Does Churn Hurt or Help Team Performance?

In many organizations a lot of work is done through limited life teams. They assemble, complete a project or complex task, and then disband, with individual members going back to their regular job or on to another team's project. But such teams typically change the composition of their members. While several individuals may end up working together on another team, other members join the group. So it starts out as a "new" team, one that, from a human dynamics perspective, is destined to … [Read more...]

Allow Team Members to Find Their Place

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 … [Read more...]

Teamwork Palette®…a Tool for All (Team) Seasons

In two recent posts I have written about two capacities teams need to become high performance: Remaining aware of their team processes (vs. just tasks) and Interrupting the business of the team meeting in order to conduct "maintenance" on these processes. The problem for most teams is that group process and relations among team members can be difficult to describe, let alone objectively measure. To some managers they can also seem tricky to deal with. But, at the same time, they are … [Read more...]

Trust the Process

Years ago when I was taking courses from University Associates around how to facilitate groups, a wise instructor, Larry Porter, said these three words: trust the process. I have never forgotten them. They have been my anchor at critical times when in a team building session the conversation seems about to get out of hand. This raises the level of anxiety not only within the team but also in the facilitator. The "worst case" fear (and isn't that the one that we always bring to the fore … [Read more...]

Team Process Makes All the Difference

All teams must pay attention to their work:  the task, the goal, the things to be done, the agenda items to be crammed into their meetings, the hurried decisions to be made by the group, the deadlines to be met, and so on. But the most effective teams also monitor how well the members are working together and what the current “climate” is within the team. They quickly notice when the team becomes stuck or bogged down or loses energy and enthusiasm. When this occurs, team members stop working … [Read more...]

Don’t Neglect Team Maintenance

You plan to drive your car from Boston to Denver. It’s a long trip so, before departing, you take your vehicle into your local service center for a tune-up. You have them check your tires and battery, top up the oil and brake fluid and take it for a spin on the highway listening for any rattles that should not be rattling. Then, once on your journey when you stop for gas, even if everything seems fine, you do a quick check on how your vehicle is operating. If you don’t perform these … [Read more...]

Your Group Doesn’t Have to Be a “Team”

One of the best books written on teams and teamwork is The Wisdom of Teams by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith. They make the distinction between a "team" and what they call a "working group." The latter is the most common form in workplaces today: a VP with a group of managers, each in charge of a functional area of the department an accounting manager with a group of employees spread over the various jobs within the department. In most cases, all you need is a working group. These … [Read more...]

Article: What to Do When Your Team Gets "Stuck": 7 Ways to Get It Moving Again

There is no question about it. A team can be a powerful vehicle for accomplishing a major project, guiding a unit to superior performance, or bringing together diverse perspectives to solve a pressing problem Have you ever been a member of a smooth functioning, high performing team? Those of you who have, no doubt, harbor fond memories of how energizing it is and how great that rush of pride feels when you achieve great things together. The best teams, including certainly that great team you … [Read more...]

Article – Down the Slope and Up Again: Seven Strategies to Lead Your Team through the Recession

by Ian Cook and Scott Campbell Wherever you look, news about the economy is bad. Layoffs abound. Pfizer, a pharmaceutical giant, recently announced 8,000 job cuts. Home Depot, the biggest home improvement retailer in the U.S., said it will eliminate 7,000 jobs. Even the State of California is letting 20,000 go. The economy lost 2.6 million jobs last year, the most since 1945, and it shows no signs of improving in 2009. Large companies are hemorrhaging. General Electric Co., a bastion of the … [Read more...]

Article – Kickstarting a Brand New Team

Do you remember the last time you attended the initial meeting of a new task force or project team at work? No one could agree on the goals. A couple of people complained about all their other work demands. Someone was pushing a personal agenda to become the team "leader." After a couple of hours of struggle, with the "team's" wheels totally spinning, you began to ask yourself why you were here. In high performance organizations with project-oriented environments, ad hoc teams are becoming the … [Read more...]