VIEWS: 117 PAGES: 79 POSTED ON: 3/6/2011
Teambuilding Teams are the primary unit of performance for increasing numbers of organisations. Katzenbach and Smith If you find yourself in the position of manager of a newly-formed team, or you’ve been asked to manage a team when you’ve never done it before, you will find something here to help. As a team leader, it’s important that you don’t underestimate the value of the team and the benefits to you of creating an effective team. Author: Gwyn Williams and Bruce Milroy Introduction At its simplest, a team can be described as a ‘group of people with a common goal or purpose’. This topic will show how you can create that sense of having a common purpose and belonging that will help the team to come together as one unit, performing at a higher level than a number of separate individuals might do. In modern life, high-performing teams have become the Holy Grail for effective and successful organisations. In addition, it has become a cliché that change is the only constant. You can change technology, markets and products, or the country or continent you work in; you can even change the shape of the organisation in pursuit of competitive advantage. What doesn’t seem to change, however, is that sustainable success is achieved through people working together in a variety of ways, whether in functional groups, or in cross- functional and/or project groups brought together for specific tasks. Highly effective teams are an increasingly important way of achieving results and remaining competitive in the current economic climate. Even though most of us are familiar with the term ‘team’, we often struggle to create a clear picture of what a team is, why one will outperform another and what conditions need to be met to establish high-performing teams. This topic explains the characteristics of an effective team, suggests ways to create the best possible environment and conditions, and includes simple tools to help you set about building a high-performing team. Top tip As a manager and team leader, it is important to recognise that teams are made up of individuals, each of whom has a different view of the world, a different set of personal values and beliefs, and different ideas on how a team should be managed. Treat your people as individuals, listen to their views, and help them to understand that if they learn to appreciate the different skills available in the team, they will be able to achieve more together. The value of teams is widely accepted and the potential benefits are significant, but it is often difficult to make it work in practice. We need to discover the common elements that are combined to build an effective team and how you, as the team-leader, can go about modelling these factors to create an environment with ‘all the right stuff’ to enable a group of individuals to perform effectively as a team. While some of these elements may be counter-intuitive – for example, building the team should never become the primary goal – most of it is actually common sense. All teams, however they are structured and whatever their goal, must deal with common development needs and issues in order to become high performers. It is critical for managers and leaders to be effective team builders if they are to achieve their business aims and get the best out of people. Constant vigilance is required to ensure the team leader builds and sustains an effective and efficient team. In a nutshell 1. What is a team? A team has been defined as a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Banding together in teams is very much part of our ancient, primeval history and therefore there is vast evidence of the benefit of working in teams. A team is any number of individuals from three to 12. In terms of team size, six to 12 members is the ideal. Fewer than six may not provide a sufficient range of ideas and more than 12 tend to split into subgroups that are likely to undermine the concept of team working. Generally speaking, it is accepted that teams outperform individuals. More... 2. Why build a team? Teams make a difference because they only come about when the task at hand is too large (scale) or difficult (complexity) for one person to complete alone. Collectively, a team can create an environment that allows a sharing of diverse views, ideas and skills that ultimately results in an output that is stronger, better and more coherent than any one individual member of the team could have produced. By spending time together, having common experiences, and clearly understanding the strengths and weaknesses that individuals bring to the team, you can take the team to a higher level of performance. Without due attention to team process – the mechanisms by which the team acts as a unit and not as a loose collection of individuals – the value of the team can be diminished or even destroyed. The functioning of the team itself should be viewed as an important resource whose maintenance must be managed just like any other resource. This management should be undertaken by the team itself, so that it forms a normal part of team activities. It is the leader’s responsibility to create an environment in which the team assumes this accountability and has the capability to self-manage its development. Good team building establishes a sense of home and of belonging to something worthwhile, with a particular style and identity. It increases motivation, engagement, participation, skill development, performance, productivity, leadership and communication. More... 3. Teams can be scary! As a new team member or leader, it’s important to consider the types of questions people are likely to be considering, both at a conscious and sub-conscious level. In an organisational environment, there is a high likelihood that people won’t be asking these questions out loud – but that doesn’t mean they’re not pondering the possible answers. The questions tend to concern conscious and subconscious fears: What exactly will be expected of me? What risks am I willing to take here? Will I feel pressured and pushed to perform in some way? Will I be disliked, rejected or thought stupid? Will I be the most powerful and important, or will others be seen in a better light than I will? More... 4. Overview of team development stages Dr Bruce Tuckman published his Forming Storming Norming Performing model in 1965. He added a fifth stage, Adjourning, in the 1970s. The model is regularly used to understand where teams are in their lifecycle. Recognising the characteristics and needs of the team at each of these development stages can give the team leader a significant tool for moving the team towards higher performance. It is crucial for the leader to recognise the characteristics being displayed, and understand the team’s changing needs and the leadership behaviours that will best serve the team and, if necessary, enable it to move to the next stage. A group might be happily Norming or Performing, but a disturbance – such as a new leader or, indeed, any new member, or a new project that is significantly different from the former task – might force them back into Storming. More... 5. Stage 1: Forming (or childhood) Forming is the stage when the group first comes together, though a group may revert to forming when a new leader takes over (or even when a new member joins). The key issues centre around acceptance, trust and personal well-being. Group members set about gathering impressions and data about the similarities and differences among them and forming preferences for cliques. Rules of behaviour seem to be to keep things simple and to avoid controversy. Serious topics and feelings are avoided. Introductions should include previous experience, what each person wants from the team and what has worked or not worked for them in the past. More... 6. Stage 2. Storming (or adolescence) This is a time when individual members feel comfortable enough in the team to begin to challenge decisions. They test the boundaries of authority by arguing their point, standing their ground, and sometimes actively seeking an argument with others in the team – just like teenagers do with their parents. Factions form, personalities clash, sub-groups come to the fore. Questions will arise about who is going to be responsible for what, what the rules are, what the reward system is, and the precise criteria for evaluation. The team leader must concentrate on establishing a good, productive atmosphere, cementing solid interpersonal relations between the team members and keeping them focused on a common vision and the tasks and goals agreed. Don’t fight it! If individuals appear cynical, take the time to listen to their concerns and understand why they feel the way they do. Involving someone early in a process can create an emotional engagement and make them feel more valued and appreciated. More... 7. Stage 3. Norming (or early adulthood) In the norming phase, interpersonal relations are characterised by cohesion. The in- fighting subsides and individuals and cliques begin to recognise the merits of working together. Harmony becomes the norm. The most significant improvement is that people start to listen to each other. The major task function of stage three is the data flow between group members: they now share feelings and ideas, solicit and give feedback to one another, and explore actions related to the task. Now is the time to put in place detailed plans, expected standards of work and methods of frequent communication. Creativity is high. The leader can begin to step back, be less directive, and encourage others to assume leadership, as appropriate Members may begin to fear the inevitable future break-up of the group, so they may resist change of any sort. More... 8. Phase 4: Performing (or maturity) This stage, which is not reached by all groups, is the culmination, when the group has settled on a system which allows free and frank exchange of views and a high degree of support by the group for each other and its own decisions. In this stage, people can work independently, in subgroups, or as a total unit with equal levels of effectiveness There is unity: group identity is complete, group morale and energy is high, and group loyalty is intense. What members of the group need from their team leader is clarity on the boundaries that they can operate within, and permission to be flexible and creative in order to complete the task. More... 9. Phase 5: Adjourning (or retiring) Concluding a group can create some apprehension – in effect, a minor crisis. A planned conclusion usually includes recognition for participation and achievement and an opportunity for members to say personal goodbyes. When teams don’t go through a process of disengagement, members can often feel ‘unfinished’. More... 10. Attributes of a high-performing team Does your team exhibit the following characteristics? A high level of inter-dependence among team members Team members have developed mutual trust The team is clear about goals and establishes targets Team member roles are defined Each team member is willing to contribute There’s an environment of healthy contention and communication Team members can examine failure without slipping into personal attacks The team has a capacity to create new ideas Each member knows he can influence the team agenda The leader has good people skills and is committed to a team approach. More... 11. The team leader’s role An effective team leader will Create a positive climate with a shared vision Help develop a set of principles Liaise between the team and upper management Encourage team member growth Be fair Be supportive Give direction where needed More... 12. Running a team or group session Any meeting should be considered as a teambuilding event, even the regular weekly or monthly meeting. Whenever and wherever the team gets together, think about the implications and possibilities in relation to helping the team perform. You may also organise other, more formal activities, exercises or group events, as well as other social activities such as ten-pin bowling. For more formal and carefully-considered exercises and games to tackle team issues or develop specific skills, such as leadership or communication, we would suggest that you use an outside consultant who specialises in team building. You should meet on at least a monthly basis; you certainly shouldn’t leave more than three months between meetings, even in exceptional circumstances. Prepare carefully for each meeting and make sure everyone else who needs to also has time to prepare. You may start by giving team members a chance to express their thoughts about how the team is progressing and any unresolved issues. More... 13. Ideal conditions for teambuilding To build an effective team, the leader must have good people skills, be committed to developing a team approach, and allocate time to team-building activities. Team management should be seen as a shared function, and team members given the opportunity to exercise leadership when their experiences and skills are appropriate to the needs of the team. Team building works best when there’s A blame-free, trusting, supportive and interactive environment A high level of interdependence among team members Clarity around goals and targets that are stretching but achievable. More... 14. When to get in an external consultant Allowing a dysfunctional team to continue can lead to costs through duplicated effort, redundancies, recruitment and production delays. A facilitator may help with Establishing a team vision and setting goals Team and organisation objective setting Effective team meetings and team problem solving Dispute resolution and mediation Root cause analysis Breakthrough thinking Establishing a change strategy and change management Business planning Team review and feedback sessions More... 15. Common approaches to teambuilding There are many approaches to teambuilding and your choice will depend on what your outcome is for the team and on what is available by way of time, budget and facilities. Teambuilding events are extremely popular and can be enormously beneficial in the early stages of team development, creating a bond and a sense of trust between individual team members. Events are normally designed to take people out of their ‘comfort zone’ by encouraging them to take part in activities which are more challenging than a regular office job. Other events are run simply to provide fun, adrenaline-packed activities that enable to team to relax, enjoy themselves, get to know each other, and feel rewarded for their efforts. Possible social events might include going to the local pub, taking part in a pub quiz, doing something for a local charity or community, taking part in a charity event, or going to the races together. Questionnaires can be a useful way to stimulate a conversation in the team and encourage the members of your team to talk about how they feel and suggest ways that the team could improve the way it works. Models, such as the FIT model or the John Adair model, can be used to inform and encourage discussion within a team about how the team is functioning. More... 16. FIT model The FIT (Functioning Integrated Team) Model breaks down the performance of teams into the key elements that differentiate high-performing teams from the norm. It’s critically important that members of your team understand what the whole organisation is trying to achieve; what the team is trying to achieve, and how this particular team helps the organisation to achieve its goals. Once the team is clear on its purpose and why it exists, you should spend time thinking through what the team actually produces as an output. If your team provides a service or is a pure management team, outputs can be hard to identify, but are definitely worth some thought. As team leader, it’s your job to make sure that you understand what the team is trying to achieve (team purpose); what they actually produce (team outputs), and how they will be measured (performance measures). Get the team to consider whether they have the inputs they require in order to do a good job. You also need to consider the core work and support processes required for the team to achieve its goals and objectives in the most effective way. What are the core tasks and goals the team aims to complete, and in which order of importance are they held? Individual objectives should link up with the team’s objectives and the organisation’s vision. The processes of making decisions and then communicating them effectively and consistently are absolutely vital to the success of any high-performing team. It’s also important that you, and all the members of your team, are clear about the team structure, roles and how you are going to cope with any problems over locations. Taking time to clarify what is valued in the team is an essential aspect of creating a well-formed and bonded team. As part of your role, you should review the performance of individuals within the team, and then offer them constructive and helpful feedback on how you see them and what they can do to help improve the performance of your team. If your financial incentives are out of alignment with your team philosophy, then creating a high-performing team is almost impossible. You may not be able to influence pay and bonus awards, but you can think of personal ways to reward and motivate your team. You need to create a culture that is involving, engaging and inclusive – the kind of culture that most people want to work in. More... 17. John Adair model John Adair describes a team as having three key needs: Task – the need to accomplish something (in other words, what the team will do) Group – the need to develop and maintain harmonious working relationships (how people relate to each other) Individual – the personal needs and aims of team members More... 18. Case study A case study illustrates how a senior management team, which was already performing well, set about performing to a higher standard. More... Common questions 1. What’s the first thing I should do with my new team? 2. What’s the benefit of teambuilding – is it really important? 