All the organizations I worked with grouped work around teams. Some of those teams had two members, others had six or more. Many teams worked well, some of them operated at peak performance. Others didn't fare well at all.
For many years I had a print hanging in my office that depicts a jazz combo with the caption "Synergy". Good jazz has synergy so too has good teamwork. Jazz players know when to take the lead and when to recede. They don't overwhelm each other, they complement each other. When team members work together like jazz musicians weaving in and out of the movements and swinging back and forth in syncopation and synergy then we have good teamwork.
In addition, jazz music also has structure and form. The structure is made up of the repeating forms that make up the music, such as notes, phrases and bars. This structure along with form brings life to jazz and allows it to have its beautiful elasticity, movement and swing.
Like cool jazz, a successful team also requires structure and form. Over the years I have found that a team's structure is made up of eight building blocks (in music terms the forms that make up the structure), each propelling it to higher levels of team performance. They are:
Are these the only building blocks that lead to highly successful teamwork? Not necessarily. Jazz composers write several excellent jazz pieces, each one with different sounds and movements, but the overall structure remains the same - it's what allows us to call the music jazz. So too, we can add another movement or building block to our piece, or we can substitute one building block for another, for example we could add "Clarifying Team Processes" instead of "Systematizing Processes;" or, "Managing Meetings" instead of "Making effective team decisions." The eight blocks I have chosen as foundational to successful teamwork is not a definitive number. However, if team leaders engage team members in cementing these eight blocks together, they will find that the members of the team will work with greater focus, synergy, collaboration and trust.
What to do: Are your team members working together like a jazz combo? Is it time to revitalize your team? Review the eight building blocks with your team members and ask them which one requires more work. Put swing and a bit of renewed life, symbolized by the renewal of Spring, back into your team.
Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC, From the Fontanie Learning Solutions Archives
Image: ambro at Freedigitalphoto.net
In today's fast paced workplace teamwork is often essential in getting things done. Teamwork is nothing other than a group of people coming together to achieve a common goal. This seems simple enough. So why are so many teams dysfunctional? The answer lies in a number of interrelated factors from how the team was initially set up to how the team's performance is ultimately measured. Here is my formula for assessing teamwork: Sp4(KSAE'VA) + C. It looks complicated but it really isn't. Here's how it works.
S = Strategy: Does the team know how it fits within the organization? Is it aligned with the organization`s vision, mission, values and goals? It is amazing to me how management can set working teams in motion without defining the vision, mission, values and goals for the organization. No wonder team members frequently struggle with the questions: "Why are we doing this?" and "How do we fit within the overall direction of the organization?"
p1= Purpose: Does the team have a clear sense of purpose? Are the goals of the team and expected results well defined and measurable? Are team members involved in the process? Often sufficient time isn't spent in clarifying the team's purpose with team member involvement. Collaboratively defining purpose, goals and expected results encourages member ownership, commitment and is the first step to assessing team performance.
p2= Process and Procedures: Are the team processes and procedures for making decisions, solving problems, resolving conflicts, managing team meetings and team projects understood by the team members? Teams run amok when these processes are murky and ambiguous. When decisions need to be made or problems need to be solved clarify the "how" by identifying the specific steps in the process. This gets everyone working from the same page. The same goes for resolving conflicts and managing meetings.
p3 = People: Do team members know what they are suppose to do? Are the roles, responsibilities clear? Are the delegated powers clear to all the members? Do members know who owns the decisions that were made? Do team members bring the "We" and not the "I" to the team? Are they cultivating respect, encouraging communication, making contributions, being cooperative, working collaboratively and understanding individual differences. p3 relates to all the people skills needed to manage team member relationships and how individual members relate to each other. This is where we apply the "grease" to the inner workings of the team so that it can run smoothly. And the grease in this instance is made up of positive influencing, negotiating and leadership skills.
p4= Performance: Does the team leader measure performance of the team as a whole as well as individual members? Does the team continually improve the way it functions? And does it learn from both achievements and mistakes? Here I suggest we learn from team sports. Measurements in team sport are transparent. As the game is played we know what the score is, who is performing and scoring, how those on offence and defence are playing, and at the end of the game we know who won or lost or whether the game ended in a tie. I often hear that it's not the same with organizational teams -"we're different you know, it's not so cut and dried." Frankly I don't buy that because what it tells me is that p1 has not been fully explored - purpose, goals and expected results are not clearly defined - so the team leader and team members don't know what to measure.
KSAE`VA How well does the team leader know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member? Team leaders need to assess individual (K) knowledge, (S) skills, (A) abilities, (E) experience, (V) values and (A) attitudes appropriately. How well we know individual team members and what they contribute to the team is a vital ingredient to team functioning. To use the sports analogy again team coaches spend a lot of time assessing how individual strengths and weaknesses contribute to team effort. So too organizational team leaders need to continually assess whether they have the right people with the right KSAE'VAs within their teams.
C = Celebrate: Finally does the team take time to Celebrate? Or does it wait for special occasions or until the team breaks up or people leave? Celebrate throughout the life of the team - after all if it's not fun - its work. If a team is having fun while successfully getting things done then usually the Sp4(KSAE'VA) + C are in play.
Questions to ponder: How do you assess your team? What do you use to measure success? How do you know the measurement works? What do you do to celebrated both your team's successes and shortcomings? Do you operate from a strategic framework? Are your team's systems and processes clear? How well do you know each team members strengths and weaknesses? What can you do to improve how your team works together and how they deliver goods and services?
Up-dated from the archives of Fontanie Learning Solutions