I am thinking about one business unit in a client company that needs to be clarified on how they work together. Due to mergers and acquisitions, this company has many offices. One office is focused on business development while another focuses on production. The third is focused on support services. Each of the geographically dispersed employees must be able to understand how to work together at their respective sites. The offices and business unit managers need to learn how to lead these teams. How do you start?
Teams are not work groups and committees. These teams and their members need structure and information to be able to concentrate and complete the task at hand.
KNOW WHAT TEAMS MUST BE SUCCESSFUL.
Next, help your team answer these 5 simple (but not so simplistic) questions:
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO?
Each “team” has a unique history and culture. These differences, along with the fact that they work from different places, can encourage silo mentality, as well as a loss in focus. The focus of a real team is one and only one. It must be more than “Do my job and help the company succeed.” A clear goal and rallying cry must be established that outlines the boundaries between priority work, and all other activities. WHAT IS YOUR TEAM GOAL Define the one, key goal that determines success (and failure), and decide how you will measure progress. Then make sure it is communicated consistently to all team members.
WHO DOES WHAT BY WHEN AND WHO?
Every team must allocate their resources efficiently. The most important resource for any team is its members’ time and energy. It is important to clarify who is responsible for the final outcome, who is responsible for each task, what their contribution, who needs to be consulted prior or after implementation, and who needs to be informed. This will help eliminate any potential misunderstandings and keep each member of the team focused on what is important.
HOW WILL WE DO IT??
The team will not be able to continue driving the project forward if they don’t have established processes for problem solving, decision making, meeting management, risk assessment, and other regular tasks that require coordination among team members. Team members will hesitate to follow the established “rules” and look for the “answer” from the team leader when they have problems. Empowerment – the ability for a team to move forward and resolve issues as they arise – starts with an understanding and skill in what we call a team’s “tactical instruments.” Which are the most important, if time and money are limited? All teams need to a. make intelligent decisions and b. hold productive meetings. Start there.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO RELATE TO EACH OTHER AS WE DO IT!
Although it’s true that team members do not have to like each other to accomplish their tasks, it is equally true to appreciate, respect, and open communication that these things can make a difference. Facilitated team meetings can help you clarify your team’s culture. Discuss what respect and team work mean to each person. Create a working definition and define what each means for each person. Tip: Get agreement on the expectation of the team that “each person does what they say and expects the same from others.”
WHAT SUPPORT DO YOU NEED?
The two main types of “team leadership behaviors” are “support” or “accountability.” We suggest that our business unit manager start with a PSA (Performance System Analysis) as she seeks to lead these teams. The leader can quickly and easily review the environment where the performers work (in this instance, the different teams). A PSA can identify the skills gaps, unmet needs, roadblocks and imbalances that lead to substandard work. This will help the team leader understand the type of support her team requires to complete the job correctly, on time, and every time.