Jim Rose
EQ Consulting Services
611 Bear Den Road
Townsend, TN  37882
865-207-4480

jrose@eq-consultingservices.com

How Teamwork and Accountability Improve Business Results

Teamwork Accountability Improve Business Results

From a management perspective, teamwork may seem like extra work — and it can be, at first. For leadership structures accustomed to a top-down approach, the change in mindset can be one of the greatest challenges.

However, when you implement a plan to foster and manage teams, you’re investing in the long-term success and stability of your company. The payoff comes in the form of better results, higher productivity, and the synergy made possible through collaboration, empowerment, and trust.

When teamwork fails, it’s often because organizations have skipped critical steps that ensure performance and accountability. To understand the process, let’s talk about the six critical steps for teamwork I’ve identified during decades of working with a range of businesses.

6 Keys to Building Teamwork

1. Buy-In at the Leadership Level

A teamwork-driven approach must be implemented from the top down. The organization’s leadership must be the first to embrace a fresh understanding of how teamwork functions and the value it brings.

One of the most effective ways to drive top-level commitment is to bring in an experienced resource to work with leadership. To build an understanding of the methods and benefits of teamwork, he or she can facilitate a pilot activity to demonstrate the approach, or even bring in leaders from businesses that have successfully implemented teamwork for Q&A sessions.

2. Engage an Experienced Resource

It’s not only the leadership who needs to buy in to the process. All team members benefit from the mentorship of someone who can share success stories and real-life examples of the process and end results, particularly as they play out in different parts of the company structure.

In order to be effective, this resource must be able to have an effective working relationship with the company leadership and all employees.

3. Establish Teams

Experiencing teamwork is the only way to really understand teamwork, so leadership should form the first team and undertake a pilot activity to evaluate the process.

With the success of the leadership team and pilot activity, progressively expand the model until everyone within the organization is a part of a work group. Not only will each group work on activities together, but they will be led in exercises that help the various teams work together within the larger company structure.

4. Train the Teams

Before the journey really begins, team members need to undergo training in teamwork skills like trust, communication, and synergy. The training process also teaches the necessary skills to improve the team’s processes:

  • Mission: what they are striving to achieve
  • Measurement: KPIs and goals for measuring success
  • Initiatives: the most important changes needed
  • Implementation: plans for successfully making each change
  • Monitoring: monthly meetings to continuously implement and improve

5. Identify the Facilitators

Whether internal or external, all teams need a trained facilitator. Not everyone is equally equipped to lead work groups during team-building activities, and a facilitator helps keep everyone on the right path.

When I worked with the Ponderay Newsprint Company, I served as the facilitator for the leadership team, while staff members I trained served as facilitators for the other work groups.

6. Monitor Effectiveness

As with any strategic planning process, it’s important to periodically evaluate each team’s effectiveness and the performance of the program as a whole. In teamwork-driven programs, this role should fall to the facilitator.

He or she should be continuously monitoring team progress, routinely attending meetings, and periodically reporting the results to the team and the leadership. Each team should also make quarterly presentations to leadership regarding the team’s progress on KPI goals and mission-critical outcomes.

Plenty of effort goes into the team building process, but it results in an environment in which all team members are working effectively toward the same overarching goal, which benefits everyone.

I have led teamwork initiatives for 30 years as a part of various corporate leadership structures, and for 17 years as a change consultant. If you have any questions about implementing a teamwork-driven approach or need an expert to facilitate your teamwork program, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Would you like to see this approach in action? Simply download the Ponderay Case Study here!

Ponderay Case Study

Is teamwork an easier way to manage?

 

Teamwork is NOT an easier way to manage.  For example it is a lot easier to just tell someone what to do rather than taking the time to listen to their viewpoint (which could be a better way) or to get buy in to your decision.

Then why do it?  You should consider doing it because it provides much better results along with improved employee satisfaction and commitment to the organization.  It could be an edge that you would have over your competition.

Lots of organizations post teamwork posters on the wall and say they have teamwork.  However, very few organizations really understand teamwork in a business environment thus very few practice high performance teamwork.

Possibly a basketball team example could assist with understanding teamwork.  Five good players could be put on the court and be called a team.  However, if each player’s highest priority was how many points and boards they could get as an individual, would you expect to have good team results?  Thus good teamwork along with good skills is required for good results.  This is not only true for a sports team but it is also true for organizations.

Where would you start to consider changing your culture to one of teamwork?  Top leadership must learn to better understand it and see its potential value. 

The first step could be to find the right professional.  I believe that using a professional is required for effectively implementing teamwork.  There are thousands of professionals out there that say they are experts but the key is finding someone that has transformed a culture and thus can prove their abilities.  They should be able to help with understanding teamwork and what is required.

The next step could be to establish a pilot team for evaluating the process.  It could be a group anywhere in the organization where it seemed that the environment was appropriate.  The other option would be to start with the top leadership team so they could learn by experience and lead by example.

Thousands of books have been written on the subject so teamwork must have value.  Can you afford not to properly evaluate it as a possibility to make a real difference with the effectiveness of your organization?

Contact me for a free consultation if you would like to discuss any aspect of teamwork.

 

How effective is the teamwork of your leadership group?

 

One of the characteristics of a high performance team is that they are continuously looking for means to improve their performance.   Does your team do this?  Most leaders feel they have good teamwork but that is not always true.

Planning a team effectiveness survey

There is a simple way to determine just how strong your team is. 

  • Team Effectiveness Survey is attached that can be used and how the survey used is very important.
  • First of all the questions can be changed if you determine that to be appropriate. 
  • Who administers the survey is critical. 
    • The administrator should be someone that the team would trust. 
    • The leader could just send the survey to his team and ask them to provide their assessment and return it because the truth will not always be expressed. 
    • Frequently this is an outside resource such as a consultant. 
  • All members of the team should be told that responses from specific individuals will not be shared. 
  • The administrator will simply summarize the feedback and share the results with the team that took the survey. 

Using information obtained from the survey

  • When the survey summary is presented to the team the information should be sorted with the areas in the most need for improvement at the top and the least at the bottom.
  • Then the group should discuss the items at the top and develop a plan for changes they should make to improve their teamwork.
  • This discussion would best be conducted by an administrator, facilitator or consultant. 
  • A plan would be developed that identified actions needed along with who will lead those efforts and by when they should be completed.
  • Follow up sessions are needed to ensure follow through.  Additional actions can be added as the group determines it to be appropriate.
  • At some point in time the survey, or portions of it, should be taken again to monitor the effectiveness of the plan

 

Are you brave enough to find out just how effectively your leadership group functions as a team?

 

Does your decision making style provide the best results?

Importance

Obviously leaders must make many decisions.  A key for providing effective leadership is providing for the best decisions possible.  I would offer that major decisions should be made in the leadership team of the organization.  The key is for the team to use the decision making style that provides the best results.  There are multiple styles that can be used. 

Guidelines for Making

Click here to see a Power Point slide presentation which explains basic styles.  Each of four styles has a time and place when it is the best for making specific decisions.  Each team needs to determine the means by which they will make decisions.  The slides were developed to be a part of a presentation and so by themselves might not answer all of your questions. 

 

Should you make changes with how your team makes decisions?

 

Looking for a simple technique to improve your team effectiveness…check this out

  • All groups of people that meet on an ongoing basis would benefit from having what I call Team Operating Procedures.  These are guidelines the team can develop that will improve the effectiveness of the group meetings and move them down the path of becoming a high performance team. 

 

  • There are several areas where guidelines need to be established regarding how the group will work together.  The team should strive for a consensus as they make these decisions.  Click Here to find a document that lists these areas along with a brief definition of each. Also included are examples that some teams have identified that can assist with understanding Team Operating Procedures.

 

 

Try developing Team Operating Procedures and determine if it can be helpful. 

 

 

Do you have an internal change agent?

What is an internal change agent?  It is a person working for an organization that has had training with a wide variety of tools techniques and methodologies that can assist with many aspects of improving performance.  It could be described as an internal consultant. 

