May 1, 2009 by Jill Geddes, Partner, Trillium Teams Inc
As you start to think about personal plans and goals for the New Year; have you ever considered a Resolution List for your team? This is a list of items you would like to work on as a team in order to help accomplish your goals for next year. As we have met with various managers from a wide range of organizations this year, common themes for areas of team improvement have emerged.
What follows is our compilation of the top five most requested areas for improvement or change in team dynamics that you might want to consider for your year ahead:
- Improve the effectiveness of team meetings
- Increase our team profile within the organization
- Improve internal team communication
- Increase team accountability
- Develop team dynamics
Improve the Effectiveness of Team Meetings
Are you having regular team meetings? How effective are these team meetings? Team meetings are absolutely essential to team effectiveness because this is the best opportunity for the team to formally come together and hear about upper management communications, share ideas, and foster team spirit. Yet so often, team meetings don’t occur on a regular basis, or they get cancelled on short notice, or the forum for discussion and exchange of the meeting is a mere token exercise in communication, and viewed as a waste of time. It’s important that meetings happen in regular and consistent intervals, and in a format as agreed upon by the team. The manager should guide the group in reviewing the team meeting on a semi-annual basis to ensure that they are indeed valuable and informative.
When reviewing team meetings, use the simple guideline of the three Ps: purpose, people and process. What is the purpose of the team meeting, who needs to be involved and what is the best process for sharing this information?
Increase our Team Profile within the Organization
What is the perception of your team within the organization? Do you feel that others have a good understanding of what the role of your team is within the bigger picture of the organization? Do others know what your team contributes, who to contact for what and some general procedures? This is a very common team challenge and could simply be a result of being too inwardly focused and occupied on the output of the team. The perception may be that there is not enough time to promote your team to other managers and employees across the organization. The reality is that this does not have to be a time consuming make work project. Take the time to sit down, as a team, to discuss your successes and ways to promote and educate others in the company about your team’s role within the organization.
How well do you think you communicate as a team? Almost every team we’ve worked with over the past year has stated that they need to improve on both their internal and external communications. How does a team improve communication? First things first, it starts with internal communication. Does everyone on the team understand one anothers roles and responsibilities? As basic as this might sound, it is so often the case that team members do not know the everyday tasks, challenges and output of other roles of teammates. It can be difficult to ask someone when the assumption is that everyone already knows. Think about creating a team communication plan. Sit down as a team and discuss roles and responsibilities, team documentation, email etiquette, decision making, and team norms.
Increase Team Accountability
Do you believe that everyone on your team feels accountable for their work, for their actions, for helping to improve team dynamics? There are three basic levels of responsibility that must be achieved in order for a team to increase their accountability. First, each team member must feel a sense of personal responsibility for the work of the entire team. This feeling results from a true acceptance of team membership by the individual. Second, their must be a sense of accountability to the other team members. The manager and team members should hold one another accountable. When one person contributes a great deal, they should be recognized, and when another fails to contribute, he or she should answer for that. Last, there should be accountability to parties outside of the team. These levels of accountability allow the profile of the team to be raised and view the team as a cohesive, well functioning entity.
Develop Team Dynamics
How would you rate your team dynamics? Does the team perform well, hit performance standards and the goals they have set for themselves? Does the team take on new challenges and projects willingly? Do the individuals grow and evolve their skill set as a team? Does everyone enjoy working with each other and gain satisfaction from a team accomplishment? These factors make up team effectiveness. Taking time to develop your team dynamics is extremely important in ensuring your team is effective and operating at its optimum level. There are many ways to develop team dynamics, some suggestions are: taking the time to learn about the different work and communication styles, building a team charter, reviewing team processes, or discussing ways to have more fun as a team.