3. How do I deal with the cynics in the team? 4. I have a team that is not all in one place. We communicate by email and phone. What can I do to try and get them to feel more like a team? 5. We are not achieving as much as we ought to as a team. What can I do? 1. What’s the first thing I should do with my new team? The first step is to take the time to introduce yourself to each of the team members. Tell them a little about yourself and what you’d like to achieve with the team. Ask them for their views on how they like to work, and what they’d like to get out of being a member of this team in the next six to 12 months. When you introduce yourself as the new team leader, tell them Your background and experience What really excites you What really annoys you What you expect from a good team member More... 2. What’s the benefit of teambuilding – is it really important? Teams make a difference. They make a difference because they only come about when the task at hand is too large (scale) or difficult (complexity) for one person to complete alone. When you involve more than one person in the task, you are creating a work team, responsible for the delivery of a common goal or objective. It makes sense that, since the team is made up of individuals, each person will bring a different attitude, set of skills and set of behaviours to the team. That’s why a team can create more than the sum of its parts. Because each person has a different view and unique set of skills, the team can collectively create an environment that allows the sharing of diverse views and ideas that ultimately create an output that is stronger, better and more coherent than any one individual member of the team could have done. Teambuilding is a way to accelerate the performance of a team. By spending time together, having common experiences, and clearly understanding the strengths and weaknesses that individuals bring to the team, you can take the team to a higher level of performance. Spending time on teambuilding is all about improving performance, and that means thinking about the task (that’s what you do), and thinking about the process (that’s how you do it) as well. It makes sense that the more you know about each other, the better you’ll be able to maximise on the strengths you collectively have as a team. More... 3. How do I deal with the cynics in the team? At the storming stage, you are most likely to encounter and have to deal with cynicism. People can be cynical for a whole range of understandable reasons. Common among these is the fact that they may have seen change happen in the past, and not work very effectively. If you are taking over as their new team leader, you may find that they have seen new team leaders come and go, making promises that weren’t kept. They may have even applied for the role of team leader themselves and been unsuccessful. In all of these cases, it’s important to take the time to listen to their concerns and understand why they feel the way they do. Involving them at a very early stage in planning a project can help to bring them on board quickly. If they are sceptical about team meetings or team awaydays, involve them in the planning. Ask them what they would like to see happen that would improve the situation for them and the team. You can also ask them for advice on what you should and shouldn’t do as team leader to avoid any of the pitfalls experienced with previous leaders. The technique of involving someone early in a process can create an emotional engagement and make them feel more valued and appreciated; as a result, the person often feels more able to contribute positively to the team. More... 4. I have a team that is not all in one place. We communicate by email and phone. What can I do to try and get them to feel more like a team? At a simple level, make sure they all have accurate and up-to-date contact numbers for each other; it’s surprising how often people let communication slip because someone has moved office and changed phone numbers or email accounts. Providing a structure for regular communication can be a big help for remote teams. A weekly teleconference is a good idea, as it can build up a habit of regular communication in the team. Here are some other methods of improving communication: Ask the team how they would like to communicate Ask them to consider the value they could get from regular communication with their colleagues Make it fun! In your weekly conference calls add in a ‘Movie Review’ section, or a ‘Best Night Out’ section, to encourage people to participate Identify whether communication is something that the team want to value (if people see communication as a valuable commodity, it’s easier for them to engage with it) More... 5. We are not achieving as much as we ought to as a team. What can I do? It’s often the case that you can see that your team could do more, but it’s not obvious what’s wrong. The problem is often to do with people having different views or perspectives on the situation. People may have different ideas about their role, or what the team is trying to achieve, and you can go a long way towards improving performance by clarifying any misunderstandings around those areas. Try bringing the team together to discuss and clarify what the team is aiming for, and the part everyone plays in delivering against that aim. This is a great way to start a different kind of conversation with the team – it gives you space to talk about what’s really on people’s minds, rather than talking about last week’s or last month’s performance figures. More... . What is a team? When an identifiable group of people are working together toward a common goal and are inter-dependent upon each other to realise that goal (as well as being rewarded for achieving it), they may be referred to as a team. If any of these factors are missing, they may simply be a group of individuals that loosely come together with their own agendas and no common purpose. A team is any number of individuals from three to 12. In terms of team size, six to 12 members is the ideal. Fewer than six may not provide a sufficient variety of ideas and more than 12 tend to split into subgroups that are likely to undermine the concept of team working. In the Wisdom of Teams, Katzenbach and Smith use the following definition for a team. Definition Team: a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable Why do people work together? The desire to be part of a group seems to be instinctive, but what are the fundamental drivers of this instinct? Our distant ancestors certainly faced some interesting challenges. They found themselves at a disadvantage, after long-term climate change, having to come down from the trees and live on the much more open plains. All the other animals were specialists in some way – they had fearsome teeth or claws, tough hides or the ability to run fast. What our primate ancestors could do, however, was come together as a tribe, to live and work as a team. The question that then arose was – how? Our ancestors had to find ways of dealing with the scale of, for example, a pride of lions – both in terms of their greater physical strength and ‘firepower’ and their numbers. They also had to deal with environmental complexity, resulting from the range of potential threats and the need to find different types of foodstuffs. One response would be for everyone to simply use their own initiative – everyone do their own thing. Another would be for everyone to try and do exactly the same thing – stick together at all times. Both of these options had their limitations. The key challenge was find a way to deal with scale and complexity. Of course, the answer was to coordinate activities. And so the primates gathered together in tribes and tribal behaviour consequently emerged. By gathering in this way, a group could operate effectively at both higher scales and greater complexity. This was achieved by having a purpose and structure in place to align the activities of the individuals. Initially, a tribal chief and a council of elders could arbitrate or guide the tribe, without any need for a strong, centrally-imposed authority. At a certain point of group evolution – when tribes formed into clans, for example – this no longer worked, and so hierarchies emerged. The key benefit tribes enjoyed was the ability to provide food, shelter, warmth and safety for all the tribal (team) members and to achieve this to a greater extent than an isolated or lone primate could. This is also borne out in the catastrophic effects on an individual primate who broke the norms and values (tribal laws) and was subsequently cast out of the tribe to survive on their own. If they were unable to reinstate themselves in the tribe or to discover another tribe willing to accept them, the consequences were dire. To a much lesser extent, we see the same thing in present-day teams. And we can accept that banding together in teams is very much part of our ancient history and therefore there is vast evidence of the benefit of working in teams. Team, therefore, is a word and concept known to almost every man, woman and child in any culture one might come into contact with. Teamwork touches virtually every aspect of our lives and we become conscious of it from a very early age. The generic title ‘team’ or ‘teamwork’ has many applications and crosses many boundaries, starting within the family and ranging across the sporting arena, the military, through to working groups in commercial sectors and on to global teams operating in virtual time and space. Top tip Focus on a small number of key factors that will help to improve the performance of your team. Generally speaking, it is accepted that teams outperform individuals. Given this belief – that teams outperform individuals – it is hardly surprising that the available literature on teams is vast. What is surprising is that the creation of a truly high-performing team can be difficult to achieve in practice. Activity Ask the team to discuss a key factor, such as What is our common team goal? Within this team, what is our code of conduct with each other? What are our strengths? Why build a team? Teams make a difference. They make a difference because they only come about when the task at hand is too large (scale) or difficult (complexity) for one person to complete alone. When you involve more than one person in a task of this nature, you are creating a work team, responsible for the delivery of a common goal or objective. It makes sense that, since each individual will bring their own unique attitude, set of skills and set of behaviours to the team, the team can create more than the sum of its parts. Collectively, the team can create an environment that allows a sharing of diverse views, ideas and skills that ultimately results in an output that is stronger, better and more coherent than any one individual member of the team could have produced. Teambuilding is a way to accelerate the performance of a team. By spending time together, having common experiences, and clearly understanding the strengths and weaknesses that individuals bring to the team, you can take the team to a higher level of performance. Spending time on teambuilding is all about improving performance, and that means thinking about the task (that’s what you do), and thinking about the process (that’s how you do it) as well. It makes sense that the more you know about each other, the better you’ll be able to maximise on the strengths you collectively have as a team. Most of us can recount a time when we have worked within a team that just seemed to ‘fit’ together and achieved remarkable things against all odds. Many of us can also recount a time when the team just didn’t seem to gel, for whatever reason, even when it seemed as though it couldn’t possibly fail. Organisations need their teams to achieve high performance in a short space of time and to be self-managed, motivated and adaptive. This is the ideal, but it can be difficult to achieve when teams are changing so fast and have such demanding agendas, and also if individuals have to adapt to being members of different teams at the same time, each team working to achieve different objectives and priorities. All the more reason to understand how to help team members get to know each other and become an effective unit as quickly as possible. Top tip Getting to know your teammates at a level that goes beyond the immediate task is a simple and highly effective way of beginning to create a sense of ‘team’. High- performing teams build strong relationships through shared experiences – they spend time together discussing issues that are not related directly to the task in hand, and they often socialise together too. Activity Ask your team colleagues to take time in your next meeting to share something about themselves: What they do in their spare time? What’s most important in their life? How would their partner at home describe them and why? Is there something they have done that they are proud of? Productivity and process Productivity is related to the team’s task, in other words what the team is trying to achieve. Process is related to interpersonal behaviour or how the team is working together and how the team will achieve its task. When people work in teams, two quite separate issues are involved. The first is the task and the problems involved in getting the job done. Frequently this is the only issue that the team considers. The second is the process of the teamwork itself: the mechanisms by which the team acts as a unit and not as a loose collection of individuals. Without due attention to team process, the value of the team can be diminished or even destroyed. Teams are like relationships – you have to work at them. Focused management of the process can enhance the ability of the team to be greater than the sum of its parts. It is this synergy and the resulting increased effectiveness that makes teamwork attractive in corporate life. For optimum results, two things need to happen: The functioning of the team itself should be viewed as an important resource whose maintenance must be managed just like any other resource This management should be undertaken by the team itself, so that it forms a normal part of team activities. It is the leader’s responsibility to create an environment in which the team assumes this accountability and has the capability to self-manage its development. In simple terms, the focus on process leads to an agreed way of working – how we do things around here – in which there is a spirit of cooperation, coordination and commonly-understood set of behaviours and procedures. If this is present within a team of people, then their performance will be enhanced. Benefits of a team Two men working as a team will produce more than three men working as individuals. Charles P McCormick So what are the benefits of building a team? Being a part of a team creates a sense of belonging to something worthwhile, one of the basic needs we all have as human beings. It creates a sense of ‘home’ – a place where you can go and let your hair down, be yourself, and share your thoughts about what’s really going on in the world. It establishes a ‘quality standard’ for team practices and processes. It establishes team style and identity – the way we do business around here. It provides a discussion forum to share ideas, discuss options and make effective decisions. It keeps everyone focused by aligning team objectives to organisational goals and strategy. Individual and collective strengths and areas for improvement are identified and understood. It provides a development framework for issues relating to