Individuals don’t build great companies, TEAMS DO.
As organizations learn to deal with increasingly rapid change, teams are becoming more and more important. Leaders are finding themselves, members of all kinds of teams, including virtual teams, autonomous teams, cross-functional teams, and action-learning teams.
Many of today’s leaders face a dilemma: as the need to build effective teams is increasing, the time available to build these teams is often decreasing. And most importantly, the traditional team building takes to take and resources away from the office. And in many instances, the team building is geared to be neither effective nor relevant to the work actually being done. The most common challenge faced by today’s leaders is the necessity of building teams in an environment of rapid change with limited resources.
It is incredibly efficient, it is quick and it works. Research involving thousands of participants has shown how focused feedback and follow-up can increase leadership effectiveness – as judged by direct reports and co-workers (Goldsmith and Morgan 2004). A parallel approach to team building has been shown to help leaders build teamwork without wasting time.
While the approach described sounds simple, it will not be easy. It will require that team members have the courage to regularly ask for – and learn from – regular input from team members. Any research on behavioral change will show that feedback and reinforcement for new behavior need to occur much more frequently than a yearly or biyearly review. A final reason that the process works is because it encourages participants to focus on self-improvement. Many team-building processes degenerate because team members are primarily focused on solving someone else’s problems. This process works because it encourages team members to primarily focus on solving their own problems!
The team approach offers a simple process for evaluating and improving team performance. First, team members are given a quick assessment that asks them to answer two questions:
⦁ How well are we doing in terms of working together as a team?
⦁ How well do we need to be doing in terms of working together as a team?
The purpose of these questions is to evaluate member perception in regards to the team as a whole. We want to learn how each team member views the success of the team and their thoughts on how it might improve. After the initial survey,
- The team is asked to come up with two common behaviors that need changing in order to bridge the gap between where they are to where they want to be.
- Each team member must give two suggestions.
- The suggestions are then collected, evaluated and prioritized, and narrowed down to arrive at one or two behaviors that everyone agrees to work on as a team.
- In addition to changing group behaviors, team members are asked to find two areas where each of them can improve individually.
- Over the next few months, team members work together with a Stakeholder Centered Coach to change the team behaviors and personal behaviors that were identified for development.
- A mini-survey will be administered periodically to evaluate team progress as well as the progress of each team member on their individual goals.
Let us close with a challenge. Try it! The “downside” is very low. The process takes little time and the first mini-survey will quickly show whether progress is being made. The “upside” can be very high. As effective teamwork becomes more and more important, the brief amount of time that you invest in this process may produce a great return for your team and an even greater return for your organization.