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Teamwork ~ Kicking It Up a Notch


Daniel P. Woodring
Daniel P. Woodring, President, Performance Plus Technologies, Cincinnati, OH 45069, 513-779-3439,

85th Annual International Conference Proceedings - 2000 

Abstract: The study of and a basic understanding of the changes affecting the culture in which we live and do business is critical to devising the strategy to assure success in the future. The emerging cultural paradigms of today are demanding key business strategies that revolve around team based or team oriented operations. This presentation looks at the basics of enhancing personal and organizational effectiveness through team based or team oriented operations...and if teams are in place, how to kick it up a notch. As managers we must fully comprehend the basics of teamwork, what it is, why have it, what it will do for the business, and most importantly, building a compelling case for the benefits to the employee. Next, we must build teamwork skills and competencies throughout the entire organization. And as purchasing professionals we must be in tune with the evolving cross-functional teaming model that will drive customer based operations in 2000 and beyond.

2000 and Beyond ~ What Are The Demands (changes) Facing Us? The full cultural paradigm or picture must be analyzed and understood so that an integrated strategy can be implemented. The full picture consists of understanding situational changes in the following cultural categories:

  • The world culture...such as world economics and global competition
  • The organizational culture...such as the changing workforce and scarcity of required skills
  • The customer culture...such as higher demands for quality, service, and pricing
  • The employee culture...such as the need for more challenging and rewarding work

We must recognize and act toward the cultural paradigm shift taking place before our very eyes.

The Fundamentals of Teamwork ~ Embracing a Team Oriented Culture. A look at our changing environment and the demands that will require team-based operations require a basic knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of teamwork.

What is a team? Specific insights and discovery lead us to embrace the word "collaboration". And because of the changes in the cultural maze, we have moved from a focus or need for independent operations to one of "interdependent". Interdependent operations require team oriented structures to make it work.

As to the kinds of teams; when deciding on the structure and use of a natural work group team, project team, s.w.a.t. team, or any other form of team, give thought and consideration to what is best suited to the situation.

The key to success in teams is building high involvement through trust, communication, participation, and commitment.

Team Skills and Competencies ~ Where Do You Stand? The ultimate skills or competencies, team based operations or not... is to be able to make great decisions and solve problems permanently. Is there a formal process in your organization to accomplish this?

Beyond these two critical skills lies a vast chasm of skills and competencies that drive making great decisions and solving problems permanently. Most of these skills are "interpersonal" skills. How does your team rate in leadership, understanding behavioral styles, active listening, assertive communications, giving feedback, coaching, conflict resolution, and running great meetings. A critical assessment should be conducted for the individual, department and strategic business unit.

Cross Functional Teams and the Evolving Purchasing Model. Many businesses are organizing the purchasing function based on the customer's organizational view. The customer doesn't see the internal silos. The customer wants to see and be able to touch the processes through the organization; to be able to access sales, service, operations, and delivery, not as silos but as a team dedicated to his wants and needs. What better way to focus on the customer as number one by having purchasing integrated cross-functionally in tandem with the customer? Put on your agenda the task of benchmarking organizations with a strong cross-functional purchasing model.

Teamwork ~ Kicking It Up a Notch. Several points of interest and discovery lie within the concept of "Kicking IT Up a Notch". First is developing a model for changing Quickly with minimal change. This includes answering the three big employee "want to knows." They are:

  • Where is the organization going?
  • What is the plan to get there?
  • What's in it for me ~ the employee

The key to unlocking motivation is communication surrounding the employee "want to knows."

The second discovery point for kicking it up a notch is the power of alignment. To be truly effective (doing the right things) and efficient (doing things right), the organizational systems, organizational culture and the organizational structure must be in alignment...must be in tune with one another...all singing from the same song sheet. Performance must be tied to strategy/vision/mission. Decisions must be made at the lowest possible level. There are strong core values and they must be believed, communicated, and practiced top down and bottom up. This is also the point where core competencies such as leadership, performance management and decision making are practiced and in alignment as a system or process.

Purchasing professionals must play a leading role on capitalizing on the power of alignment.

Feedback and Testimonials: Time is scheduled during the presentation to interactively discuss "barriers to team functioning" and how to address the issues. In addition, participants will be given an opportunity to share on a real basis "what's working out there".

Personal and Organizational Development Systems References:

"High Involvement Teamwork"(tm). Richard Chang Associates, Irvine CA
"Enhancing Team Communications". Performance Plus Technologies, Cincinnati, OH
"The Team Building Workshop". Performance Plus Technologies, Cincinnati, OH

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