Building Your Team – Forming to Performing – A Quick Course
Your team’s performance is your performance! Getting off to a good start is essential to team performance!
When taking responsibility for a team a leader is faced with a basic challenge: forming a group of individuals into a unified and motivated team that can focus on performance and problem solving to improve business performance. Creating this unified effort, focused on measurable performance, and able to make decisions and take action in a timely manner is the challenge of every leader with a new team. This course is designed to present the essential skills and tasks that will achieve this goal.
The instructor has been leading teams and training teams for the past forty five years in dozens of Fortune 500 companies, as well as his own company. He has worked with Honda, Honeywell, Shell Oil, Corning, and dozens of other leading companies. He is the author of ten books on teamwork, leadership and lean management.
This introduces the importance of teams in all organizations today and the importance of effective team leadership.
- The world of work is organized into teams
- Your future will be determined by your ability to form and lead teams
- This course is about forming and building the basics, the foundation of team performance.
- About me….
The purpose of this course is to help you build a team to take ownership of performance and become a high performing team that engages in self-direction and effective problem-solving.
- To develop a team charter that gives purpose and assigns responsibility and accountability to a team.
- To help a team through natural stages of learning and maturity.
- To develop roles and responsibilities within the team and to develop a pattern of well managed meetings.
- To clarify team and individual decision making.
- To learn a basic model of team problem solving and continuous improvement.
- Characteristics of High Performing Teams
- Organizing Your Team
- Stages of Team Development
- Clarifying Decision Styles
- Keeping Score and Motivation
- Solving Problems and Continuous Improvement
- Team Building Activities
Most organizations are a living organism. They change shape and structure and sometimes as they adapt to changing conditions and business challenges. Therefore, the structure of teams will change periodically. That is not a problem if everyone has learned the skills of teamwork and continuous improvement. They will take those skills with them as they join different teams.
Teams can be organized in more than one way, for more than one purpose. It is important to be clear which kind of team you are on. A team may be an on-going core work process team, an enabling or support team, a management or leadership team, or a kaizen improvement team that works on one specific problem.
Characteristics of High Performing Teams and Cultures
High performing individuals, teams, and organizations have ten common characteristics. These characteristics have the greatest impact when they are aligned at all three levels – individual, team and organization. At the individual level, these eleven characteristics are directly related to the habits of teamwork. They are evident at the level of individual behavior, the functioning of teams, and the performance of the organization. The following is a brief description of each:
1.The Power of Purpose
2.Truth North Values
3.Urgency: the Passion for Improvement
4.Trust – Respect for People
5.Competency: A Chain of Capability
8.Systems that Support
9.Structures that Enable the Flow
10.Keeping Score and Playing the Game
Organizing Your Team
A team charter is like a contract between your team and the leadership teams, as well as customer and clients.
You may draft your own charter and present it to your manager or leadership team, or they may present a charter to you. Either way it should be discussed and result in a shared agreement.
1.Statement of Purpose
6.Membership and Sponsorship
Your team should have a clearly defined charter that clarifies their boundaries and responsibilities. Every team has boundaries. No team (including the Chief Executive’s team) can do anything it wants. Every team has a field of action and boundaries that define that field.
Developing the team charter should be done when a team is first formed. It should be jointly developed by the team itself and the team or manager to whom the team is responsible. One of the advantages of developing a charter comes from the conversation itself. Team members need to have this conversation so they develop a shared understanding their relationship, their commitments to each other, and their responsibilities as a team.
The following are the seven components that may be in a team charter:
- Statement of Purpose: Why do we exist as a team?
- Process Responsibility: What is the definition of the process that this team “owns” and is responsible for measuring and improving?
- Process Boundaries: Where does this process begin, and where does it end? Who hands off stuff to us, and to whom do we hand off our finished stuff?
- Principles: How will we behave toward one another? What is our agreed upon code of conduct?
