Are you employing a team of idiots?

Frank Newberry

In the first of his articles on how you can improve your work team's performance, Pitchcare Trainer and Motivational Speaker, Frank Newberry, outlines the eight building blocks that need to be in place for a work team to succeed

It has been one of my unhappy duties to listen to a number of turfcare supervisors describe their work teams as "a bunch of idiots" (this being a phrase I can use in print).

I have learned to respond to this statement with the question; "and who hired them?" At this point, the team leader may own up to some involvement, but will then mutter something about them "interviewing well" or just "scraping through their probation". On further enquiry, it usually transpires that the key issues of 'teamworking' and 'working well together' were not probed or tested during the selection process.

Added to this, the employer usually assumes that work teams will gel naturally and, if they did not pull together, the boss will deal with the problem people as individuals.

Half of all UK work teams are functioning below capacity

Does this sound familiar? It should do. One expert has calculated that half of all UK work teams are functioning below capacity and will never reach their potential without some 'team building' effort.

Now, team building should not be confused with 'team bonding' which is when we all go out for a day or have a nice meal together. The purpose of a team bonding session being to get all the team members talking to each other - outside of the workplace - hopefully 'breaking the ice' and bonding together socially.

Difficult people remain a potential threat to good teamworking

In my experience, people often recall fondly the details of their bonding activities but, all too often, the events are dismissed by the same people as a "waste of time" because "nothing changed", particularly in the way that team members work together.

The stronger personalities and the more difficult people remain a potential threat to good teamworking; as do important issues like the fair allocation of work, people not pulling their weight, people being negative and people choosing to speak to some people but not to others. Again, this may sound familiar to you.

At this stage, it is important not to confuse the term 'team building' with 'teamworking'. Team building focuses on the formation of groups, whilst teamworking concentrates on the function of groups. Both are vital for successful team performance.

The eight building blocks to team effectiveness

A man called Edgar Schein studied teams at work and observed that there are eight building blocks to good team performance. In no particular order, these are:

1. The team's goals

2. Decision making in the team

3. Participation and communication

4. Feelings - and the team's reaction to them

5. Diagnosis of the team's problems and weaknesses

6. Creativity and team development

7. Leadership within the team

8. Trust within the team

In the second of these articles, we will look at each of these building blocks in turn and you will have the opportunity to audit the work team from your own perspective - as a team member or as a team leader (as per number 5 in the list above).

There may be a course you can attend this winter

If you cannot wait until the next issue, there may be a course you can attend this winter that will help you to get the best from your work team.

I will not now be presenting my long-running 'Moving into Management' workshop for BIGGA at Harrogate Week in January 2015, but my Pitchcare workshops that should be relevant to you as a turfcare professional this winter are:

• Supervisory Essentials 1, 2, 3 and 4 - a series of four stand alone workshops:

- Taking Charge - on 13 November 2014

- Getting Better Results - on 11 December 2014

- Enhanced Communication Skills - on 5 February 2015

- Problem Solving & Decision Making - on 26 February 2015

ChrisJohnson 2011You can take one of the workshops or all of them. Now may be the time for you to join the hundreds of other turfcare professionals who have been helped by Pitchcare to become key players in their own high performance teams.

For more details, including how to book your place on all Pitchcare workshops, visit the website or contact Chris Johnson, Pitchcare's Training Development Manager.

If you need help right now to decide which training and development activity is best for you, your colleagues or your team, a good place to start could be to contact Chris. She can tell you which training programmes will help you.

Chris may be contacted on 01902 440263 or via email at