A team, regardless of its size, is a mixture of personalities, values, beliefs, leadership styles and practices, and intellectual levels.
The responsibility of leadership is to unify the team members toward organizational vision, mission and goals. Because of the variety of personal characteristics, producing a cohesive group of employees is challenging, requiring simple and complex practices.
Ideally, leadership expects the team to work together on all tasks, in every situation without conflict and disruptions. However, ideally does not always occur. In these situations, leaders must be proactive in the process and create an approach that will re-unify the team to insure a smooth-operating group.
Here is an easy and simple method that I used successfully in the past. The exercise produces within the team – 1. A singular purpose, 2. Behaviors that are acceptable (Ok), 3. Behaviors that are unacceptable (Not Ok), and 4. Team member accountability practices to follow that help maintain teamwork at optimum performance levels.
This exercise is completed at an “All Team” meeting at a time and place that is arranged by the team leader. The facilitator – you the overall leader of the organizational entity – begins with explaining what is about to happen, the steps of the process, and that “they, the team”, are going to come up with the team standards that all team members will follow.
You explain that everyone must contribute to this process. You as facilitator insure everyone does contribute, and that all questions are answered in very step before continuing to the next step. When this process is clear to everyone, you, the facilitator begins and will act as the primary note-taker to document the standards of the “Team Norms” as created by the team.
Step 1. What is the Team’s Purpose.
The purpose must be in-line with and support the overall organizational vision and mission. Limit the discussion to about 15-20 minutes, during which every idea is written on newsprint so that no one forgets what is put forth.
The purpose can be a complete sentence, short and concise. It can be a listing of activities or actions that