facilitation, information management, time management, team role, functions, leadership style, development and training. Team building increases motivation, engagement, participation, skill development, performance, productivity, leadership and communication. . Teams can be scary! In the very early stages of team development, people tend to pay much more attention to themselves than they do to the team. For members of a new team, or new members who are joining an existing team, a number of questions may be on their mind in addition to the task at hand. As a team member or leader, it’s important to consider the types of questions people are likely to be considering, both at a conscious and subconscious level. In an organisational environment, there is a high likelihood that people won’t be asking these questions out loud – but that doesn’t mean they’re not pondering the possible answers to these types of questions: Will I be accepted or rejected? Will they like me? How will this group be different from others I have worked with? What exactly will be expected of me? Will I be the most powerful and important, or will others be seen in a better light than I will? What risks am I willing to take here? How am I like other people here? How am I different? Will I feel pressured and pushed to perform in some way? Who will be the real leaders here? What can be achieved here? Concerns and fears Although this is not an exhaustive list, many of the questions listed above are driven by a concern or fear that you or your staff might have. When we enter new and uncertain situations, our natural human tendency is to seek certainty wherever we can find it, so being aware that people can become anxious in new situations can help you to provide as much certainty as you can, particularly around areas such as these: I'm afraid I'll look stupid. Will I tell too much about myself? Will others like me? What if I find out what I'm really like? What if everyone rejects me? What if the group attacks me? I'm afraid I'll be withdrawn and passive. Will I embarrass myself? What if I'm asked to do something I don't want to do? . Overview of team development stages Dr Bruce Tuckman published his Forming Storming Norming Performing model in 1965. He added a fifth stage, Adjourning, in the 1970s. The model is regularly used to understand where teams are in their lifecycle. The stages teams go through as they evolve normally happen in this order: Forming Storming Norming Performing Adjourning Team development All teams go through similar stages as they evolve from a group of individuals into an effective functioning team. Recognising the characteristics and needs of the team at each of these development stages can give the team leader a significant tool for moving the team towards higher performance. Once the team leader has determined the team’s stage of development, they can assess the team’s needs and act appropriately. Since we know that all effective teams progress through this series of predictable phases and that their needs change at each of these stages, we can safely predict that each phase requires different leadership skills. Therefore, it is crucial for the leader to recognise the characteristics being displayed, and understand the team’s changing needs and the leadership behaviours that will best serve the team and, if necessary, enable it to move to the next stage. Note that a group might be happily norming or performing, but a disturbance – such as a new leader or, indeed, any new member, or a new project that is significantly different from the former task – might force them back into storming. Seasoned leaders will be ready for this, and will help the group get back to performing as quickly as possible. Note also that a team does not inevitably progress from one stage onto another. A team may get stuck at one stage such as storming through lack of effective leadership or through an imbalance in the makeup of the team. If this happens, the team will probably fail at its assigned task and be disbanded. Stage 1 Forming (or childhood) Stage 2 Storming (or adolescence) Stage 3 Norming (or early adulthood) Stage 4 Performing (or maturity) Stage 5 Adjourning (or retiring) Exercise Plan a team meeting to discuss where your team is in the development cycle Read through the descriptions of the team development stages and ask each member of the team to write down which stage they think the team is at. Depending on which stage the team as a whole believe themselves to be in, the following discussion topics will help the team to move up the development cycle more quickly. Forming Spend time talking about the role that each member has in the team. Make sure they each understand what is expected of them as a member of the team, and what they must do to remain in the team. Spend time finding out what each individual wants to get from the experience of being in the team – understanding each individual’s driving motivation will help you, as team leader, to work out how to manage them within the team Storming Spend time round a table discussing what are the real issues that affect the team. Ask each team member to write down what they like and don’t like about being in this team. Once you’ve identified the issues that are concerning the team, be aware that it’s very common for team members to suggest that the problem lies outside the team – they have to work with systems that are unworkable and so on. All this may be true, but it’s likely that you will have very little control over these issues. Focus the conversation on what you can do in the team to make life easier for each other and become a more effective and high-performing team Norming Agree some ground rules as a team. A good way to do this is to talk about what you want to be known for or be famous for as a team. When you’ve brainstormed some ideas, have a chat about how you need to behave in order to become famous for those things you’ve highlighted. As a simple example, you might decide you want to be known for providing a fast service. So, in order to make that happen, you would need to have some guidelines in place about how quickly you will respond to enquiries. When you have agreed some guidelines, write them down and re-visit them regularly as a team. If a new team member joins the team, the guidelines will be a really useful way of quickly explaining to them what the team stands for and what it wants to become famous for. Performing At this stage of maturity, it’s likely that the team has been together for some time. Each member should be clear on the role they play, who to go to for any information they need, what the team stands for and what they are trying to create. Spend time as team leader making sure that you visibly reward those who deliver what you’ve agreed the team wants to be famous for, and make a point of thanking them for good work. In a mature team, thanking each other for a job well done should be standard practice and this should be role modelled by you as team leader. Stage 1: Forming (or childhood) Forming is the stage when the group first comes together. This is a time of considerable anxiety and feels most like your first day at school, when everything is new and you don’t know anybody or any of the rules of the playground. People are usually very polite and conflict is seldom voiced directly. Since the grouping is new, the individuals will be guarded in their own opinions and generally reserved. The key issues centre around acceptance, trust and personal well-being. In the forming stage, personal relations are characterised by dependence. Group members rely on safe, patterned behaviour and look to the group leader for guidance and direction. If there is no formal or assigned leader, the group tends to defer to a large extent to those who emerge as leaders. Group members have a desire for acceptance by the group and a need to know that the group is safe. They set about gathering impressions and data about the similarities and differences among them and forming preferences for cliques. Rules of behaviour seem to be to keep things simple and to avoid controversy. Serious topics and feelings are avoided. The major task functions also concern orientation. Members attempt to become oriented to the task as well as to one another. Discussion centres around defining the scope of the task, how to approach it, and similar concerns. To grow from this stage to the next, each member must relinquish the comfort of non-threatening topics and risk the possibility of conflict. Top tip In the early days of your team being together, invite them all to take a little time to explain to the other people in the team what experience they have had in working in teams, what has really worked well for them in previous teams, and what they would like to avoid in this team. First things first If you are either meeting a new team for the first time or taking over as the new leader of an established team, the first step is to take the time to introduce yourself to each of the team members. Tell them a little about yourself and what you’d like to achieve with the team. Ask them for their views on how they like to work, and what they’d like to get out of being a member of this team in the next six to 12 months. When you introduce yourself as the new team leader, tell them Your background and experience What really excites you What really annoys you What you expect from a good team member. Characteristics Needs Leadership behaviours Eager, high, often Acceptance Orienting the team unrealistic to the team leader expectations Trust and each other – an Personal well-being issue of trust Anxiety about roles, acceptance, trust, Common Developing a clear demands on them understanding of the and compelling team team’s purpose purpose Tentative, polite, conforming behaviour, Protocols for working Creating a team some testing of charter or protocols to boundaries Clarity of roles and guide behaviour responsibilities – also Lack of clarity about tasks, how work will Clarifying purpose, norms, get done, by whom, roles/responsibilities roles, goals and by when and the structure Setting goals and required skills objectives Dependence upon Clarity on authority for direction Developing team accountability, structure and and support decision making boundaries authority and performance measures Stage 2: Storming (or adolescence) The next stage is referred to as storming. This is a time when individual members feel comfortable enough in the team to begin to challenge decisions. They test the boundaries of authority by arguing their point, standing their ground, and sometimes actively seeking an argument with others in the team – just like teenagers do with their parents. Factions form, personalities clash, sub-groups come to the fore, emotions run high and the authority of the leader is often challenged. Most importantly, very little communication occurs, since no one is listening and some are still unwilling to talk openly. True, this may seem a little extreme for the groups to which you belong – but look beneath the veil of politeness at the power struggles, low trust and competition and conflict in personal relations as the group members attempt to organise for the task, and you may see a picture that is more familiar. Individuals now have to bend and mould their feelings, ideas, attitudes and beliefs to suit the group organisation. Because of fears of exposure or of failure, there will be an increased desire for structural clarification and commitment. Although conflicts may not always surface as group issues, they do exist. Questions will arise about who is going to be responsible for what, what the rules are, what the reward system is, and the precise criteria for evaluation. These reflect conflicts over leadership, structure, power and authority. There may be wide swings in members’ behaviour, due to emerging issues of competition and hostilities. Because of the discomfort generated during this stage, some members may remain completely silent, while others attempt to dominate. The team leader must concentrate on establishing a good, productive atmosphere, cementing solid interpersonal relations between the team members and keeping them focused on a common vision and the tasks and goals agreed. Top tip Don’t fight it! It’s important to realise that what is happening is a very natural process. Often, teams need to have a good argument to clear up certain points. When you see small disagreements beginning to get in the way of the task, encourage the team to talk openly about what’s going on – even if this involves an argument. Teams often feel a desire to shy away from argument because it would be upsetting or rude, yet they generally feel a great sense of release when they have been given the opportunity and permission to ‘get it off their chest’. Dealing with cynics It is at this stage that you are most likely to encounter and have to deal with cynicism. People can be cynical for a whole range of understandable reasons. Common among these is the fact that they may have seen change happen in the past, and not work very effectively. If you are taking over as their new team leader, you may find that these people have seen new team leaders come and go, making promises that weren’t kept. They may have even applied for the role of team leader themselves and been unsuccessful. In all of these cases, it’s important to take the time to listen to their concerns and understand why they feel the way they do. Involving the cynics at a very early stage in planning a project can help to bring them on board quickly. If they are sceptical about team meetings or team awaydays, involve them in the planning. Ask them what they would like to see happen that would improve the situation for them and the team. You can also ask them for advice on what you should and shouldn’t do as team leader to avoid any of the pitfalls experienced with previous leaders. The technique of involving someone early in a process can create an emotional engagement and make them feel more valued and appreciated; as a result, the person often feels more able to contribute positively to the team. Characteristics Needs Leadership behaviours Mismatch between Clarity on purpose Clarify big picture expectations and and direction reality Redefine purpose, Redefinition of goals, roles and Confusion and purpose, goals, roles performance frustration around and performance measures roles and goals measures Refocus on team Dissatisfaction with Refocus on team charter dependence on charter authority Develop and deal with issues of conflict Expression of dissatisfaction Address difficult issues Forming cliques, competition for power Demonstrate high levels of self Feelings of disclosure confusion, incompetence, low Encourage feedback morale and active listening . Stage 3: Norming (or early adulthood) In the norming phase, interpersonal relations are characterised by cohesion and high creativity. The in-fighting subsides and individuals and cliques begin to recognise the merits of working together. Harmony becomes the norm. Since a new spirit of cooperation is evident, every member begins to feel secure in expressing their own view- point and these are discussed openly with the whole group. The most significant improvement is that people start to listen to each other. Group members are engaged in active acknowledgment of all members’ contributions, community building and maintenance, and the solving of group issues. Members are willing to change their preconceived ideas or opinions on the basis of facts presented by other members, and they actively ask questions of one another. Leadership is shared and cliques dissolve. When members begin to know – and identify with – one another, the level of trust in their personal relations contributes to the development of group cohesion. It is during this stage of development (assuming the group gets this far) that people begin to experience a sense of group belonging and a feeling of relief as a result of resolving interpersonal conflicts. The major task function of stage three is the data flow between group members: they now share feelings and ideas, solicit and give feedback to one another, and explore actions related to the task. Creativity is high. If this stage of data flow and cohesion is attained by the group members, their interactions are characterised by openness and sharing of information, on both a personal and task level. They feel good about being part of an effective group. The major drawback of the norming stage is that members may begin to fear the inevitable future break-up of the group, so they may resist change of any sort. Top tip Encourage the norming process by congratulating the team when they listen and work cooperatively. Now is the time to put in place detailed plans, expected standards of work and methods of frequent communication. Encourage the team to collaborate and