Teamwork Concept

The STAR Teams Model

Teamwork Concept

The STAR Teams Model

Our original teamwork concept, the STAR Teams Model, brings together three key strands of teamwork theories: stages; styles and situation analysis.

Developing a teamwork concept involves bringing together ideas and insights to inform and shape the concept. Here we explain the ideas which shaped our STAR teams model, using three distinct strands of teamwork theory. Briefly introduced in our teamwork theories article, these were:

  • Team development stages
  • Team leadership styles
  • The team’s situation, in relation to outside factors that influence team (both within the organisation and in the wider context)
Teamwork Concept: the STAR Teams Model

Star Teams Model

The STAR teams model suggests that effective teamwork at work happens when four elements (Strengths, Teamwork, Alignment and Results) are in place:

  • Individuals flourish as they use and develop their Strengths;
  • People come together building relationships that result in effective Teamwork;
  • The team leader Aligns the team through effective communication of purpose, so that individual strengths combine with teamwork to deliver the teams results;
  • Together everyone achieves more as performance flows and Results that are meaningful and rewarding to the team are achieved.

But how do the three teamwork concepts inform and fit within the STAR teams model?

Teamwork concept STAGES: Team Stages

Team development theories, such as Tuckman’s group development stages, recognise that teams develop through different stages. This provides a progression from initial formation through to performance. Whilst this approach gives a useful understanding of different team requirements at different times, there are a number of questions that aren’t particularly well answered by such models. For example:

  • How should you lead at the different stages of a team’s development?
  • How do you identify when you are progressing through a stage?
  • How does the team develop in the organisational setting?
  • How is it affected by other outside influences?

Group stages theory doesn’t explicitly answer these questions. To do so, and thus to build a more robust teamwork concept, ideas about team leadership and outside factors need to be introduced.

Teamwork concept STYLES: Leadership Styles

The second strand of theories suggests that leadership activity will be different at different stages of the team development. This is a common notion in management studies, that many models are in fact situational, and that the approach adopted should change dependent on the context.

This idea is also common to a number of leadership theories, which suggest leaders should adapt their behaviours and actions according to the situation. For example, contingency or situational leadership models tend to offer a continuum of responses a leader might take. These range from a directive approach, where the leader steers the team, to approaches that tend towards delegation, where team members have much more say about what and how they do things.

Other models recognise different functions of leadership. One well known example is John Adair’s Action-Centred Leadership, which emphasizes that leaders focus on the task, the team and/or the individual. The balance of focus will vary from situation to situation.

In the STAR team model we have brought together some of these theories, highlighting the leader’s role in aligning individual strengths with teamwork, in order to achieve meaningful results. The STAR team model incorporates the idea that a leader needs to behave differently given the different stages of team development. The leader’s focus of attention will vary at different stages of the team’s development.

For example, during the formation of the team it is important to ensure that team members are clear about why they are in the team, and what they are expected to achieve. So the primary focus in this stage will be on results, whilst recognizing that aspects of teamwork and strengths will still need attention. During other stages the focus will switch to the importance of teamwork and strengths.

To further develop our teamwork concept, we combine group/team development and leadership theories to ensure the leader’s input is optimised. This can be done by considering some key questions:

  • Which development stage is your team currently at?
  • What is the most appropriate leadership style for that stage?
  • What activities are best to help your team progress to the next stage?
  • How is your team progressing? Not all teams move seamlessly through the stages and can become stuck or even regress.
  • What external factors are or may affect your team’s progress? How can you deal with or prepare for these?
Teamwork concept SITUATION: Organisational and wider context

Thirdly, teams do not exist in a vacuum; their effectiveness can be greatly influenced by factors external to the team, from other teams, the wider organization and external factors outside the organisation. Whilst group stage theories such as Tuckman’s model provide a useful way to think about how a team develops they place little emphasis on the external environment. Similarly leadership models can too often focus on the leadership needs of the team and not enough recognition is given to the leader’s role outside of the team.

A number of researchers have expanded team theory to include an emphasis on the context within which the team operates. For example Sunstrom and colleagues view teams as embedded within an organization and suggest that team effectiveness is therefore dependent on how the boundaries work between the team and others within that organisation. This organisational context can have a major impact on the team’s development and overall effectiveness.

This raises the importance of the team leader’s role in establishing boundaries, and in ensuring that links between other teams work well. This includes ensuring that the systems and processes in the wider organization support and encourage the effectiveness of the team. Team leaders must therefore be aware that their role is both inward facing, as team developer, and outward facing, as team champion when representing it to its micro and macro environments.

If you do have the time to read more on this topic, why not go to our teamwork articles. To read more of about our teamwork concept – the STAR team model- see our articles teamwork theories, teamwork defined and teamwork in the workplace. For a more general introduction to team a good place to start might be to think through why is teamwork important , or you may want to think about how you define teamwork or reminding yourself of the benefits of teamwork.

Building better teams

Teams e-guidesIf you want to put our teamwork concept into action, you’ll find more information and a wealth of practical resources, in our colossal Team Building Bundle.

Containing 240 pages and 50 tools, these are the 8 key guides we recommend to help you do more than define teamwork, build it!

Why is Teamwork Important
Build a Better Team
The Problems with Teams
Team Health Check
Team Building Exercises
Leading with Style and Focus
What’s the Problem?
Making Better Decisions

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