Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘team culture

When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

with 5 comments

smallteam

When team results lag, leaders must closely examine the team culture. The culture is established when the team is initiated and is defined by its charter, mission, norms, roles, responsibilities and performance goals. An effective team will define: specific performance goals, a work-product and a set of challenges to overcome and milestones to meet.

The team culture will define how and what the team will produce. Poor performance can be attributed to many areas including team:

  • Leadership
  • Norms
  • Roles
  • Responsibilities

However, most often a lack of team performance is the result of poorly conceived performance goals or a lack of clear understanding of what the team is to accomplish. Both are closely interrelated and will create a faulty team structure, which will lead to either a lack of results or ill-defined results that have little or no value to the organization.

A well-defined and performing team should be producing an output that has identifiable value to and for the organization. In other words, the output of the team is greater than the sum of the individual contributions of the team members. To achieve this, teams must be focused on the attainment of specific performance goals.

Effective team results and reliable outcomes are the result of the establishment of a firm team foundation from the outset of the team’s creation. When teams develop their charter and mission they are also setting the performance goals that establish the tone and aspirations of the team. In this fashion teams develop their direction, momentum and commitment by working to shape a meaningful purpose. Part of that purpose is defined by the results and outcomes the team is expected to produce when its work is completed.

If team performance lags or is ineffective, one must review the initiation points of the team, how it defined itself, and the work it planned to produce. The areas that need to be explored include:

Specific Performance Goals

The establishment of specific performance goals is an integral part of the team process. This assists the team to shape a common purpose that is meaningful to all of the team members. Performance goals should be compelling and challenge teams to make a difference. In addition, they should be linked to the charter and mission of the team and achieve its purpose in a meaningful way.

Upon its creation the team should immediately establish a few challenging yet achievable goals early on to build confidence and feelings of success. These goals should be both measurable and capable of assessment.

The Team Work-Product

The team work-product is different from both the organizational mission and individual job objectives. It requires equivalent contributions from all of the members of the team. This process should not be minimized or it will result in future problems for the team.

Assigned tasks and assignments that make up the contributions of the team should be completed by the team members and not delegated or reviewed by them. While staff support may be required, team members should perform the majority of the assignment, so that they acquire firsthand knowledge of the output that they produce. This develops respect, trust and accountability between team members.

The use of delegated work limits both the commitment of team members and their appreciation for its content and contribution. It also minimizes the insights and the innovative potential of the team. If team output lags, this may be a critical point of investigation.

Performance Goals

Performance goals should be clearly stated and understood by team members. When this happens discussions focus on how to pursue the goals or if they should be changed. When goals are ambiguous or non-existent, discussions are less productive. Teams will spend time revisiting issues and problems without making meaningful progress.

Attainment of Performance Goals

The attainment of specific performance goals assist teams to maintain their focus on getting results. If a team doesn’t attain its desired results and outcomes it can often be attributable to the team’s failure to establish specific performance goals. Further, the establishment of specific performance goals allows teams to create a series of small team wins that builds the commitment of team members.

Performance Objectives

Teams should establish specific performance objectives. In so doing they will allow for clear communication between team members and create constructive conflict to discuss issues and develop solutions.

Summary

As the reader can clearly see, many of the performance failures experienced by teams are the result of inadequate planning and preparation at the time the team is initiated. Proper performance goals, objectives and work-related outcomes must be clearly defined and understood if they are to be realistically attained. Any attempt to short-circuit this process will only create future problems. This will result in the team having to revisit their foundations in order to successfully accomplish their mission.

Excerpt: Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series.(Majorium Business Press , Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Related:

How Personal Agendas Can Destroy a Team

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

Five Pitfalls Teams Need to Avoid

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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Empowerment Is Not Synonymous With Surrender

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smallgroup12

The maintenance of team strength requires ongoing leadership diligence and interaction. If leaders fail to pay attention to what is happening within the team culture and environment, it is easy to stumble into several pitfalls. Many major problems can be avoided by structured attentiveness.

