On The Job: Karen Bolda

A reality for most of us is that we do a lot of our work as part of a group, rather than as individuals. Many assume that once a group is formed, they can function as a team, but, although all teams are groups, not all groups are teams. The difference between a group and a team is that a group still functions as a collection of individuals, with their individual goals, while a team is bound by a common goal. A dysfunctional group tends to produce poor, untimely products and there is often a lot of conflict between members that can spread over into the entire company. A team works through its conflicts, allowing them to take advantage of their combined brain power.

How does a group make the transition to a functional team? The first step is to allow the group to properly define its goals before moving on to the much more appealing discussion of the details of who will do what. It is important to recognize that the process of a group reaching consensus on goals often takes longer than anticipated, and may uncover some conflicts. A group is easily frustrated in these early stages and the question "what are we doing here" may get repeated often. Don't move forward until that question has been answered to the satisfaction of everyone.

With a solid foundation of the goals of the group, the evolution to a team happens naturally because individuals are now working towards the same thing. Meetings will begin to generate longer lists of action items. And, more importantly, most of the action items get done because individuals feel more accountable to a team, as well as more accomplished when the reason for their efforts is clearly defined.

Karen Bolda, M.A., is a meeting facilitator and professional development trainer. She's lived in Ashland for 13 years where she operates her own consulting business. Visit her website at www.karenbolda.com or contact her at karen@karenbolda.com.