- Communication Responsibility to Managers, Customers, Customers, Suppliers and Other Teams: Whom should we keep informed and about what? From whom do we get feedback, and to whom do we give feedback? What information do we need to provide to a manager, and when?
- Performance Responsibilities: What are the primary measures of performance for which we are responsible? This should not define specific measures (we will do that later), but the general categories of performance.
- Membership and Sponsorship: What positions or functions serve as members of this team? Who gives us the authority to take action, make decisions, and to whom do we report?
A baseball team or a work team succeeds because the players play their position with skill and enthusiasm. Outfielders, pitchers and infielders know their job, their particular contribution to the success of the team. On a team at work there are also distinct and important roles that need to be played.
When teams become mature and skilled it is common to rotate or share these roles. But first, we should understand the roles, practice them, and develop our skills. As we do, the performance of the entire team will improve.
1.The formal leader/manager
3.The Scribe (note keeper)
5.Subject matter experts (SMEs)
The agenda is the plan, the roadmap for every meeting. Without a roadmap, a group can wander around looking lost for a long time. It is important to plan the agenda in advance and have the team quickly discuss and agree on the agenda as soon as the meeting begins. This gets everyone in agreement about where we are, where we are going, and how we are going to get there.
It is desirable to have the agenda visible. If meeting face-to-face this may be projected on a screen using an agenda template. However, it is not necessary to have it on a computer. It could be on a flip chart or on paper distributed to each member either before the meeting or when the meeting starts. Being able to visualize where we are in our progress is important to the comfort level of the group. As soon as members of a group begin to feel lost, they feel uncomfortable and anxious, and that may be expressed as frustration.
Here is a possible standard agenda that you might use as a starting point with a brief explanation of each item:
Standard Team Agenda
- Approve/Agree on Agenda
- Health and Safety
- Review action plans
- Review Scorecard
- Information sharing
- Action Planning
- Next Agenda
- Self -Critique
A Checklist of "Small Things"
- Establish a “rhythm”
- Predictable place and time
- Interruption free Environment
- Arrange the Room for Maximum Participation
- Make Necessary Tools Available in Advance
- Plan Frequency for Short Interval Problem-solving
Many meetings end with everyone in apparent agreement, yet nothing happens as a result. There is no action, no follow-up, and no accountability. The meeting begins in words and ends in words. The value of most meetings is not only in the sharing of information or discussion, but in the actions that follow. Too often we fail to make clear who is going to do what to whom, and when. Every meeting should end with a clear action plan, written down, with the names of individuals who are agreeing to act and dates by which they will act.
Use the action plan form given above or some other way to record your decisions to take action with the What, Who and When clearly stated.
Stages of Team Development
In 1965, Bruce Tuckman wrote that there are normal, even necessary stages of development that a team passes through as it matures. These stages - forming, storming, norming and performing - are often presented as if you MUST go through them as you must go through childhood and adolescence. It is true that there is a normal progression in the social development of a team, but there is nothing certain about these stages. In our work settings it is normal that teams members have already established some form of relationship, may have worked on other teams, and may go quickly and relatively painlessly toward maturity.
It is still a useful framework to consider your own development. Read through the description of these stages and then ask yourselves, “Where are we in this process?”
Team Maturity and Decision-Making
Another way to understand the maturing of a team is to consider the degree to which the team takes responsibility for its own performance and how managers adjust to their maturity.
When a team acts as a truly high performing team, initiating action to communicate with customers, measuring its own performance, and acting with self-initiative to make improvements, it may be said to have high demonstrated responsibility. Many teams when they are first formed are waiting to be told what to do. They are looking to do what is acceptable, not to initiate improvements.
Who Makes What Decision, How?
As you build a lean culture it will be necessary to shift how decisions are made throughout your organization. You will increasingly become a high-trust culture as teams demonstrate their maturity and their ability to improve performance.
This is a normal transition as everyone learns to focus on the process, rather than blaming people, and everyone develops a unity of effort around providing the best possible care to customers.