work together on creating processes and structures that will help them achieve the task. Characteristics Needs Leadership behaviours Increased clarity and More sharing of Beginning to step commitment on roles, control and leadership back, be less directive goals, structure and encourage Continued focus on individuals to assume Increased trust and relationships leadership, as commitment to appropriate values, norms Increased focus on performance and Developing full Increased task productivity as engagement and accomplishment relationships improve participation Growing trust, Further Encouraging harmony, mutual encouragement to interdependence respect recognise and value different perspectives Assessing team Willingness to share and to utilise this to effectiveness and leadership, solve problems more function responsibility and effectively control Recognising and Continued skill valuing differences Understanding and development valuing differences Developing team structure and Tendency to avoid boundaries conflict Rewarding successful achievement of goals and effort / performance . Stage 4: Performing (or maturity) And finally, performing. This is the culmination, when the group has settled on a system which allows free and frank exchange of views and a high degree of support from members of the group for each other and for group decisions. The performing phase is not reached by all groups. If members are able to evolve to stage four, their capacity, range, and depth of personal relations expand to true interdependence. In this stage, people can work independently, in subgroups or as a total unit, with equal levels of effectiveness. The team develops a great sense of flexibility, and their roles and authorities adjust to the changing needs of the group and individuals. This phase is marked by interdependence in personal relations and problem solving. By now, the group should be at its most productive. Individual members have become self- assuring, and the need for group approval is past. Members are both highly task oriented and highly people oriented. There is unity: group identity is complete, group morale and energy is high, and group loyalty is intense. The task function becomes genuine problem solving, leading toward optimal solutions and optimum group development. There is support for experimentation in solving problems and an emphasis on achievement. The overall goal is productivity through problem solving and work. As team members build commitment, trust and support for one another, it will allow them to develop and accomplish desired results. This sense of commitment and trust, plus the resulting self-determination on the part of each team member, is critical in achieving a sustained high level of performance. Team members will learn to appreciate and enjoy one another for who they are and will help keep one another on track. The team will have developed its working methods so that these become an informal set of guidelines. Top tip In this stage, the team needs very little guidance and hands on management. What they need from their team leader is clarity on the boundaries that they can operate within, and permission to be flexible and creative in order to complete the task. You should offer encouragement, empower them to make decisions without your involvement, and step back and take a more strategic long-term view Characteristics Needs Leadership behaviours Clear purpose, Decision making Establishing values, roles, goals authority within alignment with other known boundaries teams Flexibility and shared leadership Focus on task Working with the accomplishments interdependent nature Relationships built of the organisation on trust and mutual Seeking new respect challenges Focus on higher standards of task Recognition of Continued learning accomplishments individual and team and feedback for needs improvement Seeking new challenges Team focuses on Recognition of continuous success and Continued learning improvement achievement and feedback for individual and group Optimal productivity improvement and high standards Recognition of success and achievement . Stage 5: Adjourning (or retiring) Tuckman’s final stage, adjourning, involves the termination of task behaviours and disengagement from relationships. It is a stage that is frequently reached by project teams, who have a limited lifespan. A planned conclusion usually includes recognition for participation and achievement, and an opportunity for members to say personal goodbyes. Concluding a group can create some apprehension – in effect, a minor crisis. The termination of the group is a regressive movement, which raises anxieties ranging from giving up control to giving up inclusion in the group. The most effective interventions at this stage are those that facilitate task termination and the disengagement process. When teams don’t go through a process of disengagement, members can often feel ‘unfinished’ and continue to encourage the old team to meet up and re-live the good times they had together. Top tip Take the time – and spend the money – to ensure that the team has an ‘event’ to recognise what they have collectively achieved, and to signpost the fact that the team is breaking up. The team will value your thoughts and praise as team leader as the task ends, and will also value the opportunity to say their goodbyes to each other as they move on to new challenges. . Attributes of a high-performing team How do you know you are building a good team? After all, from what you see, everyone attends, shows up on time, and participates in your meetings and team events. Each of the team members seems to get on OK and you are achieving your tasks. So you must be building a good team – right? Here’s a checklist of things that should exist in a good team environment. Does your team exhibit the following characteristics? A high level of inter-dependence among team members Team members have developed mutual trust The team is clear about goals and establishes targets Team member roles are defined Each team member is willing to contribute There’s an environment of healthy contention and communication Team members can examine failure without slipping into personal attacks The team has a capacity to create new ideas Each member knows he can influence the team agenda The leader has good people skills and is committed to a team approach. When asked to explain the differences between an effective team and a dysfunctional team, people tend to observe the following: In effective teams In less effective teams There is a common purpose to which each team There is no common purpose. Meetings are not member is committed. The team meets held regularly and the meeting agendas are not regularly and they use team meeting agendas clear. as a guide for discussion rather than as a fixed process. Members are clear about the rules of Members are not clear about the rules of engagement and are committed to some form engagement and there is no written of team charter. guide/protocol or team charter. Team members listen, pay attention to one People do not listen and everyone tends to talk another and discuss the subject at hand. at the same time. Each team member has a chance to state his or Some members' ideas don't seem to count, so her views. they feel undervalued or as if they don't belong. As a result they check-out or disengage from the process. No one summarises or checks to see if everyone who wants to speak has actually spoken. Discussions go on and on until people get tired. One or two people do all the talking. Each member commits to group decisions and is Decision making is muddy and people are not held accountable. committed to the plans. Team members are aware of each other’s Team members don’t know much about each strengths and weaknesses, and take these into other. account. Proactive approach When the team resources are focused and members are all working to accomplish the same purpose, teamwork can be very rewarding and productive. This is best accomplished when team members use a proactive rather than reactive approach to accomplish their purpose (adapted from Adams, 1987). The proactive approach manifests the seven characteristics described below. 1. The team members take a very positive approach in jointly determining the way they are going to work together as a team and what they want to have happen. When individuals and the entire team choose to operate this way and are willing to set petty differences aside, unbelievable results become possible. When individuals adopt this attitude and commit to use their resources, knowledge, and skills to contribute to the goals of the team, alignment with the team's overall purpose comes about. This will not happen unless both the team leader and the rest of the team choose to do so. 2. Having a well-defined purpose or vision of what the team will accomplish is a very powerful force for the team leader and members. Goals are aligned with the team purpose, and team members are empowered to accomplish the goals. This process leads to a high level of team productivity. 3. Team members have a positive attitude towards change and are willing to accept and allow change to occur as needed in order to accomplish desired results. 4. Team members understand that patience is required and that, for some goals, a long-term commitment is needed to accomplish the desired results. 5. The interests of both the team leader and team members are focused on desired results rather than on short-term problem-solving activities. If people learn to focus simultaneously on both the current situation and the desired results, problems that arise will be solved as part of the total process of achieving the desired results. 6. Team members have a strong feeling of control within the team. They are able to establish priorities and then commit time and resources to accomplishing these tasks. 7. Team members verbally and publicly support each other. They recognise that negative comments about others tear the team down. . The team leader’s role What are the critical knowledge and skills for a team leader? Team diagnostic knowledge and skills – observing and understanding team dynamics and team development Team leadership and intervention – knowing how and when to respond to the team, given the team’s stage of development Interpersonal and team skills – establishing effective team processes in the areas of alignment, decision making, communication, problem solving, conflict management, performance measures, values and norms Seven characteristics of good team leaders An effective team leader will Create a positive climate with a shared vision Help develop a set of principles Liaise between the team and upper management Encourage team member growth Be fair Be supportive Give direction where needed. There are several ways in which the team leader can contribute to creating a positive climate within the team. One of the most powerful forces is to put forward, in cooperation with team members, an exciting vision/purpose of what the team is to achieve. Once the vision is developed, it needs to be kept in front of the team members as a reminder of what they wish to accomplish. The team leader can provide the leadership for helping the team develop an understood and accepted set of principles that will contribute to their success. Included in this set of principles should be norms for operating within the group, criteria for evaluating success, standards for determining quality of performance, and an identified reward system to recognise the team's successes. The team leader should be the liaison between the team and upper management. The team leader needs to know and work with upper management to obtain a full commitment from them in support of the team's programme. However, when this happens, team members must realise that they have a major responsibility to make the maximum use of the resources and support provided. The team leader can encourage team member growth, and should be willing to take some risk by having members whose resources are relevant to the immediate task provide the leadership. The team leader should be fair, supportive, and recognised by team members as one who can make final judgments, work with upper management, and give direction to the team as needed. Team leaders and members who make a conscious, sustained effort to make these seven characteristics a part of their mindset will find that the effective accomplishment of desired results will be much higher than would otherwise be the case. . Running a team or group session Any meeting should be considered as a teambuilding event, even the regular weekly or monthly meeting. Whenever and wherever the team gets together, think about the implications and possibilities in relation to helping the team perform. You may also organise other, more formal activities, exercises or group events, as well as other social activities such as ten-pin bowling. Whatever you are doing, certain variables can have a significant influence on the way the activity works. Consider what impact the following factors might have on the well- being and effectiveness of your team: The size and location of the team The skills of team leaders and facilitators The style of team leaders and facilitators Members’ personality traits, beliefs and values Psychometrics testing and theory Gender and age differences Members’ fitness levels and abilities Team dynamics and team spirit Learning styles and coaching methods Individual and collective experiences Clear briefing and guidance on tasks The length of the project and planning Reward and recognition The venue and room layout Materials provided or made available The roles and responsibilities of facilitator, record keeper, reviewer or presenter The rules – if the activity is a competition or team league Note For more formal and carefully-considered exercises and games to tackle team issues or develop specific skills, such as leadership, cooperation, communication, planning and time-management, we would suggest that you call on the services of an outside consultant who specialises in team building (see When to get an external consultant). Planning a team session – practical considerations Below are some questions that will help you to plan a team session/meeting. Who will attend the meeting? Who is in the team? Where will the team meet? What props do I need? What will be the duration and frequency of meetings? How many people will participate in the team? What is the purpose of the team? What is the purpose of this meeting? What outcomes would I like to get from this meeting? In other words, when the meeting is over, what do I want the team members to be doing, saying and feeling? What are the key topics of discussion for this meeting? Can I develop a session-by-session plan? To what degree will sessions be structured? What will be the team ground rules? How will these be agreed? How will I prepare team members for the meeting? What problems can I expect to run into, and how will I deal with those? How will I handle dropouts? What paperwork/documentation will be required? How will I assess and measure the effectiveness of the meeting? The timing When should you have meetings and how often? That depends on how often your team need to discuss key issues. For example, if you are running a critical project on a tight timeline, you might need to meet every day. In more normal business situations, teams typically meet once a fortnight or once a month. Our strong recommendation would be to bring the team together for a meeting on at least a monthly basis; you certainly shouldn’t leave more than three months between meetings, even in exceptional circumstances. Some ways to start a team meeting 1. Run an initial session on ‘expectations’: go around the room and have each member state what he/she wants from the upcoming session. 2. As leader, share your thoughts about where the group is at, how it is progressing, ways the group might be getting stuck and so on. 3. Ask members if they have any unresolved feelings or thoughts about the previous session: ‘Did anyone have any after thoughts or leftover feelings about last week's session?’ 4. Have each member complete the sentence, ‘Today, I'd like to get actively involved by...’ Some ways to end a team meeting 1. Ask members to tell the group briefly what they learned about themselves through their relationships with other members in that particular session. 2. Ask, ‘What was it like for you to be in this group today?’ 3. Instruct, ‘Let's do a quick go-around and have everyone say a few words on how the group is progressing so far and make any suggestions for change.’ 4. Indicate, ‘Before we close today, I'd like to share with you some of my reactions and observations of this session.’ 5. Invite team members to quickly describe what worked well during the meeting, and what the team could improve on in the next meeting. 