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We’re all in this together
Posted By kc On May 19, 2010 @ 8:14 pm In Uncategorized | No Comments
Which of the following scenarios can you relate to?
More than likely you can relate to any one of the above scenarios, all of which have a common thread: Teams. Teams are a part of life, not just something relevant to the sports world or the latest management fad. Most of our earliest memories probably relate to being a part of a team, which are would be our families. From there, we may have been on sports teams, dance teams, church or community service teams, etc. Furthermore, we will more than likely continue to be on teams, whether we work outside or inside the home.
What is a Team?
A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.
There are three dimensions of a team: 1) Shared Work and Goals, 2) Interdependence, and 3) Mutual Accountability
The “what” for a team, as in what they were brought together to accomplish, is SHARED WORK and GOALS. These are specific performance purposes and goals that are different from the broad mission of the organization. For example, a sports team’s purpose is to win games. A process improvement team’s purpose is to identify continuous improvement opportunities for its organization.
If shared work and goals reflect the “what” for the team, then INTERDEPENDENCE and MUTUAL ACCOUNTABILITY is the “how,” meaning the way in which the team accomplishes its work. Interdependence includes roles, responsibilities, team norms, and contracted expectations. Mutual accountability includes metrics to evaluate team success, as well as the processes the teams will use to ensure that they stay on track.
The Role of Trust and Conflict in a Team’s Efforts and Effectiveness
The core of a functional team is functional relationships. These relationships need to be built on trust, to have open and honest dialogue, and to have committed team members who hold each other accountable and deliver value-added results.
The most critical phase for a team is the conflict or “storming” phase because, more often than not, that is where most team development efforts derail. And no team can progress to higher levels of performance unless its members become effective at dealing with conflict. If the team cannot do so, then members become stuck in a politically “polite” environment, in which the real issues remain hidden and meetings become a dance of bringing up and then backing away from issues. As result, teamwork becomes a chore instead of a stimulating experience and “group think” takes over.
In my experience as a consultant, I have seen this dynamic play itself out time and time again. For example, one group that I worked with had a leader who was extremely fearful of conflict. When confronted with difficult issues raised by the team, the leader chose to change the organizational structure rather than deal with the issues. The result was a team that became stuck in trust challenges and underperformed in all key business metrics.
On the other hand, I have participated in experiences in which teams have made dramatic leaps in performance after attending to their conflict challenges. For example, there was a leadership team at a theme park I worked with that was comprised of individuals from a wide variety of business backgrounds. Due to the differences in their points of departure, members viewed many issues from dramatically different perspectives. However, once team members recognized the value of what they labeled “lively discussion” and made that the norm, their performance was viewed as a turnaround performance and a benchmark for other leadership teams in the company.
How Do Teams Become Effective Stormers?
A team becomes better at conflict when the members become more comfortable with and accepting of conflict. It starts with each individual recognizing where his or her fear of conflict may come from (e.g., fear of not pleasing others, fear of losing a job, fear of appearing incompetent, etc.). As individuals become more comfortable, the team is able to engage in other activities to improve their collective comfort with conflict.
To become more effective stormers, teams could do the following:
Bottom Line: Conflict as a Creative Process
Imagine a team on which there is no conflict among members. Everyone agrees with everyone else. No one adds or subtracts from anyone else’s ideas. In meetings, they all just sit around and smile and nod their heads. Sounds lovely. Except that the organization never moves forward, no problems are ever solved and status quo becomes the organizational benchmark.
Engaging conflict is a creative process. When team members disagree, the biggest and best ideas are born through mental and emotional stimulation, meaning that conflict is the ONLY path to becoming a high-performing team. But make no mistake about it: Managing conflict effectively is not merely an option. So the challenge is how to engage people in open, productive dialogue through the use of conflicting ideas that will lead to great results, while making individuals feel safe and appreciated in the process.
Are you curious about how to transform conflict in your team or organization into a creative process and opportunity for growth? Check out the other resources (including a free assessment: Team effectiveness ) available online at www.acceleraconsultinggroup.com  or give us a call at 407.376.8522 for a free consultation. We accelerate results by igniting leadership and organizational potential!
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