The reality of most work teams is that each individual is making some decisions every day. We must trust in the responsible nature of employees who operate equipment, interact with customers or do other work on their own. Most work involves making decisions.
Keeping Score and Motivation
Every high-performing team has an effective score keeping system. The purpose of this chapter is to help you establish that system for your team.
Keeping score, taking a count, must be the oldest of all practices of management. Everything that works is not new, and some of the best things are old. Keeping score is as old as the most ancient sport and the most ancient business. Motivation hasn’t changed that much in thousands of years. As you implement management you must become very good at “playing the game” that makes work like a sport. The key to that is a good scorekeeping system. It makes work interesting, and it leads to improvement.
Dr. Deming, the legendary quality leader, used to say that when he visited a manufacturing plant, he wanted to see graphs posted, and he wanted to see dirty fingerprints on the graph. No fingerprints – no good! Why? He wanted to know that those doing the work were literally in touch with the results of their work, their score. Many thought this was a simplistic and foolish idea, but perhaps Dr. Deming understood the same common sense that every team and every coach understands.
There was a time when some managers felt that the only thing that mattered was financial results. Those who wanted to elevate the importance of quality measures, customer satisfaction, or process measures had to do battle (and usually lost!) with the financial managers.
Two things have worked to alter the view of most managers today. The first is the surge by Japanese car companies and the adoption of the quest for quality by most major U.S. corporations. These have elevated the understanding of quality and process measures. Almost all managers understand that the way you get to financial measures is through effective processes that are efficient and result in customer satisfaction. The second is the book by Kaplan & NortonTPPT that promoted the idea of a balanced scorecard which proposed a system of balanced measures in the organization.
There is nothing complicated about creating a balanced scorecard. (The trick is more in the process than in the “thing.”) Here is a diagram that illustrates the possible components of a balanced scorecard. Kaplan and Norton emphasize that their model and definition of a balanced scorecard is not something fixed in stone, but a proposal that they expect others to modify, adapt, and evolve with their own needs and experience.
TPPT Kaplan, Robert S., Norton, David P. The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 1997.
Solving Problems and Continuous Improvement
A Philosophy of Problem-solving
Problems are Normal!
You should solve problems every day. Your managers should solve problems every day. Solving problems is our job. It is why we come to work. If we had no problems, we would be terrifically bored. Celebrate problems! Every problem is an opportunity for learning.
Unfortunately, in the “old culture” before teams and lean, it was common for managers to punish those who presented problems. They thought you were doing your job if you had no problems and brought no problems to them.
Dr. Deming said that to improve we should “drive out fear.” He was addressing this philosophy of problem-solving. Fear hides problems, but it does not solve them.
The Problem is in the Process, Not in the Person
Most problems can be solved by examining how we do things, the work process. Just as health problems are often caused by the routine ways we live, most problems at work are the result of the routine, habitual, ways we get things done. Of course, sometimes they are the result of individuals not being adequately trained or informed. But, this lack of training or lack of information is, itself, a process problem. If you blame individuals for problems, you will again create fear and cause them to hide those problems. It is far better to say “I am sure you wanted to get a better result; let’s see what caused the problem.” By analyzing the problem, rather than blaming the person, you will find it much easier to make progress.
Fast is Good and Quicker is Better
Every problem has a cost that occurs in time. Health problems are exactly the same. The longer you ignore or delay solving a health problem, the more likely it is to get worse and be more difficult to solve. If a problem is causing anxiety for a customer, with every passing day the probability increases that the customer will find another supplier. These costs are usually invisible because customers rarely tell you why they chose to buy a competitor’s product or service. They generally do not consider that their responsibility. So it is your responsibility to find problems and solve them quickly.
There Are No Perfect Solutions
Every day of our life is an experiment. We experiment with new items on the menu of a restaurant. We experiment with a new variety of soup when we go to the supermarket. We experiment with a new traffic route, a new television program, or a new website. We are constantly experimenting. This is how we learn.
