Edgar Schein, a titan of the field of organizational development, says in his recent book, Helping, that there are four questions on the minds of new members of any team. While these concerns operate at a subconscious level, nevertheless, any team member must become comfortable with the answers before he or she can relax and start to really contribute to team goals. These personal issues are:
- What role am I to play in this group? In effect, who am I to be?
- How much control or influence will I have with these people?
- Will being part of the team meet my own goals and needs?
- How personally close and sharing are we expected to be?
Members work out at least some initial answers during the very first stage of team development, the so-called “forming” stage, where people start to get to know the other members and test out where they stand, to what degree they will be accepted into the team, where they fit in the group’s power structure (sometimes called the “pecking order”), and whether or not this will be a positive experience.
The wise leader understands this reality and does all she can to enable team members to get these questions answered for themselves so they can quickly proceed to establish the solid foundation of trust which team high performance always requires.
This is why when I facilitate a team building process I always allocate significant time for the team to collaborate on their goals & priorities, core values, and how they agree to work together. I show them how to use the Teamwork Palette tool to foster conversations and decisions that reflect a consensus about how they will “be” as a team. While this is going on, individual members begin to discover their own place–how they will “be”–in the group.
The result: they find acceptable answers for themselves to Edgar Schein’s four questions.
© 2011 – 2013, Ian Cook. All rights reserved.