In every organization, there are cross-functional and inter-departmental teams who enjoy a reputation for team performance that outshines other teams. These teams aren’t necessarily smarter or more experienced, or even harder working than their peers. But in their day-to-day activities, they constantly demonstrate a spirit of cooperativeness and willingness which sets them apart from other teams.
As an Extraordinary Leader, your job is to set each team up for success. While time is always at a premium, it is important that a team invest time up front to ensure smooth sailing as they progress. There are four fundamental questions a leader can facilitate with the team before they begin working on any issues. The more experienced team members get at using these questions to jump-start their process, the easier it becomes to move through them quickly. And the bonus: once team members know how to use these tools, they take those skills with them to every team in which they participate!
FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION #1: What is our purpose?
Why has this specific group of people come together as a team? What deliverables or outcomes will this team produce? It is important that the team have a shared vision of their purpose, which has been articulated clearly. Never assume that any team member automatically knows the purpose for the team.
FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION #2: How will we operate as a team?
What are the Key Operating Behaviors for working on this team? What are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors? How will the team handle lack of participation by one or more members, disagreements, inability to reach consensus, and other interpersonal issues? How will team members be held accountable? How will leadership be managed? To whom are we responsible as a team?
FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION #3: What are our roles and expectations?
What skills/knowledge/information does each team member bring to this team? What is the expected commitment level? What does each person need from other team members in order to fulfill their responsibilities?
FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION #4: What will success look like?
How will we all know we have achieved success? What will we use to measure our outcomes? How will we celebrate? What is our timeline for success? Who outside the team is involved in critiquing our success? How can we clarify the expectations of those outside the team?
Teams who make time to go through this process consistently outperform teams who just jump in and start attacking issues. While it may feel like a lot of time up front, the return on investment is astronomical! And here’s something that may really surprise you: We have found that the PROCESS of discussing these four fundamental questions is nearly, if not more, valuable that the outcome! So carve out time now to ensure powerful, effective, results-producing teams that will outperform themselves!
(If you need guidance in facilitating this process, check out our resources and let us help you.)