Many times what looks like a team is not team. A high performance team is beyond skin deep and requires shared understanding.
A collection of well-intended professionals that meet, from time-to-time, around business issues, is not a team. In What It Takes to Build a Team, John R. Anderson’s dense and rewarding read, reminds me that there is no ‘I’ in team.
Identity shapes how people describe their world. The range of options that someone can identify and define their view presents little issue, until collaboration.
Teams work in concert to meet common goals:
- Share success;
- Collaborate for achievement; and
- Willing to give up resources for the good of the collective
High Performance Team Law
In our world of people, process, and technology, a single item can mean multiple things.
The law of identity presents a shared meaning, not mixed messages. Teams that identify ‘why’ and ‘what’ can create a shared meaning ‘how’.
A team is not a team when they:
- Ignore broader company issues at the cost of turf issues,
- Yield no ground and defend their current position, and
- Avoid anything with the perception to make them look professionally or politically weak
Successful team meetings require work, between meetings, to visit, listen, and hear out the other team-member position.
Here are some team behaviors required to move meeting rhetoric to meeting results:
- Opennessto inquiry without defensiveness;
- Willingness to consider improvement and change to benefit the team objective, even if that means giving up some resources or responsibilities; and
- Ability to think differently about their jobs and become more strategist and general manager, less focus on narrow issues within functional responsibility areas
Scrum, Scram, or Scam
Teams take an additional hit when delegates seem to arrive to take the place of, and hold the line for, stakeholders. Often commanded there by the stakeholder, the delegate role, can come down to: give nothing and say nothing.
Teams of delegates often show no progress as the meeting is intelligence gathering to report back to the stakeholder the shift, tone, and political winds to maneuver, jockey, and disrupt.
To understand how to create a team from a collection of individuals and leverage the strength of each than we need to understand their world: motivation.
A stakeholder analysis helps provide a lens to view their world. There is no requirement to run a project to start a stakeholder analysis. Share it with no one or share it with your sponsor or boss.
Two helpful items from Agile/Scrum project management framework help team progress:
- Team objectives, crafted by the team, identify:
- Timeline, and
- ‘Why’ and ‘how’ definition of done
- Daily stand-up meeting modification:
- Start the meeting with everyone answering: what did you do last time?
- End the meeting with everyone answering: what will you do next time?
- Track the end of the meeting with what are the risks?
Scrum is more than a software or technology development approach.
I use Agile Project Management and Scrum in change management, website design, disaster recovery, communication, and training design, anywhere teams need to collaborate for rapid results and communicate progress.
From Malfeasance to Magnificence
High performance requires constant attention, like any high performance expectation, team results are the success measure.
While there is no ‘I’ in team, there is an ‘m’ and an ‘e’. A key component to your team relies on WIIFM? (What’s In It For Me?) that identifies the ‘me’ for each the team member.
Identify the stakeholder position, and work between meetings to vet position to seek a common goal to rise above the politics.
The above team tips come from the project management profession. To lend another view, I found value from the product management, profession lens and infographic on high performance teams of interest, from Ronald Brown: