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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘team

How Personal Agendas Can Destroy a Team

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Effective teams worry about obtaining positive results. This is why they typically succeed in the projects they are assigned, and in implementing the positive solutions they generate.

Teams are unlike work groups. They are an assembly of people who are committed to balanced participation, equal contribution and regular deliberation. The ideas and abilities of individual team members need to be used for the overall good of the project or its purpose. Such a collaborative dynamic does not occur automatically. It takes a great deal of energy and purposeful activity and is easily destroyed by the lack of focus, agendas and motivation of participating team members.

Successful teams consciously focus on how to generate better results. To get them, a team needs to be able to organize its talent, assigned roles, tasks and processes so members remain interested and absorbed in what the team is charted to do and accomplish.

When a team does not worry about generating positive results, it will never function as effectively as it can. One reason is because members will resort to performing roles and taking stances that tend to suit and advance their own purposes and desires, but act against the best interests of the team.

These actions are quite destructive. They can easily undermine team success in terms of efficiently and effectively addressing and accomplishing the task it was assigned. These destructive forces must be guarded against if a team is to be a highly productive and functional decision making entity.

When a team fails to be results oriented, it tends to allow five major destructive forces to take root. This is the result of looking the other way and allowing members who have a tendency for continually “turning off,” “labeling,” “playing devil’s advocate,” “controlling” and “yes-butting” to take over team processes and group dynamic standards and structure.

To obtain better team results and sustain a high focus on generating them, with the least amount of disruptive interference, the team alone must become responsible for:

  • Minimizing actions that result in negative attitudes toward addressing and advancing the team project
  • Maximizing actions that make team participants enjoy the process of collaborative problem solving and experimentation
  • Modeling and reinforcing effective performance techniques that have a problem-centered focus
  • Getting team members excited about the project’s associated opportunities and challenges
  • Making the team as a whole eager to function effectively and cooperatively while moving it continually forward
  • Reducing frustrations to prevent members from becoming unmotivated and giving up
  • Overcoming and preventing these major destructive forces is absolutely necessary.

Turning off Others and Project Excitement

There are seven specific actions that work to turn others off as well as decrease levels of personal and team enthusiasm toward an assigned project:

  • Personal interruptions when someone is trying to explain something
  • Taking discussions off track
  • Ignoring what a speaker is saying
  • Ignoring and/or downplaying others and their responses
  • Using nonverbal negative communication tactics
  • Being singularly focused and totally closed-minded
  • Using derisive humor

Any of these actions indicate that a team member simply doesn’t want to take responsibility to help the team perform and function well, or take an active interest in what it is trying to accomplish and tend to generate a lot of conflict within a team.

This is because individuals who attempt to shut down the sharing of explanations, insights and opinions will impede team progress and problem solving efforts, which makes it difficult and frustrating for others who want to move forward.

It is easy to predict that the majority of team members will likely tend to isolate offending individuals rather than openly and conscientiously deal with their inappropriate actions in an attempt to alter or change their behavior. As a result the team loses a valuable member simply because it failed to adhere to and reinforce the standards of communication it had set for itself.

Labeling

When a team fails to maintain a results-oriented focus, it often allows labeling to go unchecked. When someone inside a team places a label on another member’s behavior or attempts to describe another’s attitudes or motives, this individual becomes a detrimental force to reckon with.

Major breakdowns in team process and progress are often due to intentional or unintentional labeling practices. Labeling occurs when team members: talk forcibly to someone, intentionally confront another person in an intimidating manner, suggest that another person has a particular attitude or unworthy motive, or react sharply by challenging what another person is saying or implying.

Whatever tactic is used, predictably speaking, a team can be certain that the person being attacked will immediately resort to a defensive position, and conflict and resentment will follow. This tends to disrupt and halt any discussion or conversation. In teams this is extremely detrimental and unproductive.

Not only do labels affect the whole team in a social way, but also seriously affect the individuals being labeled from a psychological standpoint. Members who are labeled negatively by their team counterparts or peers tend to: be more depressed, have a lower self-esteem, portray defensive characteristics, and dominate others as a personal protective measure.

Self-concept may play a large role in the everyday happenings of labeling behaviors. When a team member assigns a label to another team member, it may actually reflect how this particular person perceives and views him or herself.

Research further suggests that a person’s flexible self-concept influences the process by which people form impressions of others. In other words, self-concept impacts the labels one tends to apply to others.

No matter what, labeling practices are fairly predictable. Silence and non-participation will become more apparent within the team, and resentment toward others will cloud and hinder open communication.

Playing Devil’s Advocate

Playing the role of devil’s advocate is typically exhibited through the use of the word “no,” which oftentimes is referred to as “nay-saying.” Predictably, this type of occurrence generates not only conflict and chaos, but also frustration and stress within the team setting.

A devil’s advocate makes certain that whatever is ineffective or bad in regard to another’s idea, opinion or suggestion is openly and emphatically expressed. They emphasize so powerfully what is wrong with something, that what is right tends to get buried or ignored before it is even explored.

It is important to counter this type of team-subverting behavior, which can be done individually by interjecting something like:

  • “I heard what you had to say but I would also like to hear another’s point of view on this.”
  • “I am really not interested so much in why (name) takes this position as I am in (name’s) reasoning behind it, and this is what I wish to know more about.”
  • “I totally agree that there may be reasons why this won’t work, but I am intrigued by the possibility that it may work. Let’s address why and how it could possibly work
  • effectively.”

Controlling

Without maintaining a focus on how to get the best results possible, it becomes easy to predict that a team will allow one or more of its members to control its: progress, issues, structure, methods of problem solving, and overall situations. This becomes a major reason why a team ends up functioning far less effectively and obtaining lower-level results.

