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    BuildingEffectiveTeams

    By

    SonjaChamberlinandMeenaKumar,SAITPolytechnic,Calgary,Alberta

    GroupversusTeam

    Thewords 'team' and 'group' are generally used interchangeably, yet there is a distinct differencebetween the two.A group isanumberof individualsworking togetherwhilea 'team' isagroupofindividualsworkingtowardacommongoal.Ateamcannormallyoutperformagroup.

    The following paper outlines some characteristics and benefits of high performance teams andstrategiesforbuildingthem.

    SuccessfulandEffectiveTeams

    Mostteamsarentteamsatallbutmerelycollectionsofindividualrelationshipswiththeboss.Eachindividualvyingwiththeothersforpower,prestigeandposition.DouglasMcGregor

    DonClark(2011)suggeststhataneffectiveteamcanmaximizetheorganization'shumanresources.Ateamcanbeeffectiveifthereistrustandmutualaccountabilitybetweenthemembers.Teammembershelp each other and each member will lead other members at various points throughout therelationship. Successesand failuresareequally feltbyallmembers,not justan individual.Thisgivesmembersmore courage to take risks and therefore, realizebigger gains.Most importantly, a teamsoutput issuperior toagroupof individualsdue to thesynergisticeffectofa team (Majorbenefitsofteams,para1).

    Inorder for a team tobe successful, all the teammembers shouldbe knowledgeable regarding thestructure,mandate and the strategic direction of the organization. They should be familiarwith thepoliciesandoperationalprocesses.Rulesofengagementandexpectationsaremutuallyagreeduponbyallmembersintheteam.Theyallshareacommongoal,andtogethertheysetconcretemilestonesforselfassessmentandperformance.Smallwinsarecelebratedalongthewaytomilestones.

    AsstatedbyMarkMiller(2001),successfulteamsbeginwithafocusonresults.Havingtalentedpeopleinateambuildsastrongfoundation;however,theskillsetwithintheteammembersandthesenseofcommunity/teamspiritmustbebuiltsimultaneouslyinordertogetoptimumresults(p.79).ThismodelisdepictedinFigure1below.

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    SuccessfulTeams

    Figure1.AdaptedfromTheSecretofTeams,MarkMiller(2001),p.79

    Ifgivenanopportunity,effectiveteamsshouldbebuiltstrategically.Themembersshouldnotonlybecompetent,butalsohaveastrongcharacterandauniqueskillsetthatcomplimentothers'intheteam.Thereshouldbechemistrybetweenteammemberswitheachmemberbeingacustom'fit'intheteam(Miller,2001,p.28).EffectiveTeamBuildingthroughPrincipledLeadership

    Beforeyouarealeader,successisallaboutgrowingyourself.Whenyoubecomealeader,successisallaboutgrowingothers."JackWelch

    Allteamsrequireprincipledleadership.Strongleadersprovidementorshipwhilesettinghighstandardsofexcellence.Theyareinfluentialinsecuringadequateresourcesbothinternalandexternal(LarsenandLaFasto,1989).Clearandsustainabletargetsaresetincollaborationwiththeteam.Specificdirectiontoachieve these targets is mapped out together and mutual constructive feedback for continuousimprovement is provided. Purpose of the project and the value added by the teams work iscommunicatedeffectively inordertogetbuyin.Positivereinforcementbooststheteamsconfidencewhilerecognitionandawardsandquickwinsarecelebratedtoincreasetheenthusiasmoftheteam.EffectiveTeamBuildingthroughStrengthBasedLeadershipInordertoaccomplishastrategicplanwithdiversegoals,theteamneedstobewellroundedwitheachmemberbringinguniqueskills,strengthsandtalents.Highperformanceteamsalignprojectscapitalizingonmembersstrengthsratherthanfocusingonimprovingtheirweaknesses(ConchieandRath,2008,p.2).Allindividualshaveadistinctpersonalityandareasofstrengthwheretheydemonstrateleadership.Itisbeneficialandproductive to focusonpeoplesstrengthsrather than tryto improvetheirweaknesses.Someteamscompleteapsychometricassessmentandsharetheresultsfromtheseassessmentswithallmembersoftheteam.Thisgivesmembersanewperspectivewhendealingwithothermemberswithin