6. Determine if there are any issues that members would like to return to or explore in the next session. Some tips... ...on how to have effective meetings: Prepare – make sure you have an agenda and any information you need to hand before the meeting. Venue – plan your meeting in an appropriate space. It may be acceptable to have a team meeting in a ‘huddle’ round a table in open plan, or you may need a private room. Think about the atmosphere you want to create when selecting a venue. Communicate – make sure that everyone has a copy of the agenda well in advance of the meeting. If you expect team members to lead a piece of the agenda, prepare them in advance and coach them if necessary. Chair – appoint a chairperson for the meeting. This may be you or someone else, but the role is crucial to effective meetings. The chair will usually Introduce an agenda item Clarify if the item is for information or decision Clarify how long the item has been allocated on the agenda Invite quiet team members to join the conversation Invite more ‘wordy’ team members to allow others the opportunity to offer a view Summarise the discussion and check what the team have agreed Keep the agenda to time. Record decisions and outputs – keep a note of the key decisions made and who was involved in making them. You don’t necessarily have to have formal minutes, but you should have at least a rough record of what was agreed and the actions to be taken. It can be very helpful to review this at your next meeting to ensure you don’t repeat work or re-open a decision that’s already been made. Communicate (again!) – ensure that all of those present (and those who offered apologies) get a copy of the record of the meeting, along with any actions taken from the meeting Also see the topics on Meetings and Facilitation. . Ideal conditions for teambuilding Teambuilding works best when the following conditions are met (adapted from Francis and Young, 1979). 1. There is a high level of interdependence among team members. The team is working on important tasks to which each team member has a commitment and where teamwork is critical for achieving the desired results. 2. Team members develop a mutual trust for each other and believe that other team members have skills and capabilities to contribute to the team. 3. The team is clear about its important goals and establishes performance targets that are stretching but achievable. 4. The roles of team members are defined, and effective ways to solve problems and communicate are developed and supported by all team members. 5. Each team member is willing to contribute their individual information, skills and experiences to provide an appropriate mix for achieving the team's purpose. 6. The team develops a climate in which people feel relaxed and able to be direct and open in their communications. 7. Both the team and individual members are prepared to take risks and are allowed to develop their abilities and skills. 8. Team members know how to examine team and individual errors and weaknesses without making personal attacks; the blame-free atmosphere enables the group to learn from its experiences. 9. Team efforts are devoted to the achievement of results, and team performance is frequently evaluated to see where improvements can be made. 10. The team has the capacity to create new ideas through group interaction and the influence of outside people. Good ideas are followed up and people are rewarded for innovative risk taking. 11. Each member of the team knows that he or she can influence the team agenda. There is a feeling of trust and equal influence among team members that facilitates open and honest communication. 12. The team leader has good people skills, is committed to developing a team approach, and allocates time to team-building activities. Team management is seen as a shared function, and team members are given the opportunity to exercise leadership when their experiences and skills are appropriate to the needs of the team. When to get an external consultant Within this topic, we’ve painted a picture of the essential basics of teambuilding and how every team goes through the same stages of development. In most cases, team leaders can and do lead and encourage the team successfully through these stages to a point where the team is effective and productive. However, it is undeniable that there can be sticky moments, when it feels as though the individual personalities within the team are clashing or there is something unmentionable that is holding the team back and when, no matter what the leader does, it seems the team cannot align itself behind a common goal. More often than not these issues are invisible to the leader or, if they are visible, there is little commitment from the team members to face up to the issues and deal with them. When a team is dysfunctional, it’s not always easy to know what to do or even to know if you are the right person to do it. Often, the answer is to introduce a third party – an objective ‘outsider’ who can facilitate discussions within the team and create an environment whereby the issues can be placed on the table for all to see. The benefit of having outside help or an external facilitator is that you, as the team leader, can participate fully in the team development process. This is crucial, since you are a vital part of the team. Facilitators focus on the ‘process’ aspects of team functioning; they contribute to the team’s effectiveness through the use of a variety of facilitation techniques, from the light-touch to a directive style. Typical engagements where a facilitator may be appropriate include Establishing a team vision and setting goals Team and organisation objective setting Effective team meetings and team problem solving Dispute resolution and mediation Root cause analysis Breakthrough thinking Establishing a change strategy and change management Business planning Team review and feedback sessions. Key point A dysfunctional team is an expense no organisation should be prepared to carry. We would argue that the key to choosing when to employ an external facilitator is first to recognise the hidden costs involved in allowing a dysfunctional team to continue. Quite apart from the costs involved in duplicated effort, revisiting decisions and rework, when a team disintegrates there may be redundancy and recruitment costs and costs due to time delays in production. There may also be wider consequences for the organisation as a whole if the team is not functioning correctly – this is especially true when the team is the executive or most senior team. There is a separate topic on Hiring a consultant. . Common approaches to teambuilding Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr There are many approaches to teambuilding and your choice will depend on what your outcome is for the team and on what is available by way of time, budget and facilities. Teambuilding events are extremely popular and can be enormously beneficial in the early stages of team development, creating a bond and a sense of trust between individual team members. Events are normally designed to take people out of their ‘comfort zone’ by encouraging them to take part in activities which are more challenging than a regular office job. Other events are run simply to provide fun, adrenaline-packed activities that enable the team to relax, enjoy themselves, get to know each other, and feel rewarded for their efforts. Outdoor activities This is the type of activity most people think about when you mention ‘teambuilding’. People conjure up mental images of leaping off mountains, abseiling down cliffs, and rafting white water canyons. Events of this type are extremely popular and can be enormously beneficial in the early stages of team development, creating a bond and a sense of trust between individual team members. These events are usually designed and run by qualified instructors, who can ensure that the team have a safe environment in which to challenge themselves. Events are normally designed to take people out of their ‘comfort zone’ by encouraging them to take part in activities which are more challenging than a regular office job. The given tasks normally involve the team working together to achieve something, and then reviewing how they did as a team and what they could do to improve their performance. Alternatively, events can be run simply to provide fun, adrenaline-packed activities that enable to team to relax, enjoy themselves, get to know each other, and feel rewarded for their efforts. Although these events continue to be very popular, there is a view that it is difficult to bring the learning from these events back into the workplace. From the point of view of building trust, there is little argument that these events help to create a team bond. However, when it comes to task completion or group unity, it can be more difficult to see a difference in the workplace, simply because the tasks completed in outdoor events are so radically different to the tasks completed back in the workplace. Tasks and team activities can also be run in the grounds of a training establishment or inside a classroom. These may not have the same access to an adrenaline rush for the participants, but can be very valuable if designed well and followed by a well facilitated review. Exercise Rather than organise a complex ‘adrenaline event’, think about the benefits of creating a common experience for your team. When a team does something together, they can create a common language, something they will talk about for months to come and perhaps laugh about. These kinds of ‘bonding’ moment can be really useful in the early stages of developing a team. Think about arranging something simple for the team to do together: go to the local pub; take part in a pub quiz as a team, or two competing teams; do something for a local charity or community; take part in a charity event, or go to the races together. Any of these things, and many more, can be done for very little cost and without any great organisation – and they can bring huge benefits in creating a common experience for the team to share. Team questionnaires Questionnaires can be a useful way to stimulate a conversation in the team, encouraging the members to talk about how they feel and suggest ways that the team could improve the way it works. Exercise Select one of the questionnaires that follow, and either hand them out to your team members in advance of a meeting or ask them to complete them during a meeting. Use the differences in the questionnaire responses to encourage a conversation: Who has a strong view about each question? How do these different views come about? Why do we have different views? What can we do to resolve any issues that are raised by the questionnaire? What can we do to change the views we have? How can we come together as a team with one common view of our performance? 1. Team effectiveness survey (PDF) (Word) Survey results form (PDF) (Word) 2. Team diagnostic (PDF) (Word) Team models As well as questionnaires, you can use models to inform and encourage discussion within a team about how the team is functioning. Models can be a useful way to stimulate a conversation in the team and encourage the members of your team to talk about how they feel and suggest ways that the team could improve the way it works. Exercise Select one of the models that follow, and hand out some information on them to your team members in advance of a meeting. Use the models to encourage a conversation: Does this model make sense? How do we fit or not fit the model? What can we learn from the model? Discuss differences in opinions about the model How do these different views come about? Why do we have different views? What can we do to resolve any issues that are raised by the model? What can we do to change the views we have? How can we come together as a team with one common view of our performance? The FIT model John Adair model FIT model When we think about high-performing teams, it can often be difficult to identify exactly what it is that they do in order to create high performance. The FIT (Functioning Integrated Team) Model breaks down the performance of teams into the key elements that differentiate high-performing teams from the norm. Elements of high performance teams Let’s look at each of these elements in turn. Team purpose The team purpose must be aligned with that of the organisation. The purpose identifies the work of the team and why it is important. It provides direction for setting goals that guide the team’s actions. More... Outputs The team should be clear about what it actually produces. If the team produces a product (for example, a car on a production line) then the output can be easily stated and identified. Many management teams are unclear about what they actually produce, since it’s typically direction, leadership, communication, decisions, influence and so on. More... Performance measures Performance measures identify the measurable outcomes, accomplishments and so on that are needed to be successful. More... Inputs This means the teams’ source of information or supplies. If the team is measured on delivering an output within a specified range of quality, then the quality and timeliness of the input is extremely important in producing the output. Teams must be clear on what their inputs are. For management teams, this can be difficult to define. More... Core work processes This means the core work and support processes required for the team to achieve its goals and objectives in the most effective way. More... Objectives and priorities What are the core tasks and goals the team aims to complete, and in which order of importance are they held? More... Decision making and information processes Decision making is the process the team uses to make decisions. This defines the scope of individual’s and the team’s responsibility in decision making. More... Team structure, roles and locations Derived from the team’s purpose, these define the major functional areas involved in achieving the team’s purpose. More... Team values, norms and behaviours Team norms and values are ground rules that identify appropriate behaviours for team members. More... Membership, competencies and commitments You need to define the strengths and weaknesses of each team member as the basis upon which an individual and team development plan can be created. More... Individual and team reward systems Performance and reward systems should be unique to the team and yet aligned with the business. More... Team culture To a great degree, the culture and environment within which your team operates will be created by you and your style of leadership. More... Above the line and below the line Take another look at the FIT Model. You will see a line running through the middle of the diagram. This represents the fact that teams always operate on two different levels: above the line and below the line. Your above-the-line agenda describes the intellectual or ‘task’ agenda for the team – are we all clear on our purpose, our performance measures, our personal objectives and priorities and so on. As a starting point for a new manager, it’s important to focus on being very clear about your above-the-line agenda. From day one, it’s important that people understand what they are being asked to do. Your below-the-line agenda describes the emotional or ‘process’ agenda for the team – are we all clear on what we value as a team, what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in this team, how we are rewarded as a team, as individuals and so on. In reality, all teams operate on both agendas at the same time. If you think about it, you may be involved in a conversation about a technical issue that needs to be resolved (the intellectual agenda) and, at the same time, you may feel either pleased or really unhappy about the way the subject is being addressed or the way you are being treated (the emotional agenda). These things happen at the same time; they happen every day to all of us. What makes high-performing teams stand out is, first of all, the fact that they recognise that those two agendas are happening together and, secondly, that they are willing to spend time discussing and agreeing their below-the-line or emotional agenda. Top tip Make time with your team to discuss what you want to value, the behaviour that you expect from each other and how you will reward each other. For example, you might agree that as a team you will either value speed over bureaucracy or you will value paying attention to detail. You might agree that the behaviour you expect from each other is to be on time for meetings and appointments, or to deliver on any actions you take away from meetings, for example. Team purpose Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes. Ralph Waldo Emerson It’s critically important that members of your