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Teamwork Theories

Teamwork Theories: the STAR Team Model

There are numerous teamwork theories all with features to commend them, but how do you decide which might help in getting teams to work effectively?

For example it would be helpful to know the answer to the following questions:

  • How do teams develop?
  • Where do you need to place your emphasis as a leader to develop a team?
  • How does the leader’s role vary as a team develops?
  • What needs to be put in place to help teams work in their context and surrounding?

To help answer these questions we bring together three strands of teamwork theories in our own model, the STAR team model:

  • Firstly ideas about the stages of team development (stages).

The best known of which is Tuckman’s model which we discuss in our article: teamwork theory.

  • Secondly, leadership theories for teams, particularly situation specific leadership, which varies at different stages of the team development. (situation)
  • Thirdly theories that relate to the context and environment of teams and teamwork, recognizing that teams don’t exist in isolation; they are affected by many outside factors. (surroundings)

STAR Team Model

The Star team model provides the substance (or content) to the stages, situation and surroundings of the teamwork theory mentioned above. It helps to determine what a team and team leader need to focus on.

Teamwork theories

As we suggested in our article: teamwork in the workplace:

“Good team leadership is about creating the conditions that allow ideas and people to flourish, people to come together and performance to flow. When you balance developing people’s strengths, with building good relationships and connections between people, in the pursuit of challenging and meaningful team goals you are moving a long way towards encouraging effective teamwork in the workplace.”

The STAR team performance model brings together teamwork theories with some of the main principles of the happy manager. Focusing on individual strengths particularly when in the pursuit of goals that are meaningful to make a difference is a crucial building block for being happier. It’s a similar story with our relationships and “connectedness” to others. The strengths of our relationships have repeatedly been found to be the strongest links to finding happiness in life.

So there is a good chance that developing this kind of teamwork in the workplace will also create a happier place to work.

Effective teamwork in the workplace happens when:

  • Individuals flourish as they use and develop their Strengths. This is a focus on individual strengths and identifying where an individual’s best contribution can be made.
  • People come together building relationships and as they work together well results in effective Teamwork.
  • When individual strengths and teamwork come together in pursuit of meaningful goals then performance starts to flow naturally and Results that are meaningful and rewarding to the team are achieved.

Team leaders need to ensure that they Align the strengths of individuals, with effective teamwork and a focus on meaningful Results. This forms the basis of our model for effective teams; we call it the STAR team performance model (Strengths, Teamwork, Alignment, Results). We think it can help create the conditions for effective teams and a happier workplace.

A Wider Perspective

The balance and emphasis between strengths, teamwork and results will vary for different stages of team development. The STAR team performance model thus can act as a guide to leaders by recognising that different aspects of the model will need emphasising at different stages of the team development cycle.

For example during the initial phase of team formation it is important to develop the purpose of the team, and clarify the results expected of the team, alongside of course developing the other two other areas

However, a wider perspective is needed: team leaders and their teams not only have to be aligned, but the team also needs to be aligned to surrounding factors outside the team. For a team to be effective the environment within which it is situated must also be considered.

There are three outside elements we feel need to be assessed to help teams to be effective:

  • Other teams: The role of team members and the team leader in building networks outside of their own team is crucial as the effectiveness of one team may well be dependent on the performance of another team.
  • Organisation -How does the team link more widely in the organization: are structures, systems and support in place?
  • Outside factors – How does the team interact with customers, partners, suppliers and competitors?

We think the principles of creating a happier workplace when combined with the three strands of teamwork theories begin to develop a more comprehensive team performance model.

If you do have the time to read more on this topic, why not go to our teamwork articles. 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.

Putting Teamwork Theories to Work

This is one of the articles in our teamwork series. But for some practical tips on teamwork theories, look at our great-value guides (below), or at our Team Building Exercises for all team stages teams…

Team Building Exercises and Team Stages

The exercises in this guide are grouped according to our team stages model. Remember, each team is unique and needs to be led through several developmental stages. These include:

Creating a new team or taking over an existing team

Exercises for all team stages!

  • Exercise 1: Being a TEAM together
  • Exercise 2: True or false
  • Exercise 3: Who does what in a team?
  • Exercise 4: Getting the mix right
  • Exercise 5: Doing something for the first time
  • Exercise 6: Two years from now

Developing a team

  • Exercise 7: A clearer vision
  • Exercise 8: Mad, sad or glad
  • Exercise 9: Seeing the bigger picture
  • Exercise 10: Positive feedback
  • Exercise 11: Conflicting views

Performing and achieving results with a team

  • Exercise 12: Did you notice?
  • Exercise 13: Limiting beliefs

Sustaining team performance

  • Exercise 14: Scarce resources
  • Exercise 15: Keeping going

Where to go from here:


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