It is important to understand what control looks like so the team can proactively watch for and effectively handle these types of situations. Individuals who always attempt to take control tend to have personalities that are fear or pride driven, even though they may have no idea that these two factors continually influence them.

The team needs to take a step back and ask, “Why does this person feel the need to dictate or to control this issue or situation?” Most controlling individuals tend to fear that if they do not control the situation, they will lose control of their surroundings and influence.

Often control is related to one’s feelings of self-importance or pride as an individual feels the need to be in control to feel special or be the center of attention. Unfortunately, “pride” in a team setting often manifests itself as an unwillingness to back down or to surrender power or authority. Ultimately it is to accept that someone else might be right and that the other might be wrong.

The team and its members must realize that control is the opposite of trust. If a member feels the need to constantly be in control of what the team focuses on, how something is done or what it does, this individual is demonstrating that he or she does not trust the team to make appropriate or effective decisions on its own.

Predictably, this lack of trust is detrimental, especially within a team setting, since trust is a vital part of the team relationship process, which enables each person within it to feel important and trustworthy.

Many controlling personalities don’t ever think about what they are doing. Most don’t realize that they are controlling individuals until they are told. Control can be broken. It is not a permanent condition that cannot be changed. Most people who are controlling in their actions and behaviors want to change, they just don’t know how.

Several action steps members can take to help overcome control issues within the team environment include:

  • The first step requires the team to acknowledge that an individual is projecting a dominating or controlling personality.
  • The second step requires openly addressing it. For those with pride-based control, this is a difficult exercise, but a very important one that is crucial to change.
  • The third step requires the offending individual to accept needed, constructive criticism, which can be part of the set standards for the team.
  • This step will demonstrate a true desire on the person’s part to be a better team player. It also will begin to reestablish elements of personal as well as team trust.
  • The fourth step requires changing the team’s reaction to control-based situations. These circumstances will occasionally happen, but as a team it is important how its members react, address and respond to them.
  • The fifth step requires creating a more solid, positive team atmosphere, which includes keeping positive words flowing, never talking in a derogatory way about others, either in front of or away from them.

“Yes-Buts”

One of the most common occurrences within a team discussion is demonstrating the “yes-but” syndrome. This is typically done in response to someone’s ideas, suggestions or way to approach something.

Predicting the effects created by this is fairly reliable: unclear, ambiguous messages are sent and interpreted. Responses appear to say one thing but actually convey another leading to team communication breakdowns and miscommunication.

This is one of the hardest practices to detect within a team setting because it is often used so subtly and skillfully. Yes-buts:

  • Imply, “I heard what you said but you are wrong.”
  • Tend to be a personal discounting of what another person says or believes.
  • Tell the speaker, “As a listener I think you may have a good or useful idea or suggestion, but it isn’t worth much in this situation.”

The “yes-but” technique is often used to soften the blow of disagreement. This approach tends to occur most when members on the team attempt to personally sell an idea to others or want to take control of a situation.

Either way, “yes-butting” should be put to rest quickly. Allowing team members to apply this technique will predictably hinder progress while forcing likely effective solutions out of the problem solving picture.

Related:

Five Critical Factors of Team Success

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

Excerpt: Developing & Planning for Team Results (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

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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If You Want to Lead… Innovate!

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Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft  Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“You keep innovating if you want to keep leading… Exceptional leaders cultivate the Merlin-like habit of acting in the present moment as ambassadors of a radically different future, in order to imbue their organizations with a breakthrough vision of what it is possible to achieve.” [1] Within the context of this chapter, the breadth and scope of innovations introduced in multiple areas demonstrates the great leaders’ ability to lead within their respective industries.

Bill Gates (Microsoft) asserted, “Research, I think, is the lifeblood of innovation in the economy. But big companies always have a problem taking their research and making sure it’s focused on the problems that count. And even if you make a breakthrough, do you really get that research into the products that you ship? In our industry, companies like Xerox or AT&T are famous not just for doing fairly good research, but in many cases not ever being able to bring it to the marketplace. So when we started Microsoft Research, we said, let’s make sure we’re the best case ever not only of great researchers, but getting that into products. And so events like this — where it’s almost like a festival — you come and see all the neat research advances. That’s one of the ways we make sure these groups are working like a team.” [2]

Innovation is a time-intensive process, which normally doesn’t fit into neat time blocks. Amazon is a noteworthy example. Jeff Bezos explains, “As far as time-frame is concerned, innovations at Amazon usually take 5-7 years before they make any meaningful impact on the company’s economic situation. This is a big risk and is offset in a number of ways. One is to minimize the costs of experiments. Amazon has a web lab just for that purpose, which undertakes these experiments on a massive scale, collects real usage data on what works best, and is constantly trying to push the costs of these experiments down. Again, taking a long-term view, it helps when building innovation on things that won’t change in the next 5-10 years. For Amazon, these are basic customer preferences, such as: choice, low prices, and fast.