Why should you consider having a change agent?  They can assist in a wide variety of ways with examples including:

  • meeting facilitation
  • problem solving
  • managing change
  • mediation
  • improving working relationships
  • project management
  • process improvement
  • improving communications
  • conflict resolution
  • and others

A larger organization should consider having this as one or more full time positions.  Smaller businesses could have it be a part of someone’s job.  You can hire someone with the skills or they can be developed.  One requirement is that the person must have good people skills.

What are the advantages of having:

Internal resource: ease of availability, less costly and it is a great means for developing future leaders.

External resource: typically more expertise will have the eyes of an outsider and ease of disposal if they do not more than earn their money.

If you have not experienced using a change agent it is difficult to comprehend the value.  You could consider finding a business associate that has used the concept and asking them for their advice.  Should their advice cause you to want to have one then develop and implement a plan for obtaining one.

 

Team members using facilitative behaviors will increase the effectiveness of a team.

Using facilitative behaviors is an area of training professionals receive that they can use to increase the effectiveness of meetings.  However, all team members can also use them to help their team meetings.  Understanding the concept can best be accomplished through examples like the following:

Reminding the team if it drifts from the agenda:  This is not just the responsibility of the leader.  It is the leader’s decision to determine if the group should go back to the agenda.

Asking individuals for their input:  This can be done if someone in the meeting is not sharing their thoughts when it is felt they could have something to offer.

Paraphrasing:  This is just summarizing what you thought someone was saying.  It can be done for a variety of reasons including: seeing if you did hear them correctly or letting them know that you did hear what they were saying correctly.

Summarizing agreement:  At times a discussion might go on longer than is actually needed because the group seems to be in agreement and is continuing to discuss the topic.  This could be headed of if someone would say “is this what we are saying…..?

Asking questions:  Be sure to do so if you are not sure what someone is saying.

Assisting the group with reaching consensus:  All participants should always be looking for means to assist the group with reaching a consensus.

Reminding the team of its mission or goal:  It should be brought to the group’s attention when a group seems to be working on things not related to achieving their mission or goal.

Validating persons or statements:  If a person brings up what could be a controversial viewpoint you should consider thanking them for bringing it up even if the group does not agree with them.  This action will increase the likelihood that they share their viewpoints in the future and that is important.

Reading and responding to nonverbal messages:  An example is a person is not paying attention to the discussion taking place.  After recognizing this try to determine why they are not paying attention and strive to get them engaged.

Using humor appropriately:  Injecting humor can add to the meeting.  The secret is doing it in the right way and at the right time.

 

I suggest having a discussion on this topic at one of you meetings and have the group identify some facilitative behaviors that they feel will improve their effectiveness. Then work hard to use them and see if they help.

Are you aware of what a facilitator can do to assist a team?

There seemed to be a lot of interest in an article that I published recently on facilitation.  So I have decided to provide additional information.  First let me provide my definition as to what a facilitator is.  A facilitator is a person that uses various tools techniques and methodologies to assist teams with increasing their effectiveness as they strive to accomplish their objective. 

A facilitator can be used many different ways.  Just to offer one example as the role of leading a meeting.  Some organizations like to have a facilitator actually lead meetings and there are situations where that is a very good option.  Other organizations want the facilitator to work with the team’s leader prior to the meeting to develop an agenda and overall plan but then the leader would actually lead the meeting.  The facilitator would sit in the back of the room, observe the process and possibly speak up at times during the meeting. 

It is critical before a facilitator starts to work with a team that they meet with the team and collectively decide what the roles of the facilitator will be.  The facilitator can offer suggestions but ultimately it is the team’s decision.  I refer to this process as negotiating a contract.

I frequently recommend that the team leader lead the meeting and the facilitation role is more of a behind the scene role.  Attached is a Power Point slide document regarding how the role of a facilitator was contracted for all teams in one organization.  This can be used as one example of a facilitator contract. 

 

If you have never worked with a skilled facilitator I would recommend trying it.  Is it appropriate to judge the concept without giving it a try?