Having a great team is a cornerstone of organizational success. Lack of clarity about purpose is a frequent cause of team failure. As a leader, you need to lead your team to understand the very existence of the team and answer the question “what are we here to accomplish?” When the purpose is clear to all, it provides the motivation for ongoing effort and willingness to endure setbacks and tackle tough obstacles. A positive team experience not only gets the task done well, it also helps to fulfill the intrinsic needs of team members for a greater feeling of belonging, personal accomplishment and significance. According to Douglas MacGregor, author of “The Human Side of Enterprise” and Katzenbach and Smith “The Wisdom of Teams”, great teams have the following characteristics: • There is a clear unity of purpose: There is free discussion of the objectives until members could commit themselves to them; the objectives are meaningful to each group member. • The group has taken time to explicitly discuss group process -- how the group will function to achieve its objectives. The group has a clear, explicit, and mutually agreed-upon approach: mechanics, norms, expectations, rules, etc. Frequently, it will stop to examined how well it is doing or what may be interfering with its operation. Whatever the problem may be, it gets open discussion and a solution found.
• The group has set clear and demanding performance goals: For itself and has translated these performance goals into well-defined concrete milestones against which it measures itself. The group defines and achieves a continuous series of "small wins" along the way to larger goals. • The atmosphere tends to be informal, comfortable, relaxed: There are no obvious tensions, a working atmosphere in which people are involved and interested.
• There is a lot of discussion in which virtually everyone participates: But it remains pertinent to the purpose of the group. If discussion gets off track, someone will bring it back in short order. The members listen to each other. Every idea is given a hearing. People are not afraid of being foolish by putting forth a creative thought even if it seems extreme.
• There is disagreement and this is viewed as good: Disagreements are not suppressed or overridden by premature group action. The reasons are carefully examined, and the group seeks to resolve them rather than dominate the dissenter. Dissenters are not trying to dominate the group; they have a genuine difference of opinion. If there are basic disagreements that cannot be resolved, the group figures out a way to live with them without letting them block its efforts.
• Most decisions are made at a point where there is general agreement: However, those who disagree with the general agreement of the group do not keep their opposition private and let an apparent consensus mask their disagreement. The group does not accept a simple majority as a proper basis for action.
• Each individual carries his or her own weight: Meeting or exceeding the expectations of other group members. Each individual is respectful of the mechanics of the group: arriving on time, coming to meetings prepared, completing agreed upon tasks on time, etc. When action is taken, clears assignments are made (who-what-when) and willingly accepted and completed by each group member.
• Criticism is frequent, frank and relatively comfortable: The criticism has a constructive flavor -- oriented toward removing an obstacle that faces the group.
• The leadership of the group shifts from time to time: The issue is not who controls, but how to get the job done.
You need a high level of TRUST to make the above 10 key points work. In many ways, team is actively trying to gain trust; trust others to accomplish the task; trust in the processes they are using; trust in each other. Trust does not happen in the first meeting or even the first five meetings. In fact, research suggests it can take five or more months for a team to achieve a high level of trust. Some teams, because of various traps, never do! In my next article, I will share with you some quick ways of how you can still trust in your team.