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Fostering Teamwork

Fostering Teamwork is the ability and desire to work cooperatively with others on a team; as a team leader, interest, skill, and success in getting groups to work together cooperatively.
Behaviors for Team Members:
  • Listens and responds constructively to other team members' ideas
  • Offers support for others' ideas and proposals
  • Is open with other team members about his/her concerns
  • Expresses disagreement constructively (e.g., by emphasizing points of agreement, suggesting alternatives that may be acceptable to the group)
  • Reinforces team members for their contributions
  • Gives honest and constructive feedback to other team members
  • Provides assistance to others when they need it
  • Works for solutions that all team members can support
  • Shares his/her expertise with others
  • Seeks opportunities to work on teams as a means to develop experience and knowledge
  • Provides assistance, information, or other support to others, to build or maintain relationships with them
Behaviors for Team Leaders:
  • Provides opportunities for people to learn to work together as a team
  • Enlists the active participation of everyone
  • Promotes cooperation with other work units
  • Ensures that all team members are treated fairly
  • Recognizes and encourages the behaviors that contribute to teamwork
Importance of this Competency
Fostering Teamwork is a critically important competency. Increasingly in organizations, important work must be done by teams. Teamwork is becoming more important in natural work units, as organizations attempt to empower their work forces. There are fewer supervisors, and their role is changing from an emphasis on direction and control to an emphasis on facilitation of self-directed teams. In addition to natural work units, which need teamwork to function effectively, important tasks are assigned to cross-functional teams, comprised of persons with the right combination of skill sets to accomplish the task.

Everyone needs to be able to work constructively as a team member, and many people need to develop the skills of team leadership.
General Considerations in Developing this Competency
The best way to learn about teamwork is to work on an effective team with an effective team leader. In addition, books on teams and team leadership are also useful. If you are leading a team, it may be helpful to seek advice and coaching from others with extensive experience leading teams.
Practicing this Competency
As a team member, you can:
  • Listen to others’ ideas and proposals
  • Support others’ ideas and proposals
  • Suggest an idea that builds on someone else’s idea
  • Express disagreement constructively (e.g., “What I like about Bob’s idea is...., and I wish there was a way to.......”)
  • Be open with other team members about your concerns
  • Recognize and reinforce the contributions of other team members
  • Give honest and constructive feedback to other team members
  • Work for a solution that everyone on the team can support
  • Offer to help others on the team
  • Provide assistance when other team members ask for it
As a team leader, you can:
  • Create a team to tackle an important task
  • Enlist everyone’s active participation
  • Ensure that all team members are treated fairly
  • Recognize and encourage the behaviors that lead to teamwork
  • Learn about a team problem solving or decision making method and bring it to the team
  • Ensure that there is a clear agenda for each team meeting
  • Facilitate the group process so that the team accomplishes its agenda
  • Ensure that the team has a plan with specific action steps that specify what will be done, by whom, and by what dates
  • Provide constructive feedback to team members, regarding their team participation
  • Periodically ask the team to reflect on its own behavior and to identify what it is doing effectively and less effectively and what it needs to do to become more effective
Obtaining Feedback
Ask one or two team members or the entire team to give you constructive suggestions for improving your team behavior. Possible questions include:
  • What am I doing that is helpful and constructive?
  • What am I doing that is less constructive?
  • What could I do more of that would make me more effective as a team member?
Ask someone to observe you at a team meeting and to provide suggestions to help improve your team performance.
Learning from Experts
Join a team that is led by a skilled team leader. Observe this person and take notes on what this person does that seems effective. Notice how this person:
  • Prepares for team meetings
  • Keeps the meeting to its planned agenda
  • Helps the team select and implement processes for problem solving, planning, and decision making
  • Gives feedback to team members
  • Recognizes and reinforces behaviors contributing to teamwork
  • Deals with disagreement and conflict
Interview a skilled team member. Ask this person what he/she does to lead a team effectively. Ask for specific examples. If you are planning to try something new with a team, ask for suggestions and advice.
Coaching Suggestions for Managers
If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop the compentency, you can:
  • Help this person get onto a team led by a skilled team leader.
  • Model effective team leader behaviors yourself.
  • Sit in on a team meeting, observe the person, and provide constructive feedback afterwards.
  • Make yourself available to talk to the person about what is happening on his/her team and to provide suggestions.
Sample Development Goals
For a Team Member:
  • At the team meeting on October 26, I will reinforce the contributions of three other team members.
  • At the team meetings on November 11 and 15, I will try to express disagreement in a constructive way. After the meeting, I will ask another team member for feedback about how well I did this.
  • At the team meeting of December 2, I will facilitate the team’s development of an action plan for implementing the new accounting procedures.
  • I will ask Jane Louden to observe my team behavior over the next three team meetings (through December 16) and give me feedback and suggestions on my team behavior.
  • By January 12, I will read The Team Handbook: How to Use Teams to Improve Quality, by P. Scholtes, identify a set of ideas to use on our Manufacturing Quality Team, and present these ideas to the team.
For a Team Leader:
  • At the next team meeting, set for October 10, I will ask for everyone’s ideas on the commercialization proposal.
  • By February 4, I will read Effective Group Problem Solving, by William Fox, and try out the group problem solving method he suggests with the Market Analysis Team.
  • By October 30, I will interview Dave Wellin about the things he has done to manage teams effectively.
  • By March 4, I will hold a meeting with my team at which I will ask for feedback and suggestions about what I can do to be more effective as a team leader.
  • By May 15, I will read 50 Activities for Team Building, by G. Parker and R. Kropp, identify several team building activities to try out with the Distribution Team, and try out at least two team building activities. Afterwards, I will ask the team for feedback on each activity.



