Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #73
From the Greenbelt of Boise Idaho, Sunny Summer Day
Evolution has wired us not merely to form dominance hierarchies but to work together when a vital task demands more than any single individual can accomplish alone.
– Ruth Wageman, etal, Senior Leadership Teams
Setting teams up for success takes intentional focus and design. Research by Richard Hackman and Ruth Wageman identified six steps to enable effective teams. You can use the following overview to do a quick assessment of your team(s). Rate each of the six steps on a scale of 1-5 with:
- 1 = unclear and/or poor definition,
- 3 = some clarity and mediocre functioning,
- 5 = Clear to everyone and functioning very well.
1. Decide if a team is needed.
Some work is best done by individuals, and it is unproductive to assign to a team. A team is best utilized when work requires interdependent application of diverse skills and perspectives to arrive at the best possible outcomes. Clarify the scope of the teamwork required. Think through what the team exists to accomplish. Is it to provide information exchange, consult and advise, coordinate action, make decisions or a combination of the four?
2. Define a clear compelling purpose.
Define a purpose that is consequential, challenging and clear. A few questions to answer are:
- What is the creative purpose that requires the team to work together interdependently?
- What is the desired impact that has sufficient challenge for the team to pursue together?
- Is the purpose clear to all the team members?
3. Get the right people on and the wrong ones off.
Select team members based on their teamwork abilities and their capacity to provide the diversity of skills, experience and representation to make the team effective. Be clear about who is on the team and who isn’t. Don’t keep people on the team who aren’t collaborating and delivering what the team needs, as that undermines team effectiveness. Provide for team stability to enable them to learn and grow together, and support onboarding for new team members when needed.
4. Develop a solid structure.
Set clear roles and responsibilities including team leadership expectations, and limit the number of team members to the critical few needed to complete them. Each additional person added to a team significantly increases the number of connections required between team members and slows decision-making, coordinated action and effective discussions. Adding more people for representation bogs teams down unnecessarily. Enable the team to establish clear norms for how they will work together and hold each other accountable for the work and the expected outcomes from the team’s stakeholders.
5. Provide the support needed.
Provide the information, educational resources, technical, financial and other material resources the team needs to do the work well. Have a clear executive champion who clears roadblocks holding the team up from effective progress. Ensure teams and team members are recognized, acknowledged and rewarded for their work as a team.
6. Coach the team
Identify who and how the team will be coached to accelerate learning, growth and effectiveness. The coach could come from within the team, the team leader, or from an external team coach. Ensure whoever is coaching the team has the necessary skills and rapport with the team to be effective in elevating their results.
Reflecting on these six steps, how solid is your team’s foundation for success? If your score was:
- 6-18: the team is setup to struggle. Consider putting the right pieces in place and relaunching the team.
- 19-24: the team has many elements in place. Focus on the important areas to accelerate team effectiveness.
- 25-30: the team has a solid foundation. Consider what enables further growth and learning within the team to expand their results and share their insights with other teams, building a network of teams for the organization.
I work with teams and leaders to create better results through the conscious evolution of our practice of team leadership. To learn more about team assessments and design contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s create a better future today!