A veteran consultant gives an in-depth definition of the concepts of teamwork, including definitions of the different types of teams and success factors to consider with your team.

by Rose Polchin
Date Published February 9, 2021 - Last Updated February 19, 2021

This article first appeared in ICMI.

“Focusing a group of individuals on a common goal, helping them to succeed, celebrating their successes, and, most importantly, connecting their performance to the bigger picture—this is what teams are all about.”

In a time of significant change, when the way we work, how we work, and where we work requires us to learn how to more successfully navigate uncertainty, operating as a cohesive team is essential. Working teamwork in times of change becomes even more critical to our ability to serve customers, ensure our employees are engaged, and deliver results.

So, what is a team? It’s a simple question, but one that is seldom asked. A lot of folks assume that they’re part of a team without giving much thought as to what that really means or whether their team actually is a team.

Let’s start with a definition:

“A team is a group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable” - The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith.

Teams are a means to an end, and if they are developed effectively, the team’s average performance will exceed that of an individual working in a non-team environment. Besides higher performance, there are many other benefits, as well.

For instance, team membership can:

  • Create a sense of belonging and purpose for its individual members.
  • Allow individuals to experience successes they may not have been able to do on their own.
  • Help individuals see the bigger picture.
  • Inspire individuals to perform at higher levels for the collective good.

The Three Types of Teams

There are three different types of teams:

Teams that make recommendations.

These teams may be cross-functional in nature, have very specific tasks or projects to complete, and will generally disband once the goal is achieved. An example would be a task force or team formed to select a new quality monitoring and recording system.

Teams that make or do things.

These teams are generally near the frontline or on it. In most cases, the work is ongoing so there are no completion dates. However, there may be specific initiatives or process improvements that have targeted deadlines. These types of teams require systems and supporting improvements that have targeted deadlines. They also require systems and supporting processes to be in place because there is a relentless focus on performance and continuous improvement.

Teams that run things.

These teams include managers, supervisors and team leaders. For these individuals to become a team, they must have a distinctive purpose that is specific to the team and that requires its members to accomplish goals beyond individual end products.

Team Success Factors

You may have all three types of teams in your contact center. In this article, we’ll focus on the contact center team, which is a team that “makes or does things.”

The following are seven success factors—each with an example for this type of team:

1. Set clear goals and standards and ensure that all team members understand the team’s purpose.

2. Provide a mechanism to assess progress toward goal achievement.

3. Establish a process to celebrate, communicate, and recognize progress toward goals and achievement of goals.

4. Celebrate every movement of 10 percent

5. Ensure that teams have the skills, knowledge, and abilities to successfully achieve the goals.

6. Ensure that there is individual and mutual accountability for performance and results.

7. Provide teams with support, recognition, and resources from management and the organization.

What’s Your Role in Team Development?

Focusing a group of individuals on a common goal, helping them to succeed, celebrating their successes, and, most importantly, connecting their performance to the bigger picture—this is what teams are all about.

As the leader of the contact center team, it’s your responsibility to help the group come together, establish goals and standards, determine how to capitalize on their individual strengths, and create an environment that embraces pride, enthusiasm, and ownership for their accomplishments.

Rose Polchin  is a Senior Consultant for ICMI. She brings over 25 years of contact center experience, both as an independent consultant and in contact center leadership roles within the financial services and health care industries. During her tenure as senior director of customer service strategies for one of the country’s largest health care services organizations, Rose’s leadership was instrumental in creating and implementing a common vision, strategy and processes across the company’s multi-site contact center network, which helped establish the contact centers as strategic assets for the business. 

Rose now continues her commitment to excellence in customer experience through her delivery of ICMI seminars and by partnering with customers on key projects.   Her hands-on experience has equipped her with the ability to consult with contact centers on all facets of contact center management from strategic development and deployment of resources to quality program design and employee engagement.  Rose’s passion and focus is partnering with customers to develop and implement strategies that create value for their respective organizations, customers and employees.

Tag(s): supportworld, service quality, service desk, service management, best practice, change management, communications skills


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