In our daily life we recognize that we will never find the one right and final website, or the final menu item or food in the grocery store. Why do we think we will find the perfect and final solution to any problem at work?
When we are solving problems, we are only finding the best solution we can find NOW with the facts and information we currently have. A week or month from now we will have new facts or information that may make a different solution seem better. Accepting this reality makes it that much easier to get on with the experimentation of implementing solutions. Every solution is a learning opportunity.
Address Problems that Your Team Can Control
It is always more fun to find problems that someone else should fix. It is why we enjoy sports or politics. We think politicians should fix everything, and we enjoy pointing out what a terrible job they are doing. This is fun because we are spectators. We don’t have to change our self.
Your team should address problems that are within your control.
Trust in the Power of Collective Intelligence
Let us assume that you are the smartest person on your team. But the reality is that our knowledge and intelligence is only a fraction of the combined knowledge and intelligence of the combined team. Just imagine if you could somehow lift out of each brain their experience, wisdom, and intelligence and put it in a pile in the middle of a table. Now put your brainpower on the table next to it. Your brainpower will be small in comparison.
The magic of effective group problem-solving is that the collective brain power of the group expands to the degree that it combines. In other words, if you and I have an open conversation about a problem, it is likely that there will emerge a solution which will be something that neither of us would have arrived at on our own. There is no way that your individual brainpower can match the collective intelligence of the group… if the group is able to create collective intelligence.
I Want the Facts, Nothing But the Facts!
Many years ago, before most readers of this workbook were born, there was a television detective show, probably the first “cops and robbers,” show called Dragnet. Sergeant Friday was the central character. In each show he would interview some witness to a crime, and he would always say “I just want the facts, nothing but the facts.”
It is easy to form opinions. The moment someone walks into the room, we form an opinion of them. But we don’t know them. We don’t know the facts. We don’t know what happened at home this morning; we don’t know what pain they are suffering; we don’t know what they can contribute. Opinions without facts are easy. But effective problem-solving is always based on a period of gathering the facts. Too often we think we know the facts when we only know some small portion of the facts.
Think about how problems are solved in your team. How is the above philosophy of problem-solving practiced, or not? What would you do differently if you adopted this philosophy?
For many years, even before the quality movement or lean management, there were many models of problem-solving. Many writers have defined the five, six, or seven steps to problem-solving. Most of these models include the same or very similar elements. There is no one right model or one best way. All problem-solving processes should include fact finding, brainstorming and investigating the causes of a problem, brainstorming and deciding on solutions, and action planning and follow-up. These are the most critical common elements in all problem-solving models.
When the Total Quality Management process was the primary model improvement model the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check and Act) cycle of problem-solving was very popular. It is also known as the Schewhart Cycle after Walter Schewhart a pioneer in the quality field. However, it was made popular by another quality guru, Dr. Edwards Deming. It was adopted as a common problem-solving model at many companies.
The PDCA cycle is best used for relatively simple problems, although you can place many different methods or steps within these four major steps.
Team Building and Summary
This author has a bias in regard to teambuilding. Over the past twenty years it has been popular among management teams, to participate in team building exercises outside of the work place. These are most often “ropes courses” or some outdoor exercise tha
It is both fun and can provide insight into interpersonal relationships. However, it is also true that these teams, after the “feel-good” experience of team building, go back to the “real world” of their daily work routines, and in short order those good feelings are lost. What I will call “the real stuff” takes over. The real stuff is who makes when decisions and how do they make them; how do they manage their work processes; how do they keep score and celebrate success. In other words everything covered in the previous chapters, can result in either good or bad team relationships.
Assuming that all of the issues discussed in previous chapters have been developed, there is still room for team building exercises that may improve the interpersonal dynamics of the team. I have included this chapter and these exercises at the request of clients who felt this aspect of team development was lacking in previous versions of my team workbooks.