Managing Groups and Teams/Team Inclusion

Introduction of Best Members for Team Inclusion


How can teams include the "best" members and what does "best" mean in selecting members? What key attributes, skills, competencies, etc, should be looked for in selecting team members, which ones can be sacrificed?

When selecting team members, it is important to select the “best” team members. “Best” in this circumstance could be defined as the right team members with the necessary skills and abilities to function together as a team. However selecting the best team members can be very difficult. Thus it is important to have a process in place to assist in team selection. The proper selection will lead to better inclusion.

If you are not included in a team that you consider will get a benefit with your inclusion, here is presented some steps that can help you to approach the situation.

What Is the Process of Member Selection?


What process should be followed in order to select team members, or should a formal process exist?

The Process should exist, but be somewhat flexible. Flexibility is important to allow for small change within each organization. The three step process as defined below can be used as a foundation for a process.

Identify goal or team purpose

Defining a clear goal is important so the group understands what it is trying to achieve. Without a clear goal or purpose, the team may not be able to identify when the task has been completed or finished. With a clear goal, the team can unify and focus on the objectives rather than determine what the objectives should be.
It is important to establish a timeline for group selection as well as project finish date (the project finish date may be defined as ongoing or indefinite). While selecting the "best" members of a group, one must not loose track of the date by which the group must be formed.

Identify Group Needs

Identifying experience is important for group confidence. Experience in particular areas can help the group identify with individuals and allow individuals to shine in their appropriate areas.
Identify attributes that are important to your project as this can either help or hurt the group cohesion. Identifying whether potential members are aggressive, passive, compassionate, dedicated, or motivated can directly influence the speed and accuracy of the completion of team objectives. It is important to have a well rounded team so they can effectively challenge and complement one another.
Specialty interest
Identify passions or non-passions. Identifying individual passions or non-passions can help identify an individual's motivation. If a team member does not care about the outcome of the project, their motivation and contribution may be limited. On the other hand, someone with extreme passion may be overbearing and inhibit team success. Finding individuals with the appropriate interest levels must be balanced.
The necessary skill level is important so highly skilled individuals aren’t bored with the project at hand. However it is important to have appropriately skilled individuals to be able to accomplish the task at hand.
Are ideas going to be challenged? This question is important. If you have a group of individuals that behave in the same manner, will the ideas presented in the group environment be challenged sufficiently to be identified as the best possible solution or end product? Allowing individuals to be challenged, or defend particular point of views can allow healthy collaboration. However with personalities that are overbearing and domineering it can lead to a very “unsafe” group environment. This can lead to other problems like group polarization.

Identify Possible Team Members


The third step in the process is to identify individuals who may fit within the team. Identify the “best” team members according to the group needs and the defined goal, so the group has appropriate motivation and does not stagnate.

These three steps are starting points to form the “best” team. Following these three processes can allow a group to be interdependent on each other to complete group tasks. Not only can interdependence help the group work together, it fosters a sense of inclusion, because every group member feels that she is needed. As well, a simple process identifying the “best” individuals can help a group overcome stereotyping, social loafing, group process loss.

Team Relationships


To what extent should interpersonal relationships dictate who is included?

It is very important to understand interpersonal relationships to create the best team. The different relationships in a team can destine it for failure or success, so it is very important to consider each person who is part of a team. Also, depending on the task or goal of a team, there may be better types of relationships for that team. A team's sense of inclusion and interpersonal relationships can be improved with training and experience.

In order to answer the posed question, it is important to understand what is involved in interpersonal relationships. These relationships are as diverse as there are different types of personalities. Every person has a personality that has been shaped by years of experiences. Some are very aggressive and others very relaxed. There are outspoken people and quiet people, analytical and qualitative, and many others. All of these things are important in understanding how team members will handle different situations and problems that they will face in a team. A good team facilitator will quickly pick up on the different team member’s skills and personalities and then use this information to make the team effective.

The qualities of relationships that are the best for teams to be effective include being productive, having mutual understanding, and being willing to be self corrective. These things need to be evaluated in who is picked for a team.