    CommunityRESULTS

    Skills

    Talent

    Fit=Character,Competency&Chemistry

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    the team. Investing in peoples strengths maximizes their engagement, effectiveness and output(ConchieandRath,2008,p.15).OutlinedinTables1and2belowarethefourpersonalityandbehaviorstylesbasedontheDiSCProfileand complimenting them are the four leadership domains as defined by Conchie and Rath (2008).Effectiveandsuccessfulteamshavemembersineachofthefourdomains(p.23).PersonalityandBehaviorStyles

    Profile CharacteristicsDominance Direct,decisive,drivenproblemsolvers,achieversInfluence Influencer,image,enthusiasmcommunicatorsSteadiness Steady,stable,supportiveprocessorientedConscientiousness Conscientious,correct,carefuldetailoriented,focusonqualityandaccuracy

    Table1.Adaptedfromdiscprofile.comLeadershipDomains

    Domains CharacteristicsStrategicThinking AbsorbsandanalyzesinformationtohelptheteammakebetterdecisionsRelationshipBuilding TheessentialgluethatholdsateamtogetherExecuting Makesthingshappen;implementssolutionsInfluencing Sellsideastoothers;getstheteamheard

    Table2.AdaptedfromStrengthBasedLeadership,ConchieandRath,2008.DelegationinanEffectiveTeam

    Ineffective teams, the leadership shifts from time to timedependingon theexpertise required.Thisallowsforgrowthanddevelopmentoftheteammembersandcontributestoamoreproductiveteam.Italsohelpswithtransitionplanning.

    Delegationoftasksisawaytoshiftleadershipwithintheteamanddevelopteamcapability.However,delegationofresponsibilityneedstobedoneeffectively inordertoachieveoptimumresults.Thefirststepistoidentifyanddefinethetaskstobedelegated.Next,distributethetaskstoindividualsbasedontheir strengths and passions. Ensure adequate resources are allocated. Then brief the team onexpectationsanddesiredoutcomes.Giveteammembersbothresponsibilityandtheauthoritytomakedecisions and take action. Monitor progress at regular intervals and ensure each employee isperforming.Finally,provide support toall themembersbygivingguidanceand feedback regularly inordertosetthemupforsuccess(Dokeetal,2011,p.1267).

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    EffectiveDelegation

    Figure2.AdaptedfromBuildingaTeam,DeeDeeDokeetal(2011),p.127TypesofTeamMembersandEngagementGenerallyateamiscomprisedofthreekindsofmembersintermsoflevelsofengagement:

    1. Engaged:Thesemembersarehighperformersandareabreathoffreshair.Theyarethegotopeopleintheteam.Thesemembersareknowledgeableabouttheorganizationsstrategicgoalsand direction. They are influential and communicate effectivelywith othermembers in theteam.Researchsuggeststhatonly29%oftheteammembersaregenerallyengaged(Crabtree,2013).

    2. Notengaged:Thesemembersaretheminimaliststomiddleperformers.Theydojustenoughtogetbyandflyundertheradar.Itissuggestedthatinanyteam,generally54%ofthemembersarenotengaged(Crabtree,2013).Thewaytoengagethemistodirectthemtowardstheirareaofpassion,give them cleardirection,give them responsibilitywithauthority andmake themaccountablefortheiractions.

    3. ActivelyDisengaged:Thethirdandthemostconcerningaretheactivelydisengagedmembers.

    TheyarealsoknownasCAVE(ConsistentlyAgainstVirtuallyEverything)dwellers.Theyactivelyworkonbeingdisengaged. Theyare lowperformers,generally irrationalandmiserable.Thesemembersneedtobecounseledtoleaveandfindotheroptionsawayfromtheteam.Seventeenper centof teammembers generally fall in this category (Crabtree,2013). It takes fourhighperformerswhoareengagedtocounteractoneactivelydisengagedindividual.

