Monday, April 15, 2013

Build High Performing Teams

Effective teamwork is becoming more and more important for the success of any organization.  While tons has been written about it, building high performing teams seems to remain a mystery to many people.  Here are what I think are the four most important steps you can take to build a high performing team:

1.  Select a teamwork model.  You need to decide what you think are the most important behaviors and processes needed for a high performing team.  You can do a lot of research on this and develop your own ideas or you can pull something off the shelf.  In the Executive MBA program at Maryland we use The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.  His formula for a high performing team, which is backed up by the research, is:

*They trust one another
*They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas
*They commit to decisions and plans of action
*They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
*They focus on the achievement of collective results

2.  Teamwork Training.  Put together a training program for everyone on the team, which is based on your model.  This can be done a lot of different ways and does not have to be elaborate.  Just make sure that everyone on the team understands the teamwork model that you will be using from now on.  A great facilitator for the training is helpful, but not if you ignore the next step.

3.  MOST IMPORTANT.  Hold people accountable for their behavior.  If you are the boss, then you need constructively confront people who do not follow the correct teamwork behaviors you have outlined.  You can do this developmentally – you don’t need to be an ogre.  If you have a leaderless team, then team members need to confront one another.   This is the place where teamwork improvement breaks down most often.  If you are unwilling to confront incorrect behaviors then do not even start the process.  Everything else will be just a waste of time.

4.  Assess and continue to improve.  You can create a survey and regularly assess how you are doing or keep it simpler.  Every now and then, ask the team:  What are we doing well?  What’s not working?  How can we make what’s not working, work?  Identify gaps and make plans to improve.  Do this on a regular basis.

There is a lot more you can do – behavioral assessments, ropes courses, retreats, etc.  These are great, but without the four steps above then they are – frankly – a waste of time.  Follow the steps outlined above and your teamwork will improve – and you will make even more of a Mission Impact.

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

1 comment:

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