Team Building

Team BuildingWas it Henry David Thoreau that said,

Most teams live lives of desperate mediocrity?”

(Or was that Joseph Juran?)

Anyway, I’ll bet you have experienced that mediocrity before.  (Maybe even recently?)

Life is too short

Life is too short for purposeless meetings, uncommitted peers, pointless communications, and team power-struggles.  Here are the most common problems I’ve found in 20 years of team building.  Which ones do you recognize?

  • political power based agendas
  • commitment and engagement problems
  • interpersonal struggles
  • unspoken agreements not to rock the boat (be a team player)
  • failures to communicate effectively

Team effectiveness is relative.  Team quality is not easy.  Team dynamics are complex.  And most leaders do not understand the important distinctions and processes that facilitate team excellence in practice.

But just as most teams suck, most of us have at one time or another have experienced, or even “played” on a really great team.  It doesn’t take any more effort to facilitate really great team practices.  In fact, if you know how, it streamlines work and makes it flow better.

Why stretch for a great team when good enough will do?

  • engagement is a lot more fun, and provides smoother more efficient operations
  • people are more motivated and enjoy being more fully engaged
  • there are less people problems – people want to go along, don’t get sick as often, and don’t bail out
  • your market demands efficiency and constant creative change that can only be handled by a really good team
  • it is important to your career (to be recognized as effective leader)

Think about the best team you ever experienced, you know that real effectiveness is possible.  But most teams settle for a level of mediocrity that is disappointing.

The reason you bring a team together is to coordinate a quantity, quality, and timeliness of work that you couldn’t accomplish on your own.  Factors that contribute to team success can be considered at many different perspectives:  Environment Factors, Behaviors, Workflow Capabilities and Procedures, Policies, Team values, Team purpose.   For it to work well you must coordinate key process factors at all of these levels.  The following are the ones I address when coaching Team Building.

Environmental Factors  (surrounding the team)

  • Inter-team workflow and communications are possible (low siloing)
  • Team Member Churn is low – so that the team can really learn to work together
  • Capricious repurposing and unexpected goal/requirements changes are low so that team can depend on knowing what to expect and practice polishing their role duties

Behaviors

  • Ambiguity is low – Understanding is high, so team members know what is expected of them and what they can expect of others
  • Communication quality is high
  • Engagement of team members in their work is high – challenging but not overwhelming, measurable, meaningful duties

Process Capabilities

  • Processes are practiced, greased, and flowing, with major exception processes defined and scheduled
  • Roles are clear and specific and goals for each role are specific
  • Workflow is defined, understood, and shared so that team members can practice polishing their role duties.

Team Value and Policies

  • Trust is high between team members and between team and its customers and suppliers
  • Flexibility is appropriate for the tasks at hand and team member fit their roles appropriately
  • Personal differences are understood, appreciated, and utilized
  • Team has establish target goals and key result measurements, designed workflow processes, and schedules opportunities to tinker with improved processes under controlled and measurable conditions (stochastic tinkering)

Team Purpose

  • Overarching Purpose is clear, specific, and inspiring – everyone can see it and knows what it means to the organization.  But more importantly it is congruently manifest in the behaviors and output results of the team

Before I take a consultancy to help with team building or to do a team building workshop, I perform an assessment in these areas.  If you are interested in building a high performing team and learning the skills required to sponsor your team so that you don’t have to constantly herd a bunch of wild cats, then give me a ring and lets talk.  There is no obligation to talk.  And I can help!

Reach me at 512-507-5464