A team needs to be productive, and therefore the relationships within a team need to be productive as well. When all team members are included and involved in the team process, the team becomes very productive. We have all probably been assigned to teams that were too large and where it did not feel like your individual effort mattered. When teams get too large, there is no longer a mutual need for the input of every member. Despite having information or skills that the team needs, individuals may no longer put as much effort into a project when there are too many members, what we call social loafing. Also in large groups, members tend to have a perception of “someone else will go it”, so there is no need to be assertive. There usually are a number of members that will no longer participate and feel like their time is being wasted. Having too large of a team is a common way to lose the inclusion of all members.
Mutual understanding
Maybe you have been part of a team where certain members took over and made it harder for others to be involved. Some members are reluctant to express conflicting ideas depending upon who is involved or in charge of the meeting. Overly aggressive members can really stifle a team’s creativeness and productivity. The mutual understanding and focus on a group task gets demoted by the over aggressiveness or ego of someone who dominates a team. When everyone in a team feels free to contribute, the mutual strength of the team increases. So it is important to pick team members with relationships that will create a collaborative environment.
Self corrective
When selecting members of a team it is good too look at each individual’s skills in communicating with others and their ability to work with others. Depending upon the type of problem to be solved by a group or team, there may be a need for homogeneity, or a need for great diversity. In teams where everyone has very similar backgrounds, values, and personalities, there is very low risk of conflicts. These teams also tend to be more likely to make mistakes and to not explore all of the possibilities in solving problems. They can have a hard time finding their mistakes and correcting them. Teams that have a large difference in personality and background tend to have much more conflict and less cooperation. Despite these challenges, these teams can be very effective in solving challenging issues, even relationship issues. One key to making diverse teams be productive is to create a collaborate environment and keep the team focused on the goal or task of the group. Diverse teams that understand the value of conflict resolution and the value of their diversity, can be self correcting and ease the burden of a team leader or facilitator. Good team skill training and time together with a team can really help diverse teams.

The interpersonal relationships in a team are keys to being successful. So to what extent should they dictate who is included? To a large extent! A good manager will try to understand the different personalities in his organization and be able to include those in teams that can be the most productive in resolving an issue or reaching the team goal.

Being Part of a Team


If you are not included in a team that you think could benefit from you being included, how do you approach the team leader and/or existing team members to be included, or should you at all?

If you are not included in a team that you consider you should be, the best thing to do is to present your concerns to your team leader, your supervisor or manager. From my own experience, you can proceed according with the following steps that have helped me through my last 10 years of work experience:

  1. Request a meeting
  2. Present your concern
  3. Present your point of view
  4. Discuss the answers to questions
  5. Conclude the meeting
  6. Follow up

As part of a team, we need to have an open and honest communication not only with our managers and supervisors, but also with our team leader and co-workers. Communication is the key to success. Communication is more than talking to others or writing e-mails or letters, it also includes the art of “listening”. Also I will explain in detail each of what I call “my golden key to success” in this type of situation:

  1. Request a meeting: Is a good idea to request a meeting, especially with superiors, because usually they are busy and you will want to capture all of his/her attention. When you request a meeting, you can be sure that the other person will pay attention to your concern. Usually this type of meeting doesn’t last very long. Remember that our bosses are busy. A half hour to an hour will be enough.
  2. Present your concern: Don’t be afraid, present your concern. Be open and honest. Ask why you were not considered. The majority of the times you will be surprised that a) there was not a reason behind their decision not to include you on the team, they just didn’t think about you or b) you can realize the reason behind the decision. At this point, you will have the opportunity to clarify the perception or you can ask how you can perform better or in a different way in order to be considered in future projects.
  3. Present your point of view and the reason(s) why you consider yourself to be a great asset to the team: If the reason is they didn’t think about you, sell yourself and present your ideas. Showing them that you have the experience and knowledge, as well as the skills and background that can benefit the team selected. If you are still not considered, at least they will have an idea of who you are and it will be a possibility in the future that they will select you. Remember: be clear, concise and simple.
  4. Discuss the answers to questions: Be prepared to defend your ideas, also to answer questions. Usually the other person just wants to better understand your point of view. Other times they just want to know if you really have the knowledge and the experience that you said you have. Don't be afraid to sell yourself and tell them about your experience and knowledge. An excellent way to do this is telling stories.
  5. Conclude the meeting: Always conclude the meeting on a positive note. Most of the times a diplomatic conversation is more valuable and can open other opportunities.
  6. If necessary, always follow up the conversation: If after the meeting you get a possibility to be included in the team, always follow up the conversation to show that you are interested.