    EffectiveTeamsinaPositiveWorkEnvironment

    Support Distribute

    Delegating efficiently

    Monitor Brief

    Identify

    Teamscanbeeffectiveandsuccessfulwithengagedanddisengagedmembersbutcannotachievethatwithactivelydisengagedmemberspresent.Activelydisengaged

    memberseitherneedtotransformorleave!

    Equity,fairnessandtrustformthefoundationofaneffectiveteam

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    A climate of mutual trust, equity and fairness is essential in a highperforming team. The workenvironmentcancontributetobuildinganeffectiveteam;idealcharacteristicsinclude:

    Theworkingenvironmentissafe,comfortable,relaxedandpositive; Allmembersarerespectfulofothersandcommunicateopenlyandhonestly; Teammembersareengaged,vestedandinterestedandcarrieshisorherownweight; Creativityandrisktakingareencouraged.

    Meetings are a reality in thework environment and are essential for communicating, planning andrelationship building. They can also be a huge timewaster so it is important to conductmeetingseffectively.Sometipsforeffectivemeetingsinclude:

    Allmeetingshaveanagenda,achair,minutetaker,processobserverandatimekeeper.Agendaitemsareallottedtimebyteammembersbasedonimportanceinordertokeepfocusedandontrack;

    Rotate the chair to help develop people. This gives everyone in the team an opportunity todirectthemeetingandhaveanappreciationfortherulesofengagementwhensomeoneelseischairing;

    Memberscomepreparedandarriveontimetorespecteachotherstime; Meetingsalwaysstartandendonapositivenote.Anexamplewouldbetostartmeetingswith

    somegoodnews from teammembers. Itcanbepersonalorprofessional;something that thememberfeelscomfortablesharing.Endthemeetingbyappreciatingpeoplethathavehelpedinanywayormadeadifference.

    Theagendashouldbecirculatedtoallteammemberspriortothemeetinggivingthemtimetoreflectandcomeprepared tocontribute.Forparticularlychallenging issuesorproblems,an issue statementcanbepreparedbyateammemberpriortothemeetinggivingmembersasummaryoftheissue,whyitis important, relevant background, potential options with the corresponding pros and cons, and astatementaboutwhatdecisionneeds tobemadeorwhat input isrequiredso thatpeoplewhoneedmoretimetothinkaboutitarenotcaughtoffguard(Scott,2007,p.10).Conciseandpreciseminutesare taken.Thesecanbe referred to in the future toavoid repeating thediscussionorreinventingthewheel.Actionitemsareclearandfocused(whowhatwhen)thusprovidingcleardirectiontomembersfacilitatingacceptanceandcompletion.OrdinarypeoplecancometogethertoachieveextraordinaryresultsBrianJ.Dunn,CEO,BestBuy

    EffectiveTeamBuildingandConflictMany people do not like to dealwith conflict yet there are a few that thrive on conflict.However,managersmustmake sure that all opinions are heard and discussed and difficult conversations areconductedifneeded.Itisimportantforallmembersintheteamtomakeaninformeddecision.Everymembershouldhaveanopportunity to voice their opinion in order to feel valued. Concerns, difference of opinions anddisagreements are resolved through discussion (not suppressed or overridden by the teamwithoutbeingaddressed). Ifconflictscannotbe resolved, themembers together findahappymedium to live

