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Team Building for Rffective Council management

Team Building for Effective Council Management

( By Charlie MBONTEH, Tel. 77649430, email: mudecgroup@yahoo.com &

 Francis KONGNYUI, Tel. 77517900, email : wachefrancis@yahoo.com )

Introduction

The 2004 Law on Decentralization mandates Local Councils to foster development in their municipalities in several domains including: health, education, infrastructure, sports, leisure and culture.

The Law also allows for Collegial Management requiring Mayors and their Deputies to collaborate closely in performing their clearly defined roles.

The Prime Ministerial Decree no. 2008/0752 of 24th April 2008 clearly spells out the Attributes Delegated to Deputy Mayors. This decree reinforces the aspect of Collegial Management thereby not leaving things to the discretion of the Mayor.

Furthermore, as resources (human, material and financial) are being transferred from the Central Government to Local Councils, it is expected that the Council Management Team will work together to enable them accomplish their expanded responsibilities.

It is, therefore, necessary and mandatory for Council Managers to adopt a team spirit so as to involve all stakeholders in ensuring that there is effective and efficient use of scarce resources. It is within this orientation that this module is necessary for the training of Council Managers as the First Transfer of Funds are being engaged.

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Understand  the Fundamental Principles of Team Dynamics
  • Appreciate the need for Joint Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Evaluation of Council Activities

What is a Team?

A team is a cohesive group of people working collectively toward the same objective. Team members usually feel “a sense of togetherness, belonging and ownership.”

In the context of local council management, the team comprises the Mayor, Deputies, Committee Chairpersons, the Secretary General and the Municipal Treasurer. In some cases, the Town Planner and all other Heads of Council Services can be included in this team. While this represents the internal part of the team, it is necessary to think that there are external partners who also work in the interest of the council including the Supervisory Authority, Local Council services at the level of the Governor, Government Technical Services within the council area and other Development Actors sich as Church organizations in the municipality.

The term “TeamBuilding” refers to a group of workmen each completing one or a set of operations that lead to a common objective.

It is also a number of persons associated together in a work activity of organisational development.

Council Team building relates to the process of improving the performance of council managers by using appropriate methods.

It also means building inter-personal relationships (both oral and written) of council managers such as  talking, discussing, asking and answering questions, being ready for brainstorming or for working unusual hours, listening and asking for suggestions, respecting and following the indications received, keeping the morale as high as possible and motivating the people when needed.

 

Stages in the life Cycle of a Team:

Forming: Members begin to familiarise themselves with one another.

Informing : Detailed information is circulated about the team

Storming: Tensions, frictions and conflict erupt. Members are still pursuing personal and even hidden agendas.v Norming: Conflicts and tensions are resolved; roles are clarified. The team begins to get more cohesive and harmonious

 

Performing: Soon after the objectives, procedures and norms have been adopted, members collectively pursue group objectives. There is synergy, productivity is increased and solutions emerge

Transforming: Meeting the challenges of the times or adapting to the current needs of members

Mourning: Closure or dissolution of the team (Exit Strategy in cases of handing over resulting from elections or transfers).

 


  1. 2.      Characteristics for Effective Council Teams
  • Have Clear Objectives

When goals are clearly defined, it is easy for team members to grasp the purpose of the team. Once they understand these objectives, team members are likely to further understand the direction that will enhance team success.

Also, clear objectives and goals foster ownership. For instance, team members are likely to own goals and work towards achieving them if they have been involved in establishing them as team. In addition, clear goals foster team unity, while unclear goals, on the other hand, foster confusion and individualism.

Practically, a team can ensure that goals or objectives are understood by having each team member list them and, then, compare the similarities and differences before agreeing on the final goals.

  • Specify Clearly the Roles of each Member

With clearly specified roles, team members easily understand why they are on any team.

When team members are comfortable and satisfied with their primary roles on the team, they can identify the roles they play during team activities. Most often, conflicts erupt in teams due to unclear roles.