Building Teams, Building People: Expanding the Fifth Resource, Second Edition, by Harvey Thomas R. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Education, 2004.

Creating Effective Teams: A Guide for Members and Leaders, by Susan A. Wheelan. Thousand Oaks: CA, Sage Publications, Inc., 2009.

Creative Collaboration: Simple Tools for Inspired Teamwork, by Bruce Honig. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications, Inc., 2003.

Group Dynamics for Teams, by Daniel J. Levi. Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks: CA, 2011.

High Performing Teams In Brief, by Michael Colenso. Woburn, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann, .1997

Improving Work Groups: A Practical Manual for Team Building, by Dave Francis & Don Young. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer,.1992

Instant Team Building (Instant Success), by Bradley J Sugars. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances, by J. Richard Hackman. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, 2002.

More Quick Team-building Activities for Busy Managers: 50 New Exercises That Get Results in Just 15 Minutes, by Brian Cole Miller. New York, NY: AMACOM/American Management Association, 2007.

Team Building: Proven Strategies for Improving Team Performance, by William G. Dyer, William Dyer, Jr., Jeffrey H. Dyer, & Edgar H. Schein. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2007.

Team Workout: A Trainer's Sourcebook of 50 Team-Building Games and Activities, by Glenn Parker & Richard P. Kropp. Amherst, MD: HRD Press, 2001.

Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong, by Carl E. Larson & Frank M. J. Lafasto. London: Sage Publications Inc., 1989.

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork Workbook: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team, by John C. Maxwell. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2003.

The Performance Factor: Unlocking the Secrets of Teamwork, by Pat MacMillan. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishing Group, 2001.

The Team Handbook, Third Edition, by Barbara J. Streibel, Brian L. Joiner, & Peter R. Scholtes. Madison, WI: Oriel Incorporated, 2003.

The Wisdom of Teams, by Jon Katzenbach & Douglas Smith. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2003.

Self Study Courses

Making Teams Work.  American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. http://www.amaselfstudy.org/course.cfm?isbn=9780761213475

How to Be an Effective Facilitator. American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. http://www.amaselfstudy.org/course.cfm?isbn=9780761214113

How to Build High-Performance Teams. American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. www.amanet.org/selfstudy/b13759.htm

How to Manage Conflict in the Organization. American Management Association. Tel.  800 250-5308. www.amanet.org/selfstudy/b13872.htm



Appreciative Team Development. Four days. NTL Institute. Tel. 800 777-5227. http://www.cvent.com/events/appreciative-inquiry-team-development-september-24-28-2012/eventsummary-1e80c4186e734995b7851264d7c570ad.aspx

Seven different team development workshops. American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. http://www.amanet.org/site-search-results.aspx?search_terms=team

Excelling as a Highly Effective Team Leader. Two days. SkillPath Seminars. Tel. 800 873-7545. www.skillpath.com/seminfo.html/C/Man/st/CTS2

Leadership and High-Performance Teams. Five days. Center for Creative Leadership. Tel. 336 545-2810. www.ccl.org/leadership/programs/LHPTOverview.aspx?pageId=828

Leading Effective Teams  - Communicating with Your Teammates. One day. MRA - The Management Association, Inc. Tel. 800 679-7001.  http://www.mratraining.com/ClassSearchResults.asp



See Appendix