It is easy for leaders to begin surrendering their personal authority as they actively work to empower team members. Many assume that individual teams are automatically able to meet the responsibilities assigned to them – thus making their jobs and workloads much lighter. When this belief takes hold, it is easy for leaders to assume that their responsibilities are being effectively handled. Because of it, they generally tend to miss the undercurrents and interactions that work to undermine team strength and productivity.

Because leaders understand that empowerment is not synonymous with surrender, they play an active, ongoing role in guiding and directing the actions of their individual teams. The roles and responsibilities of individual leaders are not subjugated to their teams. Rather, teams become a mechanism for leaders to be more effective within their organization and more productive in what they need to achieve within shorter periods of time.

There are a number of common pitfalls leaders can stumble into as they develop and build their teams.

Lack of Solid Team Structure

Leaders must ensure that their teams have a solid structure in place. This includes all team members having a clear and concise understanding of their roles and responsibilities. It also includes development of and adherence to the norms, rules and boundaries established during the team’s formation. Once a particular team has been established, a primary leadership responsibility is to make sure that the team adheres to its overall structure.

Not Being Observant

Within the team structure, leaders need to take a hands-off stance in regard to team matters and discussions in order to actively and impartially observe what is occurring. This enables them to be vigilant concerning internal team conflict, dominant personalities and other issues that can impact an individual team’s productivity, strength and performance. Leaders cannot assume that effective team management occurs automatically within the team growth and development process. Specific attention needs to be paid to all details when any negative occurrences take place.

Allowing or Minimizing Disruptive Team Behaviors

Leaders must understand that the team culture has a specific structure that guides and directs its progress and functioning. Specific roles must be assigned to maintain this structure for an adherence to the rules, boundaries and regulations that a particular team collectively develops.

One common pitfall many leaders stumble into involves allowing individual disruptive behaviors to continue to the point where they actively hamper the team’s progress. The acceptance of disruptive behaviors by leaders and other members can undermine overall team strength, as they have a tendency to intimidate less assertive participants into silence. Leaders must be vigilant for specific behaviors that inhibit the free-flow of ideas, thoughts and feedback within the team culture.

A Failure to Intervene

One of the team leader’s major responsibilities is to intervene whenever required to eliminate disruptive behaviors or any other barriers that negatively impact the entire team process. When they tend to overlook specific performance-inhibiting behaviors, they are ultimately undermining team strength. It is up to team leaders to take increasingly stern measures when intervening within the team environment. These measures often start with intervention in the group setting itself; if this proves ineffective, personal intervention with the offending member(s) must be undertaken.

Displaying Bias or Favoritism

It is easy for leaders familiar with the capabilities of individual team members to display favoritism toward one member over another. However, any open display of bias will automatically cause other team members to be less open in expressing their concerns, feedback and input. Biases and favoritism have the tendency to create a situation where specific team members become dominant, which, because of their power and influence, can result in the assertion of personal agendas and overall conflict.

Not Allowing Teams to Adequately Develop and Police Themselves

It is easy for leaders, especially within a new team environment, to assume total control over the team process. They feel that it is faster and more productive to “tell and instruct” the team in what to do than allow it to develop and chart its own course.

A team learns best when it grows through its mistakes and through problems it must solve on its own. It needs to be given the room to brainstorm and create solutions, while having the freedom to police itself when internal problems and conflicts surface due to disruptive behaviors or dominant personalities.

Team strength is developed when members are allowed to work collectively through specific challenging situations and arrive at effective solutions as a result of them.