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    with,withoutlettingitblocktheirprogress.Sometimes,despitediscussion,thegroupisunabletocometoaresolutionandanexecutivedecisionismadebythemanager.Theotherstrategyextremelybeneficialindealingwithconflicttoenableprogressionisthefistoffive.Manypeoplebelievethatitisimportantand,infact,imperativetobeinlovewithaninitiativeinorderfor it to succeed. However, it is important to realize that everyonewill not be in lovewith everyinitiative.Aslongasonecanlivewiththeinitiativeinordertomoveforwardandreevaluatelater,itisfine to proceed. If an initiative is being discussed and the teammembers have different views andcannotreachanagreement,thenthefistoffivestrategycanbeusedwherebyashowofhandsbytheteammembersoccurswithnumbersbetweenzero (fist)and five (all five fingersextended)basedontheircomfort levelwiththe initiativebeingproposed.Ifmembersare incompleteagreementwiththeproposal,theyvoteforitwithafiveandiftheyaretotallyagainstit,theyvotewithafist.Othersvotesomewhereinbetweenbasedontheircomfortlevelwiththeinitiative.Ifmembersareunsurebutarewillingtoatleasttryitandassesstheconsequenceslater,theyvotewithathree.Aminimumofthreebytheentireteam isrequiredtoprogresswiththe initiative.Anything lessthana threerequirestheissuetobebroughtbacktothetableforfurtherdiscussiontotryandalleviatepeoplesconcerns,revisetheplanandvoteagain.Thisstrategyishelpfulwhendealingwithinitiativeswheretheteamisattwoendsofthespectrumandamiddlegroundwhichwouldworkforallisneeded.Itisextremelyimportantthatallmembersbuyinandarevestedinorderfortheinitiativetosucceed.FiveDysfunctionsofaTeamPatrickLencioni(2002)proposesthatteamsaresusceptibletofivedysfunctions.ThesedysfunctionsarenotdistinctissuesbutinterrelatedasdepictedinthemodelillustratedinFigure3below.Theevidencethatoneormoreof thesedysfunctionsmightexist ina team is listed to the right in themodel. Forexample, ifteammembersarenotwillingtobeopenandvulnerablewitheachother,this indicatesalackof trustwithin the team (p.1879).Fortunately,Lencioni (2005)alsosuggestssomestrategies toovercomethedysfunctionsandthesearelistedonthefarrightinthemodelbelow.

    TheFiveDysfunctionsofTeamandSolutionstoOvercomeThem

    Figure 3. Adapted from The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni (2002), p. 188

    Solutions:

    FocusoncollectiveoutcomesConfrontdifficultissuesForceclarity&closureMineforconflict(demanddebate)Bevulnerable(buildcommunity)

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    Summary

    Aneffectiveteamisonewhereeveryteammemberfeelsvaluedandcontributes.

    Alignresponsibilitywithauthority.

    Acknowledgeandappreciatepeopleandtheirefforts.

    Focusonteammembersstrengthsratherthandwellingontheirweaknesses.

    Giveteammembersautonomyandrespect.

    Regardlessofwhatpositionyouare infromamiddle levelmanagertoCEOofacompany,youalwayswantyourteamtostandbyyou!

    ReferencesClark,D.(2011).Theartandscienceof leadership:Growingateam.RetrievedNovember5,2011from

    http:www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadtem.htmConchie,B.&Rath,T.(2008).Strengthsbasedleadership:Greatleaders,teams,andwhypeoplefollow.

    NewYork,NY:GallupPress.Crabtree,S.,(2013).GettingPersonalintheWorkplace.GallupBusinessJournal.RetrievedFebruary27,2013fromhttp://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/11956/gettingpersonalworkplace.asp.Doke,D.,Bourne,M.,Bourne,P.,Hunsaker,P.L.,&Hunsaker,J.S.(2011).Buildingateam:Interviewing

    people,motivatingpeople,managingpeople.NewYork,NY:DKPublishing.Larson,C.E.,LaFasto,F.M. J. (1989).Teamwork:Whatmustgo right,whatcangowrong.Newberry

    Park,CA:Sage.Lencioni,P.(2002).Thefivedysfunctionsofateam:Aleadershipfable.SanFrancisco,CA:JosseyBass.Lencioni,P.(2005).Overcomingthefivedysfunctionsofateam:Afieldguideforleaders,managers,and

    facilitators.SanFrancisco,CA:JosseyBass.Miller,M. (2011). The secret of teams:What great teams know and do. San Francisco, CA: Barrett

    KoehlerPublishers,Inc.Scott,S.(2007).Fierceconversationsworkbook.Fierce,Inc.WhatisDiSC?(2013).RetrievedFebruary24,2013fromhttp://www.discprofile.com/whatisdisc.htm.

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