There are three more core-attitudes, which I think have a big impact on the way innovation takes shape at Amazon. One is, to always ask the question ‘why not?’”… The biggest mistakes at Amazon come from not doing something, rather than taking the risk. And asking ‘why not?’ instead of ‘why should we do it?’ opens up a whole other universe of possibilities. Similarly, there are lot of difficult decisions that Amazon has had to make over the years, such as allowing reviews on their site. The vital question there was ’what is better for the customer?’ Last, but not least… ‘Be Stubborn on the vision, and flexible on the details.’ ” [3]

Andy Grove (Intel) made the following observations. “ ‘It is not something where you have a crystal ball to start with and you guess right,’ he emphasizes. ‘You constantly have to guide your efforts and add more ingredients – effort, money, people, undertakings, and alliances. It is partly anticipation, and partly turning that anticipation into a reality. When you have a three-to-four-year development cycle and factories that take three to four years to build and ramp up – and you add a year or two where you are making decisions about what the information technology world will want five years into the future, part of it is learned guesswork. You do your own guesswork – and then you work like hell to make your guesswork become reality… And you obviously need a whole industry to support some of this, so you turn to evangelism. And to make sure your evangelism carries weight, you invest in some [small start-up] companies to make sure you are taken seriously.” [4]

As the examples cited within this chapter clearly illustrate, innovation takes many forms. They include concept, product, process, practice and application. Each is succinctly fueled by the practice of “ruthless efficiency,” designed to improve the customer’s experience by increasing quality, efficiency and driving down costs. Most innovations were the direct result and consequence of a series of continuous improvements, sprinkled with several “Eureka!” moments. Leopold Mannes, co-developer of Kodak’s Kodachrome photographic film stated, “Invention is primarily the art of getting out of trouble.” [5] Fueled by necessity, the great leaders pioneered innovation to solve problems to leverage available opportunities, and to achieve a competitive advantage.

  1. Meyers William, Conscience in a Cup of Coffee (U.S. News, October 31, 2005)
  2.  A One-on-One Interview with Bill Gates (CNN.com, March 1, 2002)
  3.  van Wyitck Vincent, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos on Strategy & Innovation (not Kindle-related!) (Tech IT Easy, November 20, 2007)
  4.  Sheridan John H., 1997 Technology Leader of the Year Andy Grove: Building an Information Age Legacy (Industry Week, April 19-21, 2010)
  5. Brayer Elizabeth, George Eastman. A Biography (University of Rochester Press, Rochester, NY, 2006) p. 224

Related:

Building Employee Support Requires Interactive Leadership

Eight Ways Others Evaluate Trust in Leaders

Five Strategies to Build Trust

The Concept of Change Means Leaders Must Communicate

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Leadership Roles & Responsibilities: Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Negative Employee Behaviors: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

The Impact of Change on Individuals: 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

Producing Better Decision-Making That Results in More Positive Outcomes

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One of the primary reasons organizations and companies go through the effort of developing a qualified team environment is to produce better decision-making that results in more positive outcomes. This creates a more effective, efficient and productive work environment that helps ensure the success of the organization.

Good decision-making is facilitated by open and effective team communication that allows teams to consider all perspectives and points of view. The synergy of the team allows it to make decisions and outcomes that individuals alone would be unable to reach. Properly done and implemented, effective team decision-making makes the job immensely easier for everyone involved.

When leaders build an effective team structure and facilitate its activities, they will find that teams are more effective and productive at making decisions than leaders alone would be. This not only makes the leader’s job easier, but also enables their organizational unit to be more effective in implementing new decisions.

The structure and synergy created in the team environment greatly enhances decision-making in all organizational settings. This section discusses what contributes to this enhanced decision making ability.

Increased Informational Flow

The structure and makeup of teams typically allows them to develop more information and data than the average individual is capable of producing. Additionally, because of the number and combination of individuals, teams can analyze information and data more effectively and efficiently than a single individual. These enhanced analytical skills allow teams to base their decisions more on facts and data in order to support their conclusions and recommendations.

Balanced Perspectives

The structure of the team allows for the input of more feedback and perspectives on any specific issue or topic because all team members are mandated to participate and supply their feedback. The team has the ability to produce a balanced perspective on any issue it reviews.

All Points of View Considered

The brainstorming and consensus-building techniques employed by most teams allow them to consider all points of view and perspectives supplied by team members. Throughout the process, concepts are built upon in order to consolidate ideas and perspectives and use the synergy of the group to create more powerful solutions. This allows the team to weigh alternative solutions before reaching a final decision.

Solutions Prioritized

The consensus building and synergy of the team in the decision making mode allows it to consider, weigh and prioritize all possible solutions to any issue or problem. This process is based on criteria established by the team ahead of time, freeing it from any personal bias or agenda. It allows teams to effectively filter all potential solutions in order to arrive at the best possible decision.

Positive Outcomes

The team process allows people to thoroughly consider all points of view and create balanced solutions that ultimately produce positive outcomes for the organization.

It should be noted that initial decision-making in new team environments can be awkward and time-consuming. As teams become more experienced and mature in making decisions, the entire process will become more streamlined, automatic and efficient. Leaders should avoid the temptation of minimizing the team’s ability to grow, especially during the early stages of team development. Doing so will hinder its potential for growth, effectiveness and productivity.

Excerpt: Boosting Team Communication: Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

How Personal Agendas Can Destroy a Team

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

Overcoming and Preventing Groupthink

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

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

Building Strong Teams: Pinpoint Management Skill 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

Empowerment Is Not Synonymous With Surrender

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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 to Analyze Your Team’s Expectations and Outcomes

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In general, the purpose behind analyzing whether team expectations are being met is to promote, enhance or improve something within the team itself to help overcome or prevent specific problems, weaknesses or hindrances.

When analyzing expectations, it becomes important to focus on three types of project-related outcomes: team knowledge, team processes, and the deliverable. Team knowledge includes understanding team terminology, concepts, and relationships among team actions and results.

Team processes are the steps utilized to create a desired deliverable or end product and include: professional attitudes, self-awareness to know when project steps are executed, and self-control during transitions between project-related steps. The deliverable or end product is what is created as a result of team project activity—such as a plan, method, system, document, or process to meet specified needs.