Excerpt: Building Strong Teams: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong & Productive

Five Reasons Why Team Communications Can Deteriorate

Eight Strategies for Handling Disruptive Situations

Five Pitfalls Teams Need to Avoid

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

A Team’s Purpose, Function & Use: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Boosting Team Communication:  Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series

Building Team Roles & Direction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Developing a Team Approach: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

with 5 comments

Teams, team results, team culture, performance goals, milestones, team work-product, focus, goals, problem solving, objectives, productivity

When team results lag, leaders must closely examine the team culture. The culture is established when the team is initiated and is defined by its charter, mission, norms, roles, responsibilities and performance goals. An effective team will define: specific performance goals, a work-product and a set of challenges to overcome and milestones to meet.

The team culture will define how and what the team will produce. Poor performance can be attributed to many areas including team:

  • Leadership
  • Norms
  • Roles
  • Responsibilities

However, most often a lack of team performance is the result of poorly conceived performance goals or a lack of clear understanding of what the team is to accomplish. Both are closely interrelated and will create a faulty team structure, which will lead to either a lack of results or ill-defined results that have little or no value to the organization.

A well-defined and performing team should be producing an output that has identifiable value to and for the organization. In other words, the output of the team is greater than the sum of the individual contributions of the team members. To achieve this, teams must be focused on the attainment of specific performance goals.

Effective team results and reliable outcomes are the result of the establishment of a firm team foundation from the outset of the team’s creation. When teams develop their charter and mission they are also setting the performance goals that establish the tone and aspirations of the team. In this fashion teams develop their direction, momentum and commitment by working to shape a meaningful purpose. Part of that purpose is defined by the results and outcomes the team is expected to produce when its work is completed.

If team performance lags or is ineffective, one must review the initiation points of the team, how it defined itself, and the work it planned to produce. The areas that need to be explored include:

Specific Performance Goals

The establishment of specific performance goals is an integral part of the team process. This assists the team to shape a common purpose that is meaningful to all of the team members. Performance goals should be compelling and challenge teams to make a difference. In addition, they should be linked to the charter and mission of the team and achieve its purpose in a meaningful way.

Upon its creation the team should immediately establish a few challenging yet achievable goals early on to build confidence and feelings of success. These goals should be both measurable and capable of assessment.

The Team Work-Product

The team work-product is different from both the organizational mission and individual job objectives. It requires equivalent contributions from all of the members of the team. This process should not be minimized or it will result in future problems for the team.

Assigned tasks and assignments that make up the contributions of the team should be completed by the team members and not delegated or reviewed by them. While staff support may be required, team members should perform the majority of the assignment, so that they acquire firsthand knowledge of the output that they produce. This develops respect, trust and accountability between team members.

The use of delegated work limits both the commitment of team members and their appreciation for its content and contribution. It also minimizes the insights and the innovative potential of the team. If team output lags, this may be a critical point of investigation.

Performance Goals

Performance goals should be clearly stated and understood by team members. When this happens discussions focus on how to pursue the goals or if they should be changed. When goals are ambiguous or non-existent, discussions are less productive. Teams will spend time revisiting issues and problems without making meaningful progress.

Attainment of Performance Goals

The attainment of specific performance goals assist teams to maintain their focus on getting results. If a team doesn’t attain its desired results and outcomes it can often be attributable to the team’s failure to establish specific performance goals. Further, the establishment of specific performance goals allows teams to create a series of small team wins that builds the commitment of team members.

Performance Objectives

Teams should establish specific performance objectives. In so doing they will allow for clear communication between team members and create constructive conflict to discuss issues and develop solutions.

Summary

As the reader can clearly see, many of the performance failures experienced by teams are the result of inadequate planning and preparation at the time the team is initiated. Proper performance goals, objectives and work-related outcomes must be clearly defined and understood if they are to be realistically attained. Any attempt to short-circuit this process will only create future problems. This will result in the team having to revisit their foundations in order to successfully accomplish their mission.

Excerpt: Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series.(Majorium Business Press) $ 19.95 USD

If you would like to learn more about improving team performance, refer to Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

________________________________________________________________________
Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It
and What You Can Learn From It
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Catalog| 800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

December 22, 2011 at 9:59 am

Seven Characteristics of Strong Teams

with 7 comments

The essence of leadership is found in team building and development where leaders apply specific skills to the task of bringing a diverse group of individuals together into an effective working team.

