Using teams to solve problems and manage processes has become common. Although some teams deliver amazing results, many bog down in a quagmire of unresolved issues.
To prevent teams from becoming yet another forgotten management fad, time and energy needs to be focused on building effective teams. To begin the improvement journey, ask your existing teams the following six questions.
1. What is the team's purpose? It should be easy to see and important to the organization. Measurable performance objectives help determine whether the team's purpose justifies the resources it will consume.
2. What is the team's plan for accomplishing its work? A successful team has a plan for reaching its objectives. It also has the discipline required for sticking to the plan and the wisdom to know when it needs to flex with a changing situation.
3. What resources does the team need to complete its work? Teams without the resources to do the job, die slow and painful deaths. Great teams know what resources they need and make sure they have access to them when they are needed.
4. What is expected from each team member? The organization has expectations for the team. Team members have expectations of one another. Effective teams talk about these expectations to make sure everyone clearly understands what is expected and agrees to accept responsibility for delivering on those expectations.
5. How does the team make decisions? Teams are faced with hundreds of decisions. A successful team has figured out how to best make decisions and is consistent in making them. Throughout the decision-making process, the team skillfully manages the conflicts that inevitably arise.
6. How do team members feel about being a part of this team? It is exciting to be part of a successful team. If the team lacks this energy and excitement, it is wise to go back and reexamine the answers to the first five questions.
Although there are more questions that could help predict a team's probability for success, these six will start the team off in the right direction. If team members seriously consider the answers to these questions, they will find many improvement opportunities that have the potential of helping the team reach performance levels beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
Tom LaForce is a speaker, meeting facilitator, and team development expert. He writes extensively about ways to strengthen teamwork and improve organizational effectiveness at his website, http://tomlaforce.com