When it comes to predicting, defining and interpreting a team’s results, outcomes and expectations, there are specific skills that should be applied, which tend to cut across all team-related roles. There are four basic questions individual members need to ask themselves before determining if team expectations are being met:

  1. Am I learning what I need to know?
  2. Am I applying what I have learned?
  3. Am I a good role model and expert?
  4. Am I able to teach others to know and apply important team functions, best practices and group dynamic applications?

There are a multitude of reasons why teams may wish to evaluate their performance, including:

  1. Identify accomplishments.
  2. Evaluate if leadership is shared and effective.
  3. Identify team strengths.
  4. Identify points of team weakness.
  5. Analyze team strengths and weaknesses
  6. Identify group dissatisfaction.
  7. Identify low morale.
  8. Identify confusion of team purpose.
  9. Identify drop in participation.
  10. Avoid team stagnation and demise.

Predicting, defining and interpreting a team’s results, outcomes and expectations and their combined effectiveness can be accomplished through a number of assessment and evaluation resources, including:

  • A complete index or listing of definitions that detail outcomes, which multiple audiences can refer to such as organizational employees, upper management, and/or sponsors
  • The drafting of performance criteria for examining team-related outcomes
  • The application of performance review tools for providing timely feedback and for planning developmental actions intended to improve team performance
  • Providing oral presentations and reports to organizational employees, upper management, and/or sponsors

There are very specific success factors that a team must analyze to determine if it is able to obtain, or is obtaining the results it wants:

The Team’s Ability to Organize

Analyze the team to see if it is:

  • Establishing a system to communicate standards of excellence
  • Delegating tasks and responsibilities
  • Aligning people and resources to present information where all audiences can understand key points and issues

The Team’s Ability to Prioritize

Make sure the team is:

  • Researching information
  • Focusing on issues that are most critical to the success of the project
  • Taking into account the feasibility and the relationship to the goal, blocking time to evaluate
  • Categorizing issues and reprioritizing if necessary
  • Identifying the steps to be taken
  • Identifying the necessary issues to be addressed and placing them into an appropriate order

The Team’s Ability to Analyze

Ensure the team is diagnosing and clarifying issues/data by:

  • Gathering the most relevant information
  • Recognizing broader implications of issues/data
  • Drawing logical inferences
  • Examining interrelationships between all alternatives
  • Making decisions that have the greatest positive impact on team outcomes and its deliverable

The Team’s Ability to Manage Time

Check if the team is using time effectively for tasks that are to be completed, including:

  • Establishing priorities
  • Preparing project timelines
  • Monitoring and managing resources
  • Allocating time for the team to work
  • Reviewing updates
  • Thinking about its next action steps

The Team’s Ability to Question

Is the team effectively using questions, which consists of:

  • Formulating open-ended questions that increase awareness of situations
  • Requesting clear, concise information that achieves desired results
  • Providing opportunities to analyze data that results in finding root causes
  • Creating a nonjudgmental, open and creative environment

The Team’s Ability to Facilitate

Make sure the team works collaboratively to help define its overall goals and specific objectives by:

  • Utilizing effective group dynamic skills (questioning, clarifying, paraphrasing, summarizing, consensus)
  • Applying problem solving skills (assess needs, set expectations)
  • Identifying skills and a timeline
  • Analyzing data to help team members create plans that assist them to accomplish and meet desired results and time frames

The Team’s Ability to Present

Check if team members prepare clear, concise, well-organized deliveries of information by utilizing effective oral communication skills such as:

  • Speaking clearly
  • Varying voice volume, pitch and pace
  • Displaying high levels of energy and enthusiasm
  • Applying effective eye contact and body language
  • Engaging the team audience
  • Emphasizing key points

The Team’s Ability to Verbally Communicate

Analyze by incorporating the above skills, to see if the team is able to clearly and accurately explain and articulate its:

  • Mission/vision
  • Ideas
  • Procedures
  • Policies

The Team’s Ability to Make Sound Decisions

Is the team:

  • Using the scientific method to recognize and define a problem
  • Facilitating effective ways to access and collect relevant information
  • Reviewing and evaluating alternative solutions or actions
  • Selecting the best choices and following through with the implementation of decisions

The Team’s Ability to Problem Solve

Ensure the team is creating effective and appropriate solutions by:

  • Employing analysis skills to synthesize and apply relevant information/data
  • Breaking down and clarifying the problem
  • Defining the desired outcome(s)
  • Investigating options and alternatives
  • Selecting the solution that will have the greatest positive impact in the present and for the future

The Team’s Ability to Generate a More Functional Environment

Check if the team is:

  • Selecting and developing members based on individual and group skills
  • Identifying and leveraging personality types to complement their strengths
  • Managing conflict
  • Creating team roles and expectations resulting in group capacity to facilitate win-win situations within the team setting

The Team’s Ability to Implement and Measure

Is the team executing and overseeing its action plan through:

  • The preparation and alignment of expectations and resources
  • The assessing of results against outcomes
  • Removing barriers
  • Identifying strategies for continuous progress
  • Communicating results to stakeholders

The Team’s Ability to Manage Conflict

Ensure that team members use effective techniques and practices to respond to conflict through:

  • Skill and sensitivity that results in presenting one’s position in adverse circumstances
  • Seeking to understand those with whom one disagrees to win acceptance
  • Shaping opinions
  • Earning respect
  • Identifying areas of common concern

The Team’s Ability to Research

Check if the team is:

  • Effectively accessing information from various sources
  • Analyzing and testing effective solutions that result in better performances, which are based on scientific study, case studies and best practices
  • Developing a network of experts both inside as well as outside of the organization
  • Reviewing necessary and applicable journals, books and trends
  • Utilizing experiential data and best practices
  • Conducting external and internal informational scans

The Team’s Ability to Strategically Plan

Make sure the team is developing strategies to achieve higher levels of performance and project outcomes by:

  • Prioritizing critical goals
  • Identifying and prioritizing success factors
  • Translating broad strategies into clear objectives
  • Allocating resources
  • Anticipating risks
  • Identifying constraints
  • Understanding issues that impact team performance

The Team’s Ability to Make Continuous Improvements

Check if the team is continually making improvements in processes and areas of performance by:

  • Scanning the team environment continually to determine what can be done better
  • Creating a team environment where risk taking is accepted and rewarded
  • Establishing a process where information and lessons learned can be shared
  • Tracking the progress of key steps and milestones within the project and innovative ideas that can be readily shared

The Team’s Ability to Provide Positive, Constructive Feedback

Ensure the team is providing and using positive and constructive feedback to:

  • Instill a sense of confidence in others
  • Model behaviors for replication
  • Help others attain higher levels of performance
  • Set up action plans for improvement
  • Aid in initiating a team environment of trust and accomplishment

The Team’s Ability to Collaborate

Is the team seeking the involvement of others by including them in:

  • All decision making processes
  • Establishing and building the team’s shared vision and goals
  • Identifying ways to foster good give-and-take relationships, discouraging “us vs. them” thinking
  • Building a team environment where the contributions of all members are valued

The Team’s Ability to Plan

Ensure the team is developing plans and processes by:

  • Translating strategy into specific goals and objectives to support the team’s vision
  • Identifying team capacities
  • Establishing clear, realistic timelines
  • Identifying specific action steps and accountabilities
  • Identifying, testing and confirming assumptions in the team’s strategic plans

The Team’s Ability to Manage the Project

Make sure the team is effectively monitoring its ongoing progress by:

  • Tracking progress through clearly set goals and timelines
  • Developing specific objectives, milestones, and outcome guidelines
  • Identifying resources and budget
  • Establishing specific responsibilities for collecting and/or tracking
  • Presenting critical variables related to the project
  • Effectively communicating evaluation standards, timelines, expectations, and individual follow-up procedures
  • Scheduling meetings for follow-up and review

The Team’s Ability to Delegate

Check if the team trusts others to take responsibility that is meaningful, important and interesting by:

  • Providing necessary individuals with sufficient authority and resources to accomplish assignments
  • Treating team and work failures as learning opportunities
  • Personally evaluating themselves on the willingness and ability to delegate
  • Identifying barriers that may likely hinder the ability to successfully complete the delegated task or project
  • Creating comfort levels for others

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

Personal Behavioral Patterns Can Interrupt Contact Between Team Members

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Interaction or contact between individual team members creates a personal impact caused by varying personality differences, which in turn directly affects how teams function. Team members must make contact with each other for teams to develop effectively.

Some individuals tend to make immediate team contact without hesitation, through initiating or actively participating in conversations and discussions. Others tend to wait to make contact until invited into interactive encounters. This is a direct reflection of their individual personality styles and how they relate to others and their surroundings.

Each individual member has a complex series of relationships within a team. Most of these relationships are one-to-one with other team members. However, it should be noted that individual members also have a relationship with the team itself and with each subunit of the team.

It is essential for leaders to consider how their focus on team member relationships and willingness to work to make interactions more beneficial directly impacts their teams’ performance and results. The fact that individual personality styles can enhance or inhibit member relationships has ramifications for the team communication process and impacts members’ abilities to solve problems, arrive at consensus and make effective decisions. Therefore, it is important for leaders to pay attention to these characteristics and intercede when they occur to reestablish or maintain positive interaction.

Five personal behavior patterns can interrupt contact between team members. These patterns account for the various ways some team members tend to block or inhibit their relationships with others and create barriers to team effectiveness.

All of the five behaviors outlined below are interlinked and can be exhibited by all individuals, including leaders.

Projection and Mirroring

Projection interrupts contact by producing an overreaction to certain qualities displayed by other team members. Many times individuals who use projection are totally unaware that the team members who generally overreact possess the same behavioral tendencies.

Oftentimes mirroring is displayed when particular individuals accuse others of doing or saying something that reflects their own personal behaviors.

Both of these behaviors are so prominent with certain personalities that these individuals become hypersensitive in their responses and actions with others. Projection and mirroring effectively block contact since there is always an element of judgment involved in the interaction. This invariably places other team members into defensive postures that result in ongoing internal team conflict.

Introjection

Introjection interrupts contact through a lack of thought discrimination on the part of certain individuals in accepting information, perspectives and ideas without question. Team members with a strong tendency toward introjection may work closely with other selective team members whose superior experience is accepted and unchallenged, either through admiration or intimidation.

Team members who tend to introject generally lack the experience, seasoning and expertise to openly and confidently challenge new ideas, perceptions and concepts. Consequently, introjection is considered a part of their overall learning process.

Retroflection

Retroflection interrupts contact, as individuals exhibiting this behavior do for themselves as they would do for others or as they would like others to do for them. Feelings of personal guilt are a classic form of retroflection, where fault is personally accepted without outwardly criticizing others. Retroflection is also a superb form of personal defense. It is often displayed through the avoidance of conflict, which creates a “dead area” in team relationships. Because of retroflection, certain concerned team members often find themselves becoming depressed or deflated.

Confluence

Confluence interrupts contact through a team member’s strong reluctance or inability to reflect inwardly. Outward contact is considered necessary and a top priority for individuals who display this behavioral trait. These members are strongly team-oriented and will often refuse to disband their teams when assignments are completed. Or, these individuals will tend to remain in contact with specific team members long after their teams have been dismantled and their projects disbanded. Additionally, team members who exhibit confluence tend to possess the inability to adequately pace themselves in their tasks and assignments.

Deflection

Deflection is an instinctive avoidance of contact. It is often displayed through the refusal to share personal feelings, perceptions or feedback. It is also identified in interruptive attempts to change subjects, generalize discussions, or tell stories rather than to focus on tasks. Some individuals often use deflection as a way to avoid emotional contact with other team members.

Excerpt: Personality Differences within the Team Setting: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

Five Pitfalls Teams Need to Avoid

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Is Conflict Destructive to Your Organization?

The Challenge of Handling Conflict

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Boosting Team Communication:  Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series

Conflict Resolution: Pinpoint Management Skill Development 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

Team Members Support One Another, Collaborate Freely and Communicate Openly

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The formation of teams creates substantial and sustainable long-term benefits for the organization, including the fostering of a self-managing environment where employees are fully empowered to make decisions that increase their efficiency, effectiveness and overall productivity.

Many organizations will transition from groups and committees to formally structured teams with specific goals and objectives that are chartered by the organization to fulfill a specific purpose. Within the company, the transition can be either smooth from one environment to another, or sudden, resulting in traumatic organizational changes.

It is important for leaders to understand that the nature of a team is based upon a discipline that the team structure imposes on itself. Teams create a fully empowered environment that allows organizations to become more efficient, effective and productive. This shift provides companies with the flexibility to become more adaptive to the forces of change, and as a result the world has witnessed an overall increase in global competition in virtually every industry.

Many organizations purport to have so-called team environments, but some standard working groups are mislabeled or misidentified as teams. Some of the most common groups to be mislabeled as teams are discussed below.

Committees

Organizational committees usually serve as an investigative or advisory body reporting to an appointed person or to the one who organized them.

Task Forces

Organizational task forces are temporary problem solving groups formed to deal with issues that overlap lines of authority. A task force may, for its duration, be full or part time.

Quality Circles

Quality circles consist of groups of employees and supervisors who are seeking ways to increase the effectiveness of workgroups through higher productivity and improved quality.

Project Groups

Project groups are organized to work specifically on a project such as a new product or a new facility. Like the task force, the project group may have a temporary existence. When its mission is accomplished, the group disbands.

Teams have many traits that distinguish them from groups. They are normally chartered to fulfill a specific organizational purpose. The most distinguishing characteristic of a team is that its members have as their highest priority the accomplishment of team goals.

The most important business at hand is the success of the team in reaching the collective goals set by its members. Members support one another, collaborate freely and communicate openly and clearly with one another. Effective teams are able to accomplish their organizational purpose within specific areas, as outlined below.

Information

Within the effective team environment, information flows freely—horizontally, vertically and to the entire team. There is a full sharing of information among team members, and individuals are open and honest about what they are communicating with each other.

Personal Relationships

As the team environment develops and is fostered, nurtured and sustained, relationships on the team become more trusting, respectful, collaborative and supportive. Individuals learn to work together and respect one another’s input, perspective and opinions.

Conflict

Within a healthy team environment, conflict is regarded as natural and helpful when it centers around examining issues and key points that need to be addressed and is confined to issues, not personalities. In most group environments conflict is often rooted in personal traits, motives and agendas that tend to be destructive to everyone involved. Once the team environment is fostered and developed, most team members will use conflict constructively to address issues, solve problems and make decisions by examining all aspects of each element.

Team Atmosphere

As team members learn to work with each other in an effective team environment, they become more trusting, respectful, collaborative and supportive, creating an open and nonthreatening environment in which to operate.

Decisions

Decisions in the team environment are arrived at by consensus rather than by a majority vote or by forcing members to agree with the decision of the group. By arriving at a consensus, each team member is fully committed to a full and efficient use of the resources available to the team. In this manner each team member is fully responsible for the decision of the entire team.

Creativity

Within many organizational groups, the emphasis is on activity and end input, rather than output and solutions. Within an effective team environment, the team members create more solution-oriented outcomes. The focus of the group is on results, not activity.

Power Base

Within many organizational groups, it is not uncommon to see power hoarded by individuals or small groups based on internal politics and personal agendas. However, in an effective team environment the power of the team is shared by all of its members. It is based on the competence of each member and the contributions that each makes to the team.

Motivation

Within many organizational environments individual achievement is valued without concern for the group. Individuals and groups place their personal interests over and above the interests of the organization. However, on a team, the individual members set the environment for a commitment to group goals. Rather than being coerced and pressured to go along with imposed goals, members find that there is more chance for achievement through the advancement of the team.

Reward

Within many organizational groups the basis for rewards is often unclear. They can be based on subjective and often arbitrary appraisals of performance, favoring specific individuals over others. However, within an effective team environment the rewards are based on the contribution that the group provides to the organization. The team, rather than individuals within the team, is rewarded for its performance.

Excerpt: A Team’s Purpose, Function & Use: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

There are Only Three Reasons to Form a Team

Seven Characteristics of Strong Teams

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Five Critical Factors of Team Success

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

Communication Starts With Respecting What Others Have To Say

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As teams are composed of different personalities with different communication styles, communication problems will occur even when team structures are properly constructed and implemented.

Leaders must learn to deal with the practical elements of communication and overcome problems associated with group or team dynamics before moving ahead with more advanced communication issues.

It is important for leaders to understand that before teams can learn to communicate effectively, team members must first learn to communicate by each respecting what the other has to say. Leaders will find that this is the initial challenge that must be overcome after team formation.

Leaders should understand the common problems experienced by groups that can hinder the effectiveness and productivity of the team.

