There are four key questions a team must address and continually review, iteratively and in sequence, to improve the ability to work together effectively, to be more innovative, and to improve performance. These questions expose key problems and point toward effective solutions.
- Goals – Is the team focused on the same shared mission?
- Roles – What roles does the team need to be successful? (Also: How and by whom will each role be fulfilled? Do team members have mutual accountability and understanding of one another’s roles?)
- Rules – Is everyone playing by the same set of rules? This includes written rules (policy, procedure, regulatory issues, written core values), processes, as well as operating values and group norms.
- Relationships – How are relationships competitive and collaborative? Teams that operate with a clear, shared mission, where each member or unit knows its role, and everyone is “playing by the same set of rules” will still have conflict. However, conflict will be collaborate and innovative in form and outcome, a d be based on “right versus right” arguments. This is compared to “right versus wrong” conflict, which tends to produce dysfunctional relationships and inhibit team performance.
As a result of this model, creating a team culture where independent thinking and creativity, the combined emotional intelligence of team members leads to group consensus, innovation and mutual respect. Strategic thinking, planning and execution become part of the daily management practice of all team members. Team members no longer have the time or interest to “pick on each other’s personalities” – they are simply focused on the work that needs to be done.
However, relationships among team members cannot be ignored and there are certain activities and interventions that do make worthwhile improvements to relationships – positively effecting trust, communication, leadership, cooperation, respect and effectively leveraging the collective genius of team talents. These activities* can and should be addressed and practiced in tandem with strategic thinking, planning and execution.
*see more in my comments to this article.