team understand what the whole organisation is trying to achieve what the team is trying to achieve and how this particular team helps the organisation to achieve its goals. Exercise Team purpose In a team meeting, ask each member of your team to write down their view as to what the purpose of the team is. Ask them to write this on a post-it note, and then stick all of the post-its on the wall or a flipchart. A prompt for this discussion is to ask the team to think about why the organisation continues to pay the team – what do they do together that helps the organisation? As team leader, you should ask the team questions: Where do they see similarities? Where do they see differences? Add your view, and lead a discussion to find out if you can all agree on some words that describe the purpose of the whole team. It’s important to involve your team in this discussion rather than just writing down your own thoughts and presenting your view to them. Each individual will feel more engaged and involved as a member of the team if you ask them what they think the purpose of the team should be. A simple activity you can try is to ask the team: If we all left the company and set up a separate private company providing exactly the same service, how would we describe what we do to attract customers? The answer will usually be a pretty good example of your team purpose. An alternative exercise is to ask members what they want the team to be famous for. You can adapt the exercise to look at team performance measures and team outputs. Outputs Once the team is clear on its purpose and why it exists, you should spend time thinking through what the team actually produces as an output. If your team operates a production line manufacturing 100 widgets a day, then the outputs of the team are pretty clear. But if your team provides a service or is a pure management team, then outputs can be harder to identify, but are definitely worth some thought. For example, if the Board of Management of a car manufacturer were asked what their output was, they might say, ‘We build and sell cars’. In reality, however, they have staff to do those things for them, while the output they create as a board is quite different. It’s likely that their outputs as a team will include direction, vision, strategy documents, decisions, communication, motivation of staff and so on. Exercise Try asking your team to go and talk to their key customers or stakeholders, inside or outside the organisation. Team members should ask their customers what the team produces as an output that the customer values. Bring the team together for an hour and share their views on what your customers value about your output. You might find through this exercise that you produce something of value as a team that you weren’t even aware of! For instance, a customer might say they really like the warm relationship you create with them – that’s a team output, and it might make you think about making ‘building warm relationships’ a team priority. . Performance measures It’s important for each individual to be aware of what they need to do and how they need to perform in order to be successful as a member of your team. It might be that your organisation measures hard statistical data on what the team produces: how many, how quickly and so on. Alternatively, they might measure the team against a set of brand values or corporate ground rules. As team leader, it’s your job to make sure that you understand what the team is trying to achieve (Team purpose); what they actually produce (Outputs), and how they will be measured (Performance measures). If every team leader we’ve met understood these three key aspects of team performance, teams around the world would be much more effective! Exercise Ask each member of the team what they think the team is measured on. In other words, how do they know when the team is being successful? Remember that this is not about asking them to define their own personal performance measures – this activity is inviting them to articulate what they think the whole team gets measured on by others. This discussion should help to clarify any confusion or misunderstanding the team has about when they are deemed successful. For example, if the team sells widgets, it might be that you have some people selling while others complete orders and produce paperwork. Individually, they might be measured on the number of sales or accuracy of order forms and so on. However, as a team, if they are collectively measured on the amount of money banked from completed sales, then they must work together to make sure that, for every transaction, not only does the sales person close the deal, but the admin staff complete the order form and receive payment within the set timescales for each order. In this situation, you could have a very successful individual sales person in your team, but the team as a whole could still be failing to hit targets if the admin work has not been completed accurately and on time. For other ideas, see the topics Performance Management and Performance Management (People). Inputs This one might seem a bit odd, but it’s worth thinking through to check your team are sure about the inputs they need in order to do a good job. Let’s think about a team of people building a car. Their job is to work together to create a car from a series of components that come from a number of different suppliers. The team might be measured on the number of complete, fault-free cars they produce each day. Inputs are a very important aspect of creating high performance for this team. If their suppliers are sending faulty or sub-standard gearboxes, for example, then once the car is built, it may not pass inspection and may not be considered ‘fault free’. As a result, the team may have to spend time removing the faulty gearbox and replacing it. This in turn will slow them down and reduce the number of fault-free cars they can produce. In this situation, it’s unlikely they would be seen as a high-performing team in the eyes of their managers. But what can they do about it? Well, if they can identify which of their inputs are essential to their success, and help their suppliers to understand just how important it is for the team to have high quality inputs, they are much more likely to succeed. Exercise Get the team together around a flipchart and use the ‘FIT’ model to help them understand the importance of the different aspects of creating a high-performing team. Ask them to ‘brainstorm’ the inputs they need. Do they need Products (such as gearboxes), which must be produced to a high quality and delivered on time? Services (such as IT support), which must be delivered within a specific timescale? Information (decisions, data, or management information), which must be delivered in a specified format or within a specific timescale? Then ask them to discuss which of these inputs are absolutely essential to the success of the team: which ones would stop you from doing your work if they weren’t produced? Highlight the prioritised inputs on the flipchart. Next, ask them to identify where each of these inputs comes from: do we know where our inputs come from; if not, can we find out? If you know where they come from, and who produces them, record it on your flipchart. Finally, ask them to comment on the quality of the inputs they have recorded on the flipchart – are they delivered in a way that makes it easy for the team to do their job? Use a simple high, medium and low rating scale on your flipchart. By now, you should have a full list of the inputs the team needs to do their job, plus a prioritised list of those inputs that are essential for the team’s success, a list of where those inputs come from, and a list with ratings showing how helpful those inputs are for the team. If the answer to any of the questions above is ‘don’t know’, as team leader, you should then focus on finding the answers to the ‘don’t knows’. The next step If any of the answers have highlighted areas of concern for the team, as team leader, you should next focus your efforts on the priority list of inputs the team has identified. Think about approaching either your manager or the person who provides the input and discussing with them what can be done to improve the quality, timeliness and so on of the input. If you start the conversation with an explanation of the importance of the input, and how heavily your team rely on that input, you’re likely to get a warmer response than if you were to simply ask for a change in procedure. . Core work processes This is similar to Inputs, and it is equally important that you work through these with your team. Let’s go back to the team building cars. It’s likely that there are several processes that they repeat for every car, and these processes will be crucial to the success of the team. A process is simply an activity that helps the team deliver its goals; this can include things that the team do themselves, as well as things that other teams do to support your team (although these services from others could also be considered Inputs). If your team builds cars, a core process might be ordering parts when they are needed. Fitting a gearbox may be a core process, or it might be that you are dependant on robot welding systems and require those systems to be working accurately and regularly maintained, which means that a core process will be keeping a good relationship with the people responsible for maintaining the robot systems. Exercise You may be able to do this yourself or you might like to involve the team in this as an activity: repeat the exercise in Inputs, but this time list the core work processes your team are responsible for. Ask how well they work and whether it’s clear who in your team ‘owns’ those processes. . Objectives and priorities Now that you understand your team purpose, outputs and performance measures, you can concentrate on what you need to focus on as a team! In successful organisations, there is normally a published ambition or vision (for example, Disney’s vision is ‘to make people happy’). This describes what the company is about and what it’s trying to achieve. Within the organisation, each team will have a set of objectives that directly align them to that vision, so they can see a line of sight between what they are doing and how that helps the company to succeed. (For instance, Disney’s animation studio may have an objective about creating funny movies which make people happy.) Every individual within each team will then have a set of personal objectives that describes what they are responsible for. This should help them to see how what they are doing contributes to the team’s objectives and then to the organisational vision (for example, an animator in Disney may have an objective about drawing one character in a movie which will make people happy). The wording of these objectives does not have to exactly reflect the vision or ambition, but the team should be able to see how it connects them to the organisation. One way to think of this is the obejectives at different levels are like Russian dolls, each fitting inside the larger one. An objective should simply state what you will do (the task), how you will do it (the process you will use), when you will do it (the timescale) and to what level of performance (the quality measure). Exercise A good way to create objectives is to think about priorities for the team as a whole. Get the team together and ask them what they are currently working on and what they consider to be their priorities. Ask them to share this information by just talking it out in a regular conversation. Give each person ten minutes to describe the priorities they focus on in their day-to-day jobs. Ask the team, ‘What do you think I, as team leader, would say our team priorities are?’ Record their thoughts on a flipchart. Ask the team ‘What do you think my boss would say our team priorities are?’ The aim here is to get them to lift their heads from their everyday work and take a look at what the team is collectively expected to achieve. Finally, you should work together in this session to agree the wording of one objective that each team member will agree to have as one of their own personal objectives and their priority. Let’s go back to the example of the Disney team tasked with creating a funny movie. The individuals who do a great job drawing their character will have personal objectives to draw that character within an agreed timescale and to a specified quality. In addition, they will have at least one objective which is identical to that of everyone else in the team – something along the lines of ‘I will work with my team colleagues to create a high quality animated film which will make people happy. We will complete our film by (month, year)’ When the team members leave this session, they should each have a clear understanding that drawing one character is not enough on its own. They also have a responsibility to support each other, help each other, develop each other and work together to create a team outcome. . Decision-making and information processes The processes of making decisions and then communicating them effectively and consistently are absolutely vital to the success of any high-performing team. Simple decisions need to be taken quickly, while complex decisions need to be considered and taken carefully. It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But it’s surprising how often complex decisions get taken quickly, without due consideration or thought for the consequences. An easy way to consider and decide which team decisions can be made quickly and which need more careful consideration is to complete an ‘urgent versus important’ grid. Think about the next three months in the life of your team: what decisions will have to be made in that time? It’s likely that there will be many different issues to deal with and many different decisions to be made. Using the grid, try to allocate your issues into one of the four boxes. Exercise Here’s an opportunity for you to practise using the grid. Let’s assume you are the leader of the team building cars. In the next three months, you have to deal with the following issues and make decisions about them. Practise using the grid by allocating these issues into the different boxes on the grid: Finding a new gearbox supplier before Christmas Choosing a new uniform for the team Starting disciplinary action against a member of the team Getting the vending machine fixed Booking a hotel for a conference trip in three months’ time Working out the shift roster for next week Arranging an award presentation for a successful member of the team Organising the agenda for a visit by the Managing Director in six weeks Deciding on a colour of paint for the staff toilets. For most team leaders who are familiar with their jobs, completing a grid like this can be done on a scrap of paper relatively quickly. Working through the list of issues you have to deal with in the next week or month, you can begin to categorise them into the four different groups shown. Once you have your issues categorised, it’s much easier to see which need to be dealt with immediately. Bottom right box issues (not urgent and not important) should be ignored, or passed onto someone else to deal with, freeing up your time for more important decisions. Top right box issues (important but not urgent) should be given careful consideration and dealt with before they become urgent. Bottom left box issues (urgent but not important) should be decided on quickly and not fretted over. Top left box issues (urgent and important) should be allocated special attention, and you should dedicate some time to deal with them. Who’s involved? Some of the issues shown in the example above need to be to be dealt with by the team leader alone, while others should involve the whole team. For example, the task of finding a new gearbox supplier should probably involve the whole team – they may have experience of different suppliers or contacts and relationships with different people around the company who can help. If you decide to involve the team in decision making, it’s important to have a clear decision-making process that you go through. Many teams we work with make very fast decisions and sometimes don’t take all of the relevant facts into account before reaching those decisions. Other teams will think they have made a decision, but when they leave the meeting, everyone might have a slightly different view of what was agreed. Here’s a simple process you can apply to make this a little more clear: 1. Decide who needs to be involved in the decision and invite them to a meeting 2. Explain that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss and agree a particular subject, and that the outcome you are looking for is a decision that everyone can agree with 3. Allocate a specific amount of time for the debate, to avoid it getting out of control 4. Start by asking people to think about all the different options that might be open to the team – in the example of changing the gearbox supplier, an option would be to stick with your existing supplier and do nothing 5. Use a flipchart to record all of the options the team come up with; don’t discount any of them – this is called an ‘opening up’ process and the aim is to get as many ideas or options out as you can 6. Next, ask the team to discuss each option in turn. Take your time over this, discussing the merits of each idea, and try to narrow all of the options down to one or two 7. Finally, ask the team to come to an agreement as to which option they want to go with. At the end of the discussion, ask every member of the team to summarise out loud what they think has been agreed. If team members have different views as to what has been agreed, this may start off a new debate. If this happens, look on it as a good outcome, because if you had not checked understanding at the end of the meeting, everyone would have left thinking they had agreed different things. Lead the discussion to clarify any misunderstandings and finally reach team agreement. Top tip Keep in mind how easy it is for teams to think they have made a decision, and then leave the room with several different ideas about what has been agreed. Avoid this by summarising the decisions that have been taken. Do this by asking individuals around the team to tell you what they think has been decided and agreed. Make sure that any misunderstandings are clarified before the end of a team meeting. Communication An important part of what we’ve called ‘information processes’ concerns how you communicate with each other in a team context, and how the team communicates with staff, managers and stakeholders in the business. Top tip Consider holding weekly ‘team huddles’ – informal meetings held around a coffee machine to discuss the real issues that the team need to be aware of. Sometimes this can be an update from you as the team leader, but it’s best to avoid getting into a habit of delivering ‘church notice’ kind of updates and try to engage the team in a conversation. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask some broad, open questions, such as, ‘What hot topics will we be facing this week?’, or ‘What issues are bubbling under the surface that we need to be ready for?’ Remember that a team should be communicating with each other all the time, and not just in meetings. Consider ways that you can share information on a regular basis outside meetings. This might include emails, teleconferences, team huddles, presentations and so on. Team structure, roles and location What I need is someone who will make me do what I can. Ralph Waldo Emmerson Team structure, roles and locations – this is a topic that tends to be overlooked by most team leaders. When you are appointed as a new team leader, it’s very common that you inherit a team of people who are already working on a project, completing a process, or getting on with a piece of work. It’s worth taking a moment to go to the page on Team core work processes, and ask yourself this question: Do I have the best team structure in order to deliver those core work processes? Are you clear on how well those processes work? Are you clear as to who in your team is accountable for each of your core processes? If your team structure is unhelpful and doesn’t allow you to effectively deliver the key pieces of work you are responsible for, then you have to consider your role, and the level of responsibility you have to change things. Do you have the authority to change your team structure, or do you need the support of a senior manager to help you do that? Team roles The best executive is the one who has the sense to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self- restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt It’s critically important that your team understand the various roles of each member of the team at two different levels: 1. The role of the team leader versus the role of a team member 2. The role of every member of the team. Role clarity is essential for high-performing teams. People need to understand their own role and what is expected of them, and they need to know who does what around the team so they can go to the right person for help or advice when they need it. Crucially, they need to understand what you expect of them as team leader, and you need to understand what they need from you in order to create the right environment for them to perform in. Top tip Consider holding a series of ‘Teach-ins’, where each member of your team takes a turn at presenting his or her role. They will explain what they are responsible for; the key things they deliver, and the help they need from the other team members to deliver their part of the process. These sessions can be informal, with one person taking a turn each month. Some teams we work with have lunch together once a month and hold a ‘Lunch and Learn’ session. Exercise This activity can help you clarify the roles of team members and your role as team leader. 1. Get the team together for an hour and ask them this: what do you expect of a team leader? De-personalise it by asking them to consider what they expect of any team leader, whether it’s you or someone who may lead the team after you. It’s very important that you don’t ask them what they expect of you personally, because there is a chance that they will be less willing to be open about their feelings. Record their thoughts on a flipchart and have them typed up as a reminder to yourself and to them of what you agreed. 2. Repeat the process, but this time ask the team: what do you expect of each other as members of this team? This is an opportunity for them to think about what they want from their peers, which links to the activity described in the section on Team Values, Norms and Behaviours. Again, you should record their thoughts on a flipchart and have them typed up as a reminder. 3. Finally, tell the team the answer to this question: what I, as team leader, expect of members of this team is this... Record your thoughts on flipchart, and ask the team if they understand your expectations. Invite questions from the team to work through any misunderstandings or disagreements. Location For most teams, location is not an issue. The vast majority of teams tend to sit together and work together in one office or factory. However, some teams can find themselves spread across a range of buildings on a site, or perhaps even in different cities or countries. In such cases, it becomes even more important for you to put in place methods to maintain communication between meetings, and you can refer to Decision-making and information processes for some help in that area. For this section, we are concerned with how the location of team members either helps or hinders the effectiveness of the team. It may be that you have two team members who sit on a different floor to the rest of the team. Rather than simply accept that as the ‘norm’, you should ask yourself, as team leader, how the location of these two team members impacts on the team’s ability to focus on its core processes and deliver its key objectives. If location has no impact, or a very minor impact, then you don’t need to do anything about it. However, if having two team members on a different floor wastes time or affects your ability to work effectively, you should find out who you would need to influence in order to make a change to their location. There may be a buildings or premises manager to contact, or it maybe your own direct line manager could help you. It is not possible to give a definitive answer here as to what you need to do in these circumstances. The important thing is to think through the implications of your team’s location, and not to simply accept things as they are, especially if it has a detrimental effect on your team’s performance. Communicating at a distance If the team is scattered over several locations, then of course you should, at a simple level, make sure they all have accurate and up-to-date contact numbers for each other. It’s surprising how often people let communication slip because someone has moved office and changed phone numbers or email accounts. Providing a structure for regular communication can be a big help for remote teams. A weekly teleconference can be a good way of building up a habit of regular communication in the team. Here are some other methods to improve communication: Ask the team how they would like to communicate Ask them to consider the value they could get from regular communication with their colleagues Identify whether communication is something that the team want to value (if people see communication as a valuable commodity, it’s easier for them to engage with it) Make it fun! In your weekly conference calls add in a ‘Movie Review’ section, or a ‘Best Night Out’ section to encourage people to participate. Team values, norms and behaviours We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are. Talmudic Saying The team’s values are represented in our model as a large oblong foundation stone on which the team’s performance can be built. Regardless of how well each member of your team understands the technical requirements of their role, real team performance is created through building strong relationships in the team, and by creating trust and value between team members. Taking time to clarify what is valued in the team is an essential aspect of creating a well- formed and bonded team, and below are some ways that you can do this. Exercise You can start this process through some very simple and fun ‘getting to know you’ activities. For example, at each team meeting you might ask each member to introduce themselves, using a different piece of personal information. You might use ideas such as The first record I bought The best holiday I ever went on What I do on the weekends What I’m passionate about in life Three words to describe me at my best, and three at my worst Draw a picture of yourself at work, and at home – tell us about the difference between the two What I expect to be doing in three years’ time. Exercise And what about team values and behaviours? Take a look at the exercise on Team purpose. If you went through the exercise to describe what you want to be famous for, or how you would describe your products or services to customers, then try the following activity: Now that we know what we want to be famous for, how will we have to behave in order to become famous for those things? Example 1 If you want to be famous for producing excellent work with no mistakes in it, you will have to behave in a way that includes paying a great deal of attention to checking that your products and services are 100 per cent accurate before they go out to the customer. This might mean that you will value a focus on detail, and unacceptable behaviour would include sending unfinished work to customers. Example 2 If you want to be famous for responding quickly to customers, you will have to behave in a way that includes paying a great deal of attention to responding at speed to customer requests. This might mean agreeing performance measures that could include, say, 24-hour turnaround times on 98 per cent of customer requests. Acceptable behaviour would include operating flexible working systems and hours to meet the demands of customers. It might include an understanding that you will make fast decisions, even when not everyone can agree. It might also include an expectation that people will work on a project until it’s finished to ensure it meets the time deadlines you have set. Unacceptable behaviour might include avoiding spending too much time caught up in the detail or missing a customer deadline because there was some less important issue to deal with. Exercise Getting to know you... This activity can take place during a team meeting. You should allocate around 15 minutes for each team member taking part. The outcomes of this exercise can include an agreement on team values, an agreement on team guiding principles, or a list of team protocols – the way we want to do business here. Step 1 Ask each member to take a sheet of flipchart paper and complete the following activity. Allow them about 20 minutes to do this first section. Divide your flipchart into three sections – top, middle and bottom. Split the top section in half and draw a picture in each box: on the left, draw a picture of you at home; on the right, draw a picture of you at work. Split the middle section in half and write in each box. On the left, write three words that describe you at your best. On the right, write three words that describe you at your worst. Split the bottom section in half. On the left, write down the things you love in life and the things that annoy you. On the right, write down what you dream about for your future and the people who have had the greatest influence on your life. Step 2 Once everyone has completed their flipchart, invite them to take it in turns to ‘show and tell’. While each person is explaining their flipcharts, the other team members should be encouraged to ask questions to help them get to know the person at a deeper level. Everyone should have a turn; as team leader you should think about going first, and disclosing as much as you feel comfortable to – this will help to set the tone and level for the session. Step 3 Ask the team if they see any common ground amongst the things that people have said, and the things that are important in their lives. If you can identify common ground, see if you can agree some behaviours or values that you can commit to as a team. . Membership, competencies and commitment This is most likely an area that you as team leader will want to think about, either on your own or perhaps in conjunction with other managers at your level who know your team. Teams can only be effective when they have The right people in them (people membership) People who understand their job and can carry it out to a good standard (competencies) People who understand what the team is trying to achieve and are committed to helping the team get there (commitment). It may be that your organisation has some form of staff appraisal or staff review system, and you should refer to the process within your own organisation in this area. We rarely find ourselves in a situation where we can select all of the members of our own team. All too often, managers find themselves inheriting either a whole team or some members of a pre-existing team. In this situation, it’s important for the manager to consider the people membership of his or her team. However, it’s also common for new managers to simply accept the way things are, without giving any thought to how the team could be improved. As part of your role, you should review the performance of individuals within the team, and then offer them constructive and helpful feedback on how you see them and what they can do to help improve the performance of your team. Activity With the help of your local HR manager, find out what internal systems and processes exist to help you review your team membership. Use your internal review systems as they should be used: to measure individual performance, identify development needs and offer feedback to your team members. Put regular one-to-ones in your diary with each team member, and spend time with them, talking through their performance, competence and level of commitment to the team. . Individual and team reward systems You do not lead people by hitting them over the head – that’s assault, not leadership. Dwight D Eisnehower In any working environment, reward systems are extremely important. Reward systems are one of the main drivers of human behaviour, simply because people very often ask themselves ‘What’s in it for me’ when they engage in a piece of work. Most people think of reward systems as being about money and financial incentives, and of course that’s a huge part of it. It’s critically important that your financial systems reward the right kind of behaviour. If your financial incentives are out of alignment with your team philosophy, then creating a high-performing team is almost impossible. A simple example You might be the manager of a sales team and the culture you want to adopt is one where they put the needs of the customer first. As part of this approach, you might have an expectation that they won’t ‘hard sell’ to customers. Instead, you expect them to find out what their customers need, provide information about the features and benefits of the products you sell, and allow customers to decide if the product is right for them or not. Your philosophy might be that if customers don’t buy today, they will come back and buy later because they were treated well and weren’t pushed to buy something