Floundering

Teams commonly have trouble intiating and ending discussions. Members flounder, wondering what actions to take next. Resistance is experienced as the team moves from one phase of the discussion to the next.

Problems from the onset suggest the team lacks clarity or is overwhelmed by the assignment. These startup problems suggest that team members are not comfortable enough with one another to engage in meaningful discussions.

Floundering during discussions suggests that the team has not arrived at a consensus. Team members can be reluctant to expose their work to review and criticism.

Overbearing Participants

Overbearing participants wield a disproportionate amount of influence over the team. They often have a senior rank within the company or possess in-depth technical knowledge. While most teams benefit from their participation, they can cause problems when they forbid any discussion that encroaches on their area of expertise or authority. Overbearing participants will tend to see such group solutions as unworkable, or they will use technical jargon signaling that the subject is off-limits to the group.

Leaders can minimize these problems by reinforcing to the team that, as long as it pertains to the current subject, no area is off-limits. Privately, leaders can talk with overbearing individuals to let them know that it is important for the group to explore the particular subject and for individuals to understand the process.

Dominating Participants

Some team members can consume a disproportionate amount of time by talking too much. Their excessive input inhibits other members of the team from participating. Leaders should structure discussions to encourage equal participation, and openly solicit input and contributions from all team members.

Reluctant Participants

Reluctant participants may feel shy or unsure of themselves in the team, and must be encouraged to contribute their ideas and perspectives. Problems can develop when there are no activities built-in to persuade these individuals to participate.

Leaders must act as gatekeepers to the discussion by openly and actively soliciting input and contributions from these individuals. These measures ensure balanced participation from the entire team.

Self-Assured Statements

Some individuals express personal beliefs and assumptions in a self-assured manner. These statements are so forceful that other team members assume they are hearing a presentation of facts. Consequently, members are reluctant to question these statements without facts and data to defend their position. They may also fear being wrong and thus losing face with the team.

Leaders cannot allow unquestioned acceptance of opinions as facts. They must use techniques and questions that compel members to support their statement with facts and to hold it up to the scrutiny of the entire team.

Rush to Accomplishment

Many teams will have individual members who are impatient and wish to rush through the training activity. These members will come to a decision before the team has had the time to discuss and consider alternative solutions. They will then urge the group to decide matters quickly, and will discourage any further efforts to analyze or discuss the matter. These members can communicate their impatience using nonverbal behavior or direct statements.

Leaders must remind the group of their focus and make sure that specific members do not exert pressure on the team to finish prematurely. If all else fails, leaders may need to directly confront the offender.

Attribution

As a way of bringing meaning to apparent disorder and confusion, people tend to attribute motives to individuals they disagree with or don’t understand. This behavior can lead to hostility in the team environment. Leaders must reaffirm the purpose, boundaries and framework of the training exercise and intervene when such behaviors are exhibited by team members.

Discounting

Discounting occurs when team members fail to assign other members’ ideas and options any validity, credence or credit. If discounting happens frequently, teams can experience hostility.

Every team member deserves respect and attention from the entire team. Leaders must ensure that the team is trained from the onset in active listening and other constructive behaviors. When possible, the leader should provide support to the discounted individual. Leaders will also need to privately discuss the matter with the team member who is responsible for discounting.

Digression and Tangents

Wide-ranging and unfocused team discussions are a natural tendency as teams stray from the topic. While some digressions may be entertaining, they divert the team from the purpose of the activity. Team facilitators are responsible for bringing these discussions back to the team’s agenda.

Feuding Team Members

Feuding team members can disrupt the entire team with their personal disagreements. Usually these feuds predate the team and are best dealt with outside of the team environment. Leaders can offer to facilitate a discussion to end the personal feud or at least arrive at an agreement concerning their behavior in the team setting.

Excerpt: Boosting Team Communication: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

Are Your Teams Really Working Groups?

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

When Performance Lags, Look to the Team Culture

Strategies and Solutions for Solving Team Problems

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

Overcoming and Preventing Groupthink

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Overcoming and preventing groupthink tendencies requires leaders’ constant diligence and continual attention. For constructive thinking to occur within team environments, individuals must possess high degrees of like-mindedness regarding the basic values and mutual respect needed for their teams to succeed. This requires a level of cohesiveness, where personalities become blended and balanced through common missions and purposes.

As leaders attempt to tackle the complicated issues surrounding groupthink, they should be cognizant of the critical evaluator roles all team members assume. They need to understand the constant hazards associated with issues that require rapid action, such as prolonged debates, or with open criticism that potentially leads to damaged feelings, especially when team members resolutely live up to their roles as critical evaluators. Feelings of rejection, depression and anger might be evoked when challenging particular team decisions. This can have a corrosive effect on team morale and working relationships.

It is important for leaders to understand both the negative and positive consequences associated with individual personalities when it comes to dealing with complex groupthink issues. The personality mix of individual team members determines and impacts subsequent team environments and group dynamics. The addition or removal of individual team members tends to greatly impact team environments and their interrelated dynamics.

There are specific strategies to prevent and overcome groupthink tendencies. These can also be implemented when particular individuals are actively decreasing overall team effectiveness.

Create Subgroups

Leaders may need to periodically create subgroups that meet separately under different group leaders to work on the same general team problems. This method creates contrastive team environments with varied personality mixes for arriving at separate conclusions. Once these subgroups have each arrived at a separate consensus, they should all be brought together as a unified team to present their findings and negotiate specific differences.

Consult with Other Associates

Leaders should discuss their teams’ deliberations with trusted associates in their organization. These individuals should possess different expertise, outlooks and values. Once identified, they are expected to make independent evaluations and critiques of team progress. They should be able to offer fresh perspectives and possible solutions that may have been overlooked.

