I’ve been exploring, in this series of posts, what makes a team effective or not. I’ve noticed in some organizations where I coach, some teams work really well together and some don’t. What are the key elements that make a difference in teams?
Team members who commit to decisions and performance standards aren’t afraid to hold one another accountable. In fact, they invite suggestions that help each other stay on task. Peer-to-peer accountability conversations are essential to maintaining focus and monitoring progress.
Team members should agree on set phrases to remind each other of what matters most. In some organizations, they use a “mantra” or slogan to keep the change initiative or goals in focus. They help each other out by noticing distractions and steering efforts toward accomplishing their overarching goals.
Groups should be encouraged to ask key questions on a regular basis:
- Will (this issue) or (task) help us reach our goals?
- I notice ____ hasn’t been finished. What do we need to get it done?
- What resources are missing here?
- How may I be helpful?
Effective team members are quick to spot problems and are willing to speak up without assigning blame. They cooperatively seek solutions engaging their individual strengths to make things happen.
Highly functional teams focus on group efforts and avoid seeking personal gains, fulfilling career aspirations and/or boosting individual egos. They use performance metrics to assess their achievements — be it a simple whiteboard or a sophisticated online tracking tool.
Success depends on monitoring progress and posting results for all members to see. Results should be updated regularly so any necessary adjustments can be made.
Teams should learn to provide positive feedback and recognition for progress — key motivators that renew energy and drive.
Assess your team by asking each member to answer three questions confidentially:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how well are we working together as a team?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how well do we need to be working together as a team?
- What are the needs of our teams to work well as a team?
Calculate for each area of functioning in the TEAM acronym and discuss the results. According to research involving several hundred teams in multinational corporations, the average team member believes his/her team operates at a 5.8 level of effectiveness, but recognizes the need to be at an 8.7.
Discuss and explore performance gaps. Ask team members for ways to improve trust, engagement, accountability and metrics. After making a list, choose one behavioral change that everyone can agree to prioritize.
Set up a team score card to track and recognize progress for each element of effectiveness in the TEAM. Make team-building a regular part of your meetings.
I’d love to hear your stories about what works and what didn’t in the teams you’ve been a part of. Email me or leave a comment.