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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘team strength

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong and Productive

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smallgroup9

Leaders cannot assume that teams will automatically police and monitor themselves. Rather, leaders need to regularly audit a team’s performance to ensure that the mechanisms that build overall strength are firmly in place.

The fact that leaders are dealing with human nature makes team behaviors unpredictable and impacted by a number of variables that may or may not be within their control.

A single individual has the ability to undermine and ultimately destroy team strength. Consequently, leaders must continually audit the team’s overall performance. Such an audit requires both time and attention to detail when observing the behaviors, attitudes and levels of participation reflected within the team.

Leaders should audit the following areas on an ongoing basis in order to maintain overall team strength.

Participation

Leaders must ensure both balanced and equal levels of participation exist throughout the team. They must ensure that all individual members participate in the team process and are given equal opportunities to offer their insights and feedback. In this regard, leaders must make sure that no individual team member dominates the environment or is allowed to cow any other participants into silence.

Interaction

Leaders must actively observe the levels of interaction between individual team members. An active team will have open and energetic levels of communication, where members are openly and freely working with one another. Leaders must be aware of whether specific team members seem to be left out of the process, and identify those who may be reluctant to participate, have been intimidated into silence or had their behaviors minimized by more demanding and dominant members of the team.

Level of Development

Leaders must actively monitor the team’s overall level of development and maturity. A healthy team will grow, mature and become seasoned in their actions and decisions. While such development might occur in incremental steps that are difficult to monitor, leaders should take the time to evaluate the progress and growth of the team over prolonged periods of time.

Mutual Levels of Respect

Leaders should be observant for the mutual levels of respect demonstrated by team members. As teams develop, mature, and become more seasoned, the overall respect demonstrated by individual team members should be increasing and readily evident. Leaders must audit for both minimizing and destructive behaviors that reflect a lack of respect and undermine the entire team’s performance.

Depth and Scope

Leaders should also be auditing their team for the depth and scope of their brainstorming and decision making. Initially, teams will be dealing superficially with their projects or topics. As they mature and grow within the process, the breadth and scope of their brainstorming, analysis and decision making should increase and reflect the maturity of the team. If leaders conclude that these levels have not increased, they must take the appropriate action to challenge their team to grow.

Synergy

A sure sign that a team has developed and evolved is the synergy reflected in its actions and decisions. As team members learn to work with one another toward mutual goals and objectives, the overall synergy of the group should expand to the point where the whole becomes greater that the sum of the parts. Leaders who have determined that sufficient cooperation has not been developed should review the five aforementioned areas, as each will impact the overall level of synergy.

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

Related:

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

There are Only Three Reasons to Form a Team

Seven Characteristics of Strong Teams

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 © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

March 3, 2014 at 10:00 am

What You Need to Build Strong Teams

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planning

A team is defined as a small number of individuals with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, approach and set of performance goals to which all are held mutually accountable. A more detailed examination of this definition will further elucidate strengths of the team approach.

The fact that individual member efforts and overall group performance are inextricably linked makes the team the most productive performance unit an organization has at its disposal. The team is collectively responsible for specific results and will achieve them provided the performance ethic of the company is strong enough.

Within teams, each specific member’s commitment to the common purpose in a set of related performance goals is of paramount importance. Each individual must believe the team’s overall objective has a direct bearing on the success of the company and must collectively keep each other honest in assessing the results relative to that purpose.
There are a number of elements that give teams their internal strength. These include:

Size

Research has shown that most teams range from 2 to 25 individuals; however, the average number is less than 10 members. Smaller teams tend to be more effective, as larger numbers of people have trouble interacting constructively as a group. Large teams are also less likely to reach timely agreements on the actionable steps required to move the team forward. Often large groups defined as teams tend to break themselves down into smaller sub-teams that are responsible for more secondary aspects of the project or problem.

Complementary Skills

In order to be effective, teams must be comprised of individuals who have the right mix of skills in three areas.