they didn’t want. In order for this approach to work, your reward systems must be aligned behind your philosophy. For example, if your financial reward system only pays your sales staff a commission when they make a sale, they will very likely be driven towards a ‘hard sell’ approach in order to generate sales and maintain their standard of living. It will prove almost impossible to get your staff to change their behaviour towards a ‘customer-centric’ approach, while your reward system incentivises selling products. So, if your financial reward system is out of alignment with your philosophy or vision for the business, it’s much less likely that you will be successful. However, reward systems are not all about money. For many people, a nice comment from the boss or a letter from a senior manager congratulating them on the work they have done can be a huge motivator. You may not have a great deal of control over how pay and financial bonus systems operate in the company, but, as a team leader, you have a great deal of control over the kind of informal ways you reward your staff. Over the years, we have come across lots of different ways that managers can create a happy and fun working environment for their teams, helping them to feel a part of something important and tell their friends that they really enjoy being part of the team. Some ideas Congratulate staff by writing letters on headed letter paper to those who have done an especially good job – use this method in moderation so the letters have an impact. Most people are surprised to get a positive letter from the boss, especially if it is addressed to them at home and arrives on a weekend morning. Invite staff to bring in cakes or doughnuts on their birthday or other special occasions. Arrange for the team to have lunch together every now and again to maintain social contact. Evening social activities can be good too, but be aware that some people may prefer not to spend their social time with work colleagues. Set up a silly monthly award. We worked with a team who had a yellow plastic duck which was awarded each month to the person who told the best story about solving a problem on behalf of a customer. Set up weekly ‘team huddles’ – an informal get together over coffee on a Monday morning to talk over the weekend, and to highlight the important things to focus on in the coming week. Buy the team ice cream on a hot summer’s day; it’s fun and you’ll be role modelling the kind of behaviour that rewards the team’s efforts at a time when being at work can be tough. Best idea of all – ask the team how they would like to be recognised and rewarded, individually and as a team. It might be that an individual will feel rewarded when you nominate them for a training course or put them forward to work with a senior manager on a new project. As a team, they might choose to go to the pub together at the end of a month to celebrate hitting a particularly tough target. It’s always the best policy to ask the team what they want, rather than putting all the pressure on yourself to second-guess what you think they might like to do. . Team culture Culture is, at its simplest, the way we do things around here. Deal & Kennedy If you accept this quote , then ‘the way you do things’ suggests that you can choose to do things in a way that works for you – in other words, you have a choice about the culture you create in your team. This part of teamworking is simply about recognising the choices you have as a team leader: to a great degree, the culture and environment within which your team operate will be created by you and your style of leadership. Leaders and managers are sometimes said to ‘cast a long shadow’, meaning that the people who work for you as team leader will spend time working out what you like and don’t like, what works and doesn’t work for you, how to influence and advise you and so on. Many people conform to the boss’s ‘norms’ of behaviour, and they take their lead from the team leader in all aspects of their working lives. But culture is not a thing you can directly change. Culture is built and understood through being clear about all of the other aspects of high performance within the FIT model. If you have worked through the various parts of the model, and carried out many of the activities and exercises suggested, you will have gone a long way towards creating a culture that is involving, engaging and inclusive – the kind of culture that most people want to work in. A good question to ask yourself is this: does the culture in the team right now help us to deliver against our plans? If the answer is yes, then you should congratulate yourself, because you have the makings of a high performing ‘Functional Integrated Team’. If the answer is no, then take a look back through the FIT model and think about which area you need to work on in order to start to change the culture of the team. When the team is under-achieving It’s often the case that you can tell that your team could do more, but it’s not always obvious what’s wrong. The problem is often to do with people having different views or perspectives on the situation. People may have different ideas about their role or what the team is trying to achieve, and you can go a long way towards improving performance by clarifying any misunderstandings around those areas. Try bringing the team together to discuss and clarify what the team is aiming for, and the part everyone plays in delivering against that aim. This is a great way to start a different kind of conversation with the team – it gives you space to talk about what’s really on people’s minds, rather than about last week’s or last month’s performance figures. From experience, we believe that most teams need clarity on the following four key things in order to be effective. 1. Team purpose – why are we here? What’s our ambition for the future? This helps teams to build a culture of security and certainty around them. 2. Team outputs – what do we actually produce? If you work on a production line this can be easy to answer. But if you provide a call centre or helpdesk service, it can be more difficult. Considering outputs helps teams to focus on what they are producing. 3. Team performance measures – how are we measured? How do we know when we are successful? This helps teams to identify and celebrate success, creating a culture of recognition and achievement. 4. Team values, norms and behaviours – what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour? What are the ‘norms’ we expect of each other? This helps teams to create a culture of care, compassion and concern for others. Promotion awaits the employee who radiates cheerfulness, not the employee who spreads gloom and dissatisfaction. Doctors tell us that cheerfulness is an invaluable aid to health. It is also an invaluable aid to promotion. B C Forbes John Adair model When you are trying to lead and manage a new team, you will see a variety of behaviours being demonstrated by different individuals in the team. This mix of behaviours is a very natural occurrence, and they tend to fit into three main categories, as described by John Adair in his book Effective Teambuilding: Adair describes a team as having three key needs, described below. Task – the need to accomplish something: this is ‘what’ the team will do, and is usually seen in terms of things rather than people Group – the need to develop and maintain harmonious working relationships: this concerns ‘how’ people relate to each other. So, for example, unless people listen to each other and build on each other’s ideas, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to complete the task Individual – people join teams for a variety of reasons, but their reasons for joining will fulfil a personal need they have, whether it’s being excited by the task, interested in working with the other people or because it provides job security and a regular income. Each person will have their own individual needs, and when these individual needs can be met along with (and not at the expense of) the task and the group, then the team will tend to be more effective. Adair’s model can be drawn like this, showing the interdependence between the task, group and individual needs of any team. When all three areas are being paid due attention, the team will be more effective as a result When a team fails to perform, it is often because the team (and the team leader) are tending to focus all of their attention on completing the task at the expense of group and individual needs. So, for example, we may be focused on delivering to a deadline and, through lack of communication or lack of planning and so on, we could end up having to undo and repeat parts of the task. The end result may be that the team fails to deliver the task by the deadline. In simple terms, then, in the early stages of team development, it is of critical importance to pay attention to not only the ‘what’ that has to be achieved, but also to ‘how’ we are going to achieve it. Top tip In the early stages of team development, make sure that you think through and clearly communicate to your team ‘what’ the team has to achieve (task), as well as ‘how’ the team must behave in order to achieve it (group), and the role each member of the team needs to play in order to achieve the team goal (individual). Exercise Ask each member of your team to draw Adair’s three inter-connected balls – Task, Group, Individual – in proportion to the amount of time each person thinks the team spends paying attention to each area. For example, someone who thinks the team spends their time mainly on the task, and perhaps doesn’t pay enough attention to the needs of the group or the individual members of the team, may draw the balls like this: Other members of the team may produce very different diagrams. Give the team half an hour to discuss their differing diagrams. The aim of the exercise is to find out whether the team agree that you spend your time together as a team focused on the right things, or whether you need to introduce new items to your meeting agendas in order to more evenly balance their view of how you spend your time. Case study The following is a case study of a senior management team. This team led a function that was performing well, yet the managers felt it could perform to a higher standard. The team got together to debate some of the issues highlighted in this section on building a high-performing team and created the following output document. The aim of getting together was to examine the level of clarity they had around the way they behaved towards each other in the team, and the impact this had on their ability to make decisions and communicate consistently with their staff. The following documents were circulated to all members of the team and were reviewed at meetings over the following months to test and check whether progress was being made. Board of Management (Retail sector) Document 1: Overview Overview Following the 15th/16th December awaydays we have decided to radically change the way we manage the business in order to consolidate and accelerate the change next year. The changes outlined below will result in faster decision making and action, clearer accountability and increased focus. Changes 1. The Board of Management (BOM) will meet fortnightly for [three hours] alternating between driving business performance and strategic programme. There will be a number of standard reports for these meetings. The BOM will focus on policy, commissioning work and decisions. 2. Specific Director accountabilities will be dealt with through monthly one to ones with the MD. These sessions will focus on business objectives, supported by standard progress reports. These meetings will be 120 minutes duration. Quarterly formal performance reviews will take place, including a review of progress of development plans. 3. BOM Directors have formal monthly one to ones with each other to deal with cross-functional opportunities and issues. 4. The BOM will meet for two days every 90 days to cover: BOM effectiveness and efficiency Big picture review People development/succession planning 5. The Programme Office will be strengthened by moving all project managers under the Programme Office and setting up a ‘Design Authority’ to maintain a rolling Integrated Plan, stop projects, initiate projects and coordinate across Retail functions. The Programme Office/Commercial will report to the BOM meetings monthly. 6. A ‘Guiding Coalition’ will be set up to drive action around enhanced performance and the Values. 7. The ‘first line’ will be immersed in the plans and be updated regularly as to progress. 8. BOM sub-groups may be set up to drive specific large activities (for instance Plan B Products) at speed Document 2: Ground rules 1. Each meeting will have an agenda, reports based on fact, minutes and action points. 2. Nothing will be discussed that isn’t on the agenda. 3. Reports/documents and so on must be circulated three working days in advance or the item will be thrown off the agenda. 4. Each agenda item will be marked for Discussion/Decision/Action to help us identify what needs to happen. The decision(s) required by the Board of Management must be clearly stated. 5. Decisions made will be final, cabinet responsibility applies. 6. Keep out of the detail. Document 3: Fortnightly meetings agenda 1. Business Performance To include half-hour round robin Review of: Previous month’s sales ) performance ) KPI’s Operating performance Financial performance ) Risk review Year end latest forecast Opportunities and issues Compliance report Report outs on specifically commissioned actions/projects CBA sign offs 2. Strategic Programme To include half-hour round robin Strategic Review Previous actions Programme variances and issues Benefit delivery cost management CBA sign-off Strategic Preview Competitor analysis New ideas Issues to resolve Effectiveness Cross functional/cross business unit/BOM Post implementation reviews Document 4: Director monthly one-to-ones (two hours) agenda 1. Previous action point review 2. Functional review (report) Performance and variances against plan/targets Issues resolved Issues outstanding 3. Functional activities next two weeks (report) Achievements/results expected Issues expected What’s coming 60 days out? 4. Effectiveness What support required from MD Team effectiveness Cross-functional issues 5. Action point summary . Want to know more? Alchemy topics Hiring a Consultant You may decide that you need a little external help to support you on your journey to creating a high-performing team. Lots and lots of managers in all types of industry employ external consultants. Psychometric Testing Human behaviour is a big aspect of team performance, and it can help enormously to get to know each other in the team through the process of psychometric profiling. There are many different tools on the market that can help you to understand each other’s behaviours and how you might ‘revert to type’ in certain circumstances. This topic is an overview of the options available. Meetings Facilitation Transactional Analysis Books The Games People Play Dr Eric Berne MD, published by Ballantine Books, 1988 A great book, identifying aspects of transactional analysis that have great relevance to the role of a team leader. Effective Teambuilding John Adair, published by Pan Books, 1987, 224 pages Originally published in 1986, this remains a useful book, explaining how to consider a range of different dynamics that go on in group environments. Facilitation Skills for Team Leaders Donald Hackett and Charles L Martin, published by Kogan Page, 1994, 80 pages A brief and user-friendly ‘action guide’ on how to utilise facilitation skills during team meetings to help involve and engage other team members The Corporate Culture Survival Guide Edgar H Schein, published by Warren Bennis Books One of Amercia’s great psychologists, Schein wrote a series of fascinating books on the psychology of the workplace and career development. This book gives pragmatic advice on how culture is created and how it can be changed. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R Covey, published by Simon & Schuster, 1999, 384 pages One of the world’s biggest selling books on personal change, this can be a very powerful tool for young managers wishing to know more about themselves and how they can be successful. Fish! – A remarkable way to boost morale and improve results Stephen C Lundin PhD, Harry Paul and John Christensen, published by Coronet Books, 2002, 112 pages This bestselling book provides some examples on how you can develop team values that create energy and vitality in any workplace. It’s accompanied by a CD including handouts with some versions. Author You can also contact the authors directly: Gwyn Williams and Bruce Milroy .
Pages to are hidden for
"Teambuilding"Please download to view full document