  • Effective Communication

Communication is cardinal for effective teamwork.  Members need to be able to listen to others in the team and also offer constructive feedback that will ensure that the message received has been well understood. To improve its current performance, a team uses the feedback from the team assessment in order to:

  • Identify any gap between the desired state and the actual state
  • Design a gap-closure strategy.

 

Effective communication among team members increases the chances of success in attaining desired objectives.

Daglow’s Law of Team dynamics: “Small teams are informed. Big teams infer.”

  • Clarify Ambiguities: Design internal rules and regulations that guide the actions of members and can be referred to in situations where there are divergent views. The council team with reduced ambiguity will increase the possibilities of supplying quality services to the population.
  • Effective Decision Making:

Decision-making is effective when the team is aware of and uses many methods to arrive at decisions. Consensus is often touted as the best way to make decisions.

The team should discuss the method they want to use that will yield positive results in project execution. Generally, the team could collectively:

ü  Identify a  problem

ü  Analyse it

ü  Provide alternative solutions

ü  Choose best solution

ü  Follow up execution and reporting

 


  • Ensure Balanced Participation

A team thrives on participation. Through active participation everybody on the team is fully involved. Participation should be encouraged throughout all the stages (planning, execution, monitoring and evaluation).

Each member is given an opportunity to contribute whenever necessary. The more a team involves all its members in its activities, the more it is likely to experience a high level of commitment, synergy and success.

  • Give Value to  Divergent Views

Because team members are individuals, they bring individual and, sometimes, unique contributions that should be valued by other members of the team. It goes beyond gender, race, age, family and friends.

Thus, a diversity of thinking, ideas, methods, experiences and opinions help to create a high performing team. In short, everything is done to ensure that everyone’s opinion is sought and valued by others on the team.

  • Conflict Management  

Conflict is a situation where members have divergent interests and are willing to protect and defend such interests at all costs. Conflict is common in all teams and is essential to the creativity, productivity and growth of any team.

Every team – effective or ineffective (functioning or dormant) – experiences conflicts. The council manager can handle conflicts through a variety of strategies including confrontation, compromise and collaboration. It is the manner of managing conflicts that distinguishes the quality of teams. Effective teams see conflicts as positive. To them, it represents progress and growth.

Some benefits of healthy conflicts include: 

a)        Find productive ways to communicate differences, seek common goals and gain consensus.

b)        Encourage creativity by enabling the team to look beyond current assumptions and parameters.

c)        Allow team members to express their emotions thus preventing feelings about unresolved issues from becoming obstacles to the team’s progress

 

  • Encourage a Positive Atmosphere of Team Spirit

A positive atmosphere, characterised by trust and openness, enables team members to be comfortable enough with one another; it fosters a spirit of camaraderie and is propitious for members to embark on creative activities, take risks and even make mistakes.

In such an atmosphere of team spirit, there is plenty of laughter and light-hearted jokes. In fact, research shows that people who are enjoying themselves are more productive than those who dislike what they do.

  • Emphasize Corporate Relationships

Team members know they need one another’s skills, knowledge and expertise to produce something together that they could not do alone. There is a sense of belonging and a willingness to make things work for the good of the whole team.

  • Encourage Participatory Leadership

Leaders share the responsibility of the tasks; they are supportive and fair. They strive relentlessly to create a climate of trust and openness. They are, above all, good coaches and teachers.

As good role models, they serve as catalysts that spur their teams to enhanced productivity. In the best of circumstances, it is difficult to spot out such leaders during a casual observation.

Strategies for Functioning Teams

a)      Hold Effective Weekly Meetings

b)      Serve Reminders to communicate ideas, activities, intentions, programs by use of Memos and Agendas

c)      Joint Planning and Effective distribution of Tasks (Action Planning for a given period).

