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Last edited 14 Mar 2022
What is a complete team?
Usain Bolt ran the fastest time in 100 metres at the 2009 World Championships in 9.58 seconds. In the 4 x 100 metres relay, Usain Bolt, Steve Mullings, Michael Frater and Ashafa Powell ran 400 metres in 37.31 seconds. This meant that an average runner in the team ran 100 metres in 9.33 seconds. It also meant that Usain Bolt who ran 100 metres individually at 9.58 seconds, the fastest of the team, was able to run 100 metres collectively at 9.33 seconds, 0.25 seconds faster. They were able to perform more collectively than the addition of their individual performances because they were a complete team!
In a game of football, a full team has 11 players, and in a game of basketball, a full team has five players. Can we say that a team with full or whole members is a complete team? Is it logical to conclude that a football team with 11 players will beat another team with 10 players? No. Is the 11-member team a complete team because it has full team members and the 10-member team is not a complete team? No. What then is a complete team? Or what makes a team a “complete team”? A complete team has complementary team members and each member is physically and emotionally on top of their contributions to the team. All complete team members contribute more than their individual abilities due to team synergy or collaboration.
A complete team has team players as members and each member carries the team spirit, is knowledgeable about the team dynamics and believes in team goals. B. Conti and H. B. Kleiner in their article entitled “How to increase teamwork in organizations”, published in Training for Quality, Volume 5, Number 1, pages 26-29, March 1997, stated that ‘‘a team has two or more people; it has a specific performance objective or recognised goal to attain; and co-ordination of activity among the members of the team is required for the attainment of team goal’’.
In a complete team, all members know the strengths and weaknesses of other members. ‘‘A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable’’ (J. R. Katzenbach and D. K. Smith in their book, “The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance organization”, published by Harvard Business School, Boston in 1993). A complete team does not apportion blames but gives individual feed-backs.
According to R. M. Belbin in “Team Roles at work” published by Butterworth-Heinemann in London in 1993, ‘‘team-workers are cooperative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic. They have an ability to listen to others, build relationships, avert friction, and resolve differences’’.
If a football team that ordinarily should have 11 members has 10 members and there is a keeper, a full left back, a full right back, a central defender, a supportive central defender, a defensive midfielder, an attacking midfielder, a right winger, a left winger and an attacker - 10 members - and the team is so cohesive that it is difficult for an 11-member team to beat it, then the 10-member team can be described as a complete team.
A complete team is judged by the complementariness of the team members and understanding of individual’s roles and the objective of the team by all members rather than the number of team members. A complete team enjoys empathy and sympathy of other team members and abhors apathy.
Bruce W. Tuckman in “Developmental sequence in small groups”, published in 1965 in Psychological Bulletin, No. 63, pages 384-399, developed one of the common models of team formation and identified four stages as (1) Forming, (2) Storming, (3) Norming and (4) Performing. A complete team goes through these four stages over time, gels very well at maturity and improves quality, productivity and efficiency of the team members; encourages innovation and exchange of ideas; improves employee motivation and job satisfaction leading to a rewarding experience. A complete team is a collection of high performers and is difficult to beat as every member understands and covers for each other.
A complete team is not a galaxy of stars. A complete team is not a collection of experts without ambitions. It is a gathering of a group of people who are motivated to achieve a common goal. This group of people has common understanding of why they are together. They have stayed and trained together so that they can predict each other's actions.
The most important factor in a complete team is the collective focus on team success. Team achievement is primary, while individual team member’s achievement is secondary. What motivates a complete team are the awards and achievements that the team is able to get while the team members are together as a team. A complete team is not built around an individual, and no change is noticed when an individual is not in the team.
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