Successful teamwork; yes, that is what all of us want but … How do you make sure that everyone really collaborates successfully as a team?
Successful teamwork requires two things:
- That all team members are open to the differences between team members. Precisely those differences within a ‘diverse’ team deliver more long-term results. At the same time those differences also demand more attention. Whether it’s about a newly formed team or a team that has already worked together for a while; every team should know its individual team members well to be able to actually benefit from each other’s strengths.
- Insight into behavioral patterns of the team and the Organization. People in teams and organizations behave according to specific codes / patterns, which may not suit them individually but that are ‘normal’ or ‘inevitable’ within the team structure or Organization. Such patterns transcend those of the individual team members and form the team pattern. “This is how we do things around here”, and “that is typical of our team” are comments which reflect this fact. For example, to a large extent these patterns will determine if we make decisions together and whether we stick to them; if we address each other’s conduct or not, and whether we will do something about it; and whether we accept personal responsibility or not…individual patterns of behavior and / or team patterns can sometimes make it tricky to effectively work together, both within as well as outside of the team.
How do you tackle this?
If you really want to change your business and you want to really work together as a team, then you really need to tackle existing behavior patterns. To do this the team must be aware of these patterns and be able to recognize them. Then you need to look at what is necessary in order to achieve appropriate behavioral changes in this specific team (what is the ‘old’ undesirable behavior, what causes team members to display that behavior; what does the ‘desired behavior’ look like and do we want to and are we able to adopt this?). For this process it is best for the team to be guided by an expert from outside of the team. This person is namely not part of the team, or of the existing system and current patterns that are being addressed by necessary intervention.
How long does a team leading project take?
Depending on the issues, a team leading project may be short-lived, such as 1 to 3 days, but sometimes it may also require several months to be completed. Actual duration is always determined in consultation with you.
What will the expert / facilitator be focusing on?
Developmental stage of the team
I mostly look at the developmental stage of the team first. Each stage requires a different focus of team members and of the team leader. In the initial phase (forming) the team members do not yet know each other very well yet, and there is still little in the way of interconnectedness. The team often focuses on its team leader or manager. Getting to know each other better is a very important starting point for further development of the team at this stage, as it is in the following phases also. For the team leader it is also important to gain insight into where the team needs attention at any stage. To develop insight into this, I often use a tool that measures drives / behavior of team members individually and of the team as a whole (choice of three instruments). Team members can get to know each other better through this and this creates better mutual understanding of their different points of view. This mutual understanding creates a team that collaborates much more strongly.
During the next stage (storming) the differences, irritations and conflicts between team members are often brought to the surface. There is no sense of ‘us’, and everyone applies their own personal strengths. Among other things, during this stage it is important to place emphasis on the common goal. ‘Can I see my individual goals reflected in our common goal’ is an important starting point commonly recognized in professionals. A professional needs to see something of themselves in the team if he/she is to commit to it with heart and soul.
Team roles/tasks, procedures and decisions
The next step is to look at the various roles within the team that are necessary in order to achieve the team’s mission. To work together as a goal-oriented team, its tasks, roles, working arrangements and procedures should all be clear to all team members. This makes team members aware that they need other team members to achieve results. In this stage (norming) processes and decisions are defined together, in other words, modes of collaborating are agreed to (‘this is how we do things around here’).
Interactions and relationships
80% of the time we are concerned with the ‘hard’ side of the business, such as our Vision / Mission / tasks / roles / procedures and decisions, and only 20% of the time with the ‘soft side’ (who are we and what do we think about each other, what do our interactions and relationships look like and what feelings get attention?). In fact, 80% of successful teamwork actually depends on the ‘soft side’! This is therefore specifically addressed in our team sessions.
When team goals and different roles are clear and there is awareness of the fact that more diversity actually makes teams stronger (every team member has qualities and know-how that contributes to this) the basic foundations exist for becoming a successful team. Next, feelings should be shared and discussed and once people start to give each other constructive feedback on behavior, these factors will ensure that nothing else now stands in the way for the team to work together successfully. This is stage four, called ‘performing’ and this stage reflects significant contributions to each other and to the common goals and objectives of the team; there is now optimal collaboration!
I can imagine that the above material contains quite a lot of information and raises many questions for you. ‘How can we create successful teamwork?’
Whenever you wish to exchange some ideas about this, I will be happy to make an appointment with you. We would like to share our thoughts with you about both our short term sessions or about potential long term projects.
You can reach me via email Muriel Schrikkema.