Leadership is ultimately an act of faith in other people. Adhering to their personal vision, leaders apply specific skills and abilities to energizing, motivating and guiding the action and direction of their teams. Additionally, leaders use their ability to delegate authority and empower their teams to implement and execute the specific strategies developed within the team environment. However, it is a mistake for leaders to assume that teams can totally operate on their own without guidance, direction and intervention from their leaders.

Within the team environment, leaders need to exert specific skills that allow them to share their vision and develop cooperation that ultimately creates a synergy that energizes the team and makes it thrive. Without active leadership, many working groups and teams will ultimately become lost and ineffective. It is important for leaders not only to cheer and motivate their teams, but also to guide and direct them.

Leaders must understand that they cannot simply label a group of individuals as a team or working group and then expect them to automatically blend themselves into an effective working unit. Rather, leaders must be actively involved and exert direct leadership upon their teams in order for them to develop and build the strength that energizes their actions and direction. The elements that build team strength and energy include:

Shared Vision

One of the hallmarks of effective leadership is a personal vision defining where it is leaders think the organization should be heading. One of the first tasks leaders should focus on when developing effective work teams is that of communicating their personal vision to their team. However, communication alone is not sufficient; leaders must also sell their teams on the vision so that it becomes a shared driving force for the entire team.

Mutual Goals

When teams and working groups are ultimately established, individual team members bring a diverse group of goals and objectives to the table. Leaders must blend those goals and objectives so that all team members share those that best fit the interests of the team. As this occurs, individual team members will set aside their personal goals and agendas for those of the team.

Shared Purpose

People are naturally driven to work toward something larger than themselves. As teams develop and blend, they create a shared purpose that motivates and energizes individual team members toward the accomplishment of collective goals and objectives. These individual members understand that accomplishment of a shared purpose is greater than what they can achieve on their own.

Mutual Respect

One of the hallmarks of effective teams is the mutual respect that individual team members have for one another regardless of their divergent viewpoints and perspectives. When destructive personal behaviors that sap team strength are eliminated and people understand the value of the feedback and contributions made by all team members, mutual respect is developed and cultivated. A critical aspect of the team culture, this respect is nurtured by team rules, roles and boundaries. Any undermining of mutual respect within the team is corrosive and destructive to the future actions of the team.

Embedded Best Practices

As organizations change and evolve and teams are developed and dismantled, specific best practices that have evolved and been proven over time should become crystallized and embedded within the organization. These best practices eliminate the need for each and every team to “reinvent the wheel” and allow them to get a jump start on their programs and projects. However, over time some “best practices” can become outmoded and outdated, used only because of their duration and implementation by other teams. Leaders should observe and review their best practices to assure that they are both effective and productive and do not hinder the performance of their teams.

Time to Develop and Grow

Team development must be fostered by allowing teams the time to go through various stages of development, and grow into effective working units. As each team is unique, development time will vary according to the experience and expertise of its members. Experienced and seasoned individuals who have worked together previously can appreciably shorten the time required to build team strength and develop into a working unit.

Setting Their Own Direction

Teams build strength, energize and motivate themselves when they are given the space to set their own direction. While leaders play an active role in guiding and directing their team, they should allow it the latitude to create its own rules, roles, boundaries, goals and ultimate direction.

Within some organizational settings, effective teams can become self-managing with minimal intervention by leaders; in other environments, active leadership intervention, direction and guidance is required. The degree of guidance and direction will depend on the maturity and responsibilities of individual team members. The overall goal of leaders should be to incrementally surrender more of their authority to their teams. As teams grow and demonstrate their effectiveness, leaders will develop increased confidence in their ability to assume specific roles, authority and responsibility.

Excerpt: Building Strong Teams: Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about techniques to build strong teams, refer to Building Strong Teams: Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

October 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

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