Leaders should then report back to their teams on these in-depth discussions and incorporate newly acquired ideas and recommendations into their teams’ deliberation processes.

Invite Outside Expertise

Leaders should periodically introduce outside expertise into their team environments. This expertise can come from individuals who are trusted associates in their own organizations. They should be selected because of their inherent capacity to grasp new ideas quickly, their ability to identify hidden agendas, their sensitivity to moral and ethical issues and their verbal skills to effectively communicate criticism directly to the teams involved.

Regularly Rotate the Role of Devil’s Advocate

While the role of devil’s advocate is institutionalized in most team environments, leaders should assign the role to a different individual for each team meeting. This rotation gives all team members the opportunity to actively challenge the consensus of the majority at, instead of after, a team meeting.

Spend Time on Surveying Warning Signs

In order to counteract their team’s illusions of invulnerability and tendency to ignore warning signs that interfere with member complacency, leaders may need to make a concerted effort to induce both themselves and team members to pay specific attention to special risks and make appropriate contingency plans accordingly.

Even when team members are assigned specific roles to point out the potential risks that the group needs to consider, they are likely to disregard any warnings if there is a preexisting consensus among the members. Therefore it is critical for leaders to invest time and energy to address specific warning signs that may otherwise go unrecognized because of individual teams succumbing to a groupthink mode.

Holding a Second Consensus Meeting

In order to prevent premature consensus based on feelings of invulnerability, stereotypes and unexamined assumptions, second meetings should be scheduled before individual teams make actual commitments and after they have arrived at their initial consensus. When teams arrive at a consensus, leaders should announce this second meeting, providing individual members with a sufficient amount of time to ponder and reconsider their deliberations, discussions and solutions.

Members should be encouraged to play devil’s advocate and express all residual doubts and rethink entire issues before making any definitive decisions. They should be encouraged to challenge their own arguments and fully disclose and discuss all related risks and objections. Individual team members should present any and all possible objections that have not been previously discussed and explored.

To facilitate discussions, team members should be encouraged to prepare one to two-page documents ahead of time to stimulate open dialogues. These documents need to be collected, copied and disseminated to all team members at the second consensus meeting.

Team secretaries should compile and summarize all key points into a formal document that is given to all members, including the supporting documentation that every individual team member initially provided. This process ensures full disclosure and discussion of all key points, doubts and objections that were not originally brought up prior to the team consensus.

Related:

Five Pitfalls Teams Need to Avoid

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong & Productive

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Excerpt: Personality Differences within the Team Setting: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

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.

January 28, 2013 at 10:39 am

A Systematic Approach is Required to Structure Your Teams

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Leaders should be cognizant of the fact that teams do not evolve automatically, and that the only things that do in the organizational environment are disorder, friction and poor performance. Effective team design and structure require thinking, analysis and a systematic approach to their development.

Organizational and team structures are not mechanical, but organic, as both organizations and the teams that work within them are comprised of people, not machines.

Additionally, designs and structures are unique to the organization, matched to meet its particular needs and objectives. Leaders should note that some of the worst team development mistakes were made when a mechanical model of an ideal team structure was imposed upon a living and organic business.

It is important for leaders to understand that strategy determines the structure of a team. The basic questions, “What is our business?” “What should it be?” and “What will it be?” define the purpose of any team and organizational structure.

The answers to these questions identify the key tasks and activities for which specific teams are formed. It is this effective structure that makes these activities get off the ground, function and produce results. Therefore team structure needs to be primarily concerned with these key activities; all other purposes are secondary.

Team structure demands self-discipline from every member. All individuals must take responsibility for the work of the entire team and its performance. It is the combined efforts of organizational teams that allow them to accomplish all of the key goals and activities.

Teams need to be designed and structured to integrate three distinct forms of work:

Operating Task – responsible for producing the results and output of the team.

Innovative Task – enables the team to approach its assignment with a view toward the possibilities the team can attain.

Management Task – directs the work of the team, creates and monitors its vision and sets its course.

All of these distinct forms of work are integrated into the team’s structure and approach. The specific blend of these tasks is determined by the responsibility, assignment and makeup of the team.

The structure and approach of the team is created to satisfy specific organizational needs, including:

Clarity

Clarity should not be confused with simplicity. Teams can be working on complex problems and issues that require complex solutions. They are not expected to simplify these solutions for the sake of the organization, but they should clarify them so they are understood and implemented.

Economy

Teams must employ an economy of effort to maintain control over the group and to minimize friction between team members. Excessive time devoted to the resolution of internal problems wastes the team’s resources and is uneconomical.

Direction

The direction of the team must be geared toward results rather than the team process. This means that teams should be concerned with the reasons why they were created rather than with the techniques they need to employ. The focus should be placed on output over form.

Understanding

Teams need to be structured so that team members clearly understand their specific roles, tasks and assignments and how each contributes to the accomplishment of individual team goals.

Decision Making

Decision making must be structured to focus on the right issues; it must be action- and results-oriented.

Stability

Teams must be structured for stability rather than rigidity. This allows them to survive turmoil and to adapt to the changing circumstances and environment that they are operating within.

Perpetuation and Self-Renewal

The team structure should be conducive to producing new leaders for the organization, and further be instrumental in helping these new leaders continually grow and develop their skills. It is this self-renewal of leadership that allows teams and organizations to develop and incorporate new ideas. Only with self-renewal can businesses maintain their competitive edge.

Related:

There are Only Three Reasons to Form a Team

The Use of Teams Requires Self-Discipline

Five Critical Factors of Team Success

How Do Know If Your Teams Are Remaining Strong & Productive

Excerpt: Developing a Team Approach (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

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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