There is a basic assumption that all leaders share similar leadership skills and strive to foster teamwork in their organizations. In reality, however, this is a myth that frequently supports ineffective leaders and practices. As a group of researchers concluded in a recent study, “flexibility is the most important variable in determining the efficiency and productivity of teams”. The authors further noted that leaders tend to focus on communication rather than sharing information and vision, which inhibit collaboration and foster an environment of poor performance and high employee turnover.
The authors also note that managers often “divert” resources to meet short-term goals, at the expense of building long term value. This behavior negatively impacts the organization’s ability to define and attain goals, as well as the ability to achieve maximum performance. For managers, diverting resources can be the most costly short-term cost if it occurs on a regular basis. Teams that don’t receive the attention they need to grow and strengthen will quickly collapse when there is a need to make large changes to the structure or the function of the team, which further decreases its effectiveness. In contrast, leaders cultivate a more stable leadership style that enables them to effectively allocate the right resources to promote performance.
One of the biggest challenges that organizations face today is teamwork, which is often defined as a shared responsibility for achieving a set goal. Unfortunately, many of the approaches to teamwork promote a “blame-game” mentality that blames individual team members for poor performance. As a result, performance suffers and collaboration suffers. Limited resources make this even worse.
A positive leadership model promotes active involvement, particularly from those with the greatest influence over the team. The leaders must be willing to take the blame for mistakes made and be ready to share credit with others. A teamwork leader should recognize the limitations of his/her resources and not expect others to do everything for them. This will make the leader’s role easy and give the team the freedom to try innovative ideas and approach new situations. It will also increase the confidence of the team members and increase performance and productivity.
A second step towards effective teamwork with limited resources is providing clear, detailed feedback on progress and events. A team leader should be able to understand the performance of the team members and the impact of his/her decisions. If there are problems, they should be able to report them in an effective manner, quickly. Provide opportunities for team-building exercises, so that each member knows his/her role in achieving the desired goal. This may include games, activities, challenges, or simple discussions.
Building teamwork with limited resources requires effective communication. Establish regular team meetings, which may be done every week or monthly. Inspirational activities like painting or dancing can help members relate better to each other and develop more productive ideas and decision-making. Team meetings provide an environment in which members can voice their concerns and frustrations without worrying about how they will get across their message.
The best teams are those that are willing to use the collective resources available to solve problems and achieve collective goals. If these resources are not available in a group, the teamwork that occurs will be short-lived. Teams that have the ability to use all available resources to solve problems face greater success than those that don’t.