  • Technical or Functional Expertise – Team members should possess the appropriate technical or functional know-how required for the team to accomplish its goals or objectives. Specific expertise is defined by the breadth and scope of the problem and the capabilities required to resolve it.
  • Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills – Teams must be able to identify any problems and opportunities that arise. They must be able to evaluate available options and make necessary trade-offs and decisions before proceeding. Therefore, it is important for the majority of if not all team members to possess advanced problem solving and decision making skills that will allow them to effectively move the team forward.
  • Interpersonal Skills – Teams depend on effective communication and constructive conflict resolution. These abilities depend on the interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence of individual members, including respect, active listening and empathy as well as the ability to handle criticism, remain objective, take risks and build trust. As leaders appoint members to their team, common sense should guide them in selecting individuals with the necessary complement of skills to achieve the team’s purpose. While many teams are assembled based on more subjective personal criteria or according to a formal position description, these interpersonal areas should be considered first and foremost when selecting team members.

Common Purpose

Teams develop direction, momentum and commitment by working to shape a meaningful purpose. Effective teams invest extensive time and effort in exploring, defining and agreeing to a purpose that belongs to them both collectively and individually. Once achieved, this gives teams an identity that reaches beyond the sum total of the individuals involved. This identity keeps conflict—something both necessary and threatening to teams—constructive by providing a meaningful standard against which to resolve clashes between individual and team interests.

Common Approach

As teams require a common approach, or how they will work together to accomplish their purpose, individual members must agree on who will do specific jobs, how schedules will be set and adhered to, what skills need developing, how continuing membership is to be earned and how the group will make and modify decisions, including when and how to change it’s approach to getting the job done. The agreement on operational specifics and how they integrate individual skills and advance the team’s performance lies at the heart of shaping a common team approach.

Mutual Accountability

A team is not viable until it can hold itself accountable. Teams enjoying a common purpose and approach inevitably hold themselves individually and collectively more responsible for the team’s performance. Teams further develop specific performance goals to provide clear yardsticks for accountability.
Accountability provides a measure of the team’s quality of purpose and approach. Groups lacking mutual accountability for performance have not shaped a common purpose and approach that can sustain them as a team.

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

Related:

Self-Directing Teams Place Responsibility Where Work is Performed

Eleven Factors That Affect the Team Environment

What Is Involved in the ‘Teaming Process’

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong & Productive

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 Strong Teams: Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series

Developing a Team Approach: 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

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

September 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm

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

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong & Productive

with 5 comments

Leaders cannot assume that teams will automatically police and monitor themselves. Rather, leaders need to regularly audit a team’s performance to ensure that the mechanisms that build overall strength are firmly in place.

The fact that leaders are dealing with human nature makes team behaviors unpredictable and impacted by a number of variables that may or may not be within their control.

A single individual has the ability to undermine and ultimately destroy team strength. Consequently, leaders must continually audit the team’s overall performance. Such an audit requires both time and attention to detail when observing the behaviors, attitudes and levels of participation reflected within the team.

Related: Seven Characteristics of Strong Teams

Leaders should audit the following areas on an ongoing basis in order to maintain overall team strength.

Participation

Leaders must ensure both balanced and equal levels of participation exist throughout the team. They must ensure that all individual members participate in the team process and are given equal opportunities to offer their insights and feedback. In this regard, leaders must make sure that no individual team member dominates the environment or is allowed to cow any other participants into silence.

Interaction

Leaders must actively observe the levels of interaction between individual team members. An active team will have open and energetic levels of communication, where members are openly and freely working with one another. Leaders must be aware of whether specific team members seem to be left out of the process, and identify those who may be reluctant to participate, have been intimidated into silence or had their behaviors minimized by more demanding and dominant members of the team.

Related: There are Only Three Reasons to Form a Team

Level of Development

Leaders must actively monitor the team’s overall level of development and maturity. A healthy team will grow, mature and become seasoned in their actions and decisions. While such development might occur in incremental steps that are difficult to monitor, leaders should take the time to evaluate the progress and growth of the team over prolonged periods of time.

Mutual Levels of Respect

Leaders should be observant for the mutual levels of respect demonstrated by team members. As teams develop, mature, and become more seasoned, the overall respect demonstrated by individual team members should be increasing and readily evident. Leaders must audit for both minimizing and destructive behaviors that reflect a lack of respect and undermine the entire team’s performance.