As a lesson: Always confront the conflict, never avoid it. Be a peacemaker and not a peacekeeper. An article called “ Avoiding Conflict at any cost” recommends that we should confront the situations and not be afraid to express our feelings. If you truly believe that you should be included in a team, express your concerns.

Managing Inclusion


How do teams effectively deal with changes in team member inclusion?

Changes to the makeup of an existing team can be very disruptive especially if that team is an effectively functioning group. By changing the group membership of an effective team you can cause them to redirect their focus from the tasks and processes at hand, to having to focus on relationships, which can quickly turn that team into an ineffective unit. When changing the membership of a team, there are certain measures which both the existing team and the new members should consider in order to make for a smooth and successful transition.

Suggestions for Existing Team Members

Anytime someone joins a new group they are coming in as an outsider. Entering into an existing team situation may stifle that person's ability to be effective and to focus on the task at hand. It is the responsibility of the existing team members to socialize with the new member, help them feel that they belong, let them know that they have a valid voice and that they can and should contribute just as much as any other member of the team.
It will also be necessary for the existing team members to educate the new member on the history of the team. This includes helping them to learn about and understand the goals of the team, and to learn about the progress which has been made. This will include learning about the obstacles that have been overcome and the obstacles which now lay before them. This is also a good opportunity to let the new member know what everyone's role is on the team and what the new member's role should be.

Suggestions for New Team Members

Whenever a team is created there will be several key roles which must be filled. These roles can include; Controller, Adviser, Creator, Organizer, Producer and several others. When someone joins an existing team they should determine which roles are already filled, which are vacant, and how their skills can best fit into one of these vacancies.
A new member must be proactive in their education. They will need to be proactive in learning what has been addressed and what has yet to be addressed. They can’t be shy about asking questions. In addition, the new member must realize that they are an asset and important part of the team. They possess a different perspective which is unique from the rest of the team because of their skills and experience which may benefit the entire team. If they don’t speak up, they may be holding up the progress of the team.

How To Lead for Team Inclusion


From leader’s perspective, what are the ways to insure full participation/inclusion/contribution of team members? How does the leader or other team members insure the involvment of a passive and uninterested team member?

Every team consists of different individuals with different personalities, background and values. Some team members are more active than others, some contribute more than others, some are more motivated than others. To ensure a viable and effective team, a team leader must make sure that every team member participates, contributes and feels as part of the team.

Put yourself in his/her shoes
In order to influence the behavior of a team member, a team leader must first understand that team member. In order to do so, one should understand the background and values of each team member. Acknowledging the fact that each team member is different will show respect and consideration. In addition, understanding the values will help to identify what kind of things a certain person would cherish or neglect. Values come in handy when a leader needs to use motivation. Overall, the objective of the leader in this step is to get to know his/her team members, in other words, a leader needs to to think as a team member does.
Motivation is perhaps the most important factor to ensure effective inclusion of team member. The foundation of recognition and motivation is that people need and want acceptance, approval and appreciation. Almost all positive motivation is based on these needs. People want to know that what they do makes a difference. Just recognizing the staff is the most important step one can take. In addition to financial rewards, there are number of other ways that can be effectively utilized. One of them is to reward the team members for their contributions to the team. A gift certificate or a free dinner might go a long way. The recognition given for work that is well done and public praise will also strengthen the sense of importance and belonging to the team.
Build Confidence
Part of the reason that a team member will not fully contribute could be the lack of confidence in self and his/her abilities to perform the job. A leader's duty is to notice and take steps to improve the behavior of the team member. Even though building self-confidence is a personal matter and a leader may have little influence over it, a leader should be able to identify the strengths of team players and build on those. One way to do it is to delegate responsibilities with freedom to think and act. It is also important to remain fair and impartial as slight advantage given to one member over the other may hinder the progress and undermine the efforts of some team members. Accentuating the positives is another tool a leader should continually keep in his or her arsenal.
Ensure collaborative climate
Lastly, the team's ability to effectively collaborate, share data and insight in open and positive climate will affect the degree of participation of its members. Non-judgmental attitude void of team politics is an essential ingredient to building such climate in teams. In addition, a team leader should should be able to establish open and direct relationship with a passive or uninterested team member and encourage other team members to do the same.

Motivation · Glossary