It includes:  Activity, Responsibility, Deadline and Resources needed

 


Types of Team Members:

No Type Characteristics Team Building Strategies
1 The Bully  > To hurt or frighten someone.> To force someone to do something they do not want to do > Other members should remain calm.> Try to do what is acceptable to the Bully.
2 The Doer  > Someone who gets actively involved in something rather than just thinking or talking about it >Encourage the Doer.  >Motivate the Doer.
3 The Clever One  > Having the ability to understand and learn quickly and easily >Assign him/her to a technical role. >Encourage his/her participation by soliciting their ideas.
4 The Talkative  >  Talking a lot >Define clearly his/her role.>Make regular references to the Internal Rules and Regulations.
5 The Introvert  > Someone who is quiet, shy and unable to make friends easily >Encourage their participation.> Solicit their ideas before, during and after meetings.

> Assign them into committees.

6 The Sceptic  > Person who doubts the truth or value of an idea or belief > Give regular feedback on activities.> Coach on the need to take risks.
7 The Thick-skinned Some one who feels that  his/her idea  is best > Assign him/her to a leading role in an activity.> Always request alternative views from him/her.
8 The Untouchable Not able to be punished, criticized or changed in any way > Always emphasize on the need to respect the Laws, Internal Rules and Regulations.
9 The Cynic  Person  who believes that people are only interested in themselves and are not be trusted > Involve them at every level of the project cycle.> Encourage ownership of the activity.

 

TEMPERAMENTS OF TEAM MEMBERS

No Temperament Characteristics Team Building Strategies
1 SANGUINE:  Positive,  Hopeful, Optimist Encourage and Motivate them. Assign him/her to a technical role. Encourage his/her participation by soliciting their ideas. Assign him/her to a leading role in an activity.> Always request alternative views from him/her. Always emphasize on the need to respect the Laws, Internal Rules and Regulations.
2 MELANCHOLIC:  Person who is usually sad without reasons  for extended periods Encourage their participation.> Solicit their ideas before, during and after meetings.

> Assign them into committees. Give regular feedback on activities.

> Coach on the need to take risks. Involve them at every level of the project cycle.

> Encourage ownership of the activity.

3 CHOLERIC:  Angry or easily annoyed > Other members should remain calm and try to do what is acceptable to them.> Assign him/her to a leading role in an activity.

> Always request alternative views from him/her.

> Always emphasize on the need to respect the Laws, Internal Rules and Regulations

4 PHLEGMATIC:  Someone who tends not to get excited or emotional about things Encourage their participation.> Solicit their ideas before, during and after meetings.

> Assign them into committees.

Give regular feedback on activities.

> Coach on the need to take risks.

Involve them at every level of the project cycle.

> Encourage ownership of the activity.

 

        1 – Advantages of Team Building.

– Leads to efficiency in productivity

– Effectiveness in meeting deadlines for project implementation

– Encourages specialization and division of labour

–  Reduces stress

2 – Disadvantages of Team Building

–          Could result into conflicts, disagreements and  envy

 

–          Could result in delays in decision making when seeking for consensus

 

–          Could result in abandoned projects

Conclusion

In conclusion, a high performing team can accomplish more together than acting individually. The new dispensation on decentralization expands the functions of local councils. The council can certainly execute these expanded functions when all council workers operate in a team. Building the council team requires a positive team spirit from all workers. Team spirit is a necessary foundation or condition for team building in the council environment. Team spirit must be cultivated, encouraged and rewarded. Inclusive participation should serve as a roadmap within the spirit of team building in every council.

The Mayor is elected by the population and is, therefore, uniquely positioned to encourage a healthy working environment upon which a productive team can be built in the council. The Deputies can (beside their main duties) play a supportive role by collaborating with the Mayor in building effective teams in their councils. The Committee Chairpersons can play an important role in team building by ensuring that each committee member participates actively.

The Secretary General, who is the Coordinator of council services, can facilitate effective team building by holding regular meetings, encouraging staff to speak out and ensuring that the roles of each staff are clearly defined with measurable indicators.

The Municipal Treasurer can contribute immensely towards team building by making the timely availability of funds that will ensure the smooth functioning of the team.               


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