Depth and Scope

Leaders should also be auditing their team for the depth and scope of their brainstorming and decision making. Initially, teams will be dealing superficially with their projects or topics. As they mature and grow within the process, the breadth and scope of their brainstorming, analysis and decision making should increase and reflect the maturity of the team. If leaders conclude that these levels have not increased, they must take the appropriate action to challenge their team to grow.

Synergy

A sure sign that a team has developed and evolved is the synergy reflected in its actions and decisions. As team members learn to work with one another toward mutual goals and objectives, the overall synergy of the group should expand to the point where the whole becomes greater that the sum of the parts. Leaders who have determined that sufficient cooperation has not been developed should review the five aforementioned areas, as each will impact the overall level of synergy.

Related: Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

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

If you would like to learn more about building 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.

________________________________________________________________________

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 Foreward Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

June 5, 2012 at 11:57 am

The Five Characteristics of Strong Teams

with one comment

A team is defined as a small number of individuals with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, approach and set of performance goals to which all are held mutually accountable. A more detailed examination of this definition will further elucidate strengths of the team approach.

The fact that individual member efforts and overall group performance are inextricably linked makes the team the most productive performance unit an organization has at its disposal. The team is collectively responsible for specific results and will achieve them provided the performance ethic of the company is strong enough.

Within teams, each specific member’s commitment to the common purpose in a set of related performance goals is of paramount importance. Each individual must believe the team’s overall objective has a direct bearing on the success of the company and must collectively keep each other honest in assessing the results relative to that purpose.
There are a number of elements that give teams their internal strength. These include:

Size
Research has shown that most teams range from 2 to 25 individuals; however, the average number is less than 10 members. Smaller teams tend to be more effective, as larger numbers of people have trouble interacting constructively as a group. Large teams are also less likely to reach timely agreements on the actionable steps required to move the team forward. Often large groups defined as teams tend to break themselves down into smaller sub-teams that are responsible for more secondary aspects of the project or problem.

Complementary Skills
In order to be effective, teams must be comprised of individuals who have the right mix of skills in three areas.

  • Technical or Functional Expertise – Team members should possess the appropriate technical or functional know-how required for the team to accomplish its goals or objectives. Specific expertise is defined by the breadth and scope of the problem and the capabilities required to resolve it.
  • Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills – Teams must be able to identify any problems and opportunities that arise. They must be able to evaluate available options and make necessary trade-offs and decisions before proceeding. Therefore, it is important for the majority of if not all team members to possess advanced problem solving and decision making skills that will allow them to effectively move the team forward.
  • Interpersonal Skills – Teams depend on effective communication and constructive conflict resolution. These abilities depend on the interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence of individual members, including respect, active listening and empathy as well as the ability to handle criticism, remain objective, take risks and build trust. As leaders appoint members to their team, common sense should guide them in selecting individuals with the necessary complement of skills to achieve the team’s purpose. While many teams are assembled based on more subjective personal criteria or according to a formal position description, these interpersonal areas should be considered first and foremost when selecting team members.

Common Purpose
Teams develop direction, momentum and commitment by working to shape a meaningful purpose. Effective teams invest extensive time and effort in exploring, defining and agreeing to a purpose that belongs to them both collectively and individually. Once achieved, this gives teams an identity that reaches beyond the sum total of the individuals involved. This identity keeps conflict—something both necessary and threatening to teams—constructive by providing a meaningful standard against which to resolve clashes between individual and team interests.

Common Approach
As teams require a common approach, or how they will work together to accomplish their purpose, individual members must agree on who will do specific jobs, how schedules will be set and adhered to, what skills need developing, how continuing membership is to be earned and how the group will make and modify decisions, including when and how to change it’s approach to getting the job done. The agreement on operational specifics and how they integrate individual skills and advance the team’s performance lies at the heart of shaping a common team approach.

Mutual Accountability
A team is not viable until it can hold itself accountable. Teams enjoying a common purpose and approach inevitably hold themselves individually and collectively more responsible for the team’s performance. Teams further develop specific performance goals to provide clear yardsticks for accountability.
Accountability provides a measure of the team’s quality of purpose and approach. Groups lacking mutual accountability for performance have not shaped a common purpose and approach that can sustain them as a team.

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

If you would like to learn more about team building techniques, refer to Building Strong Teams: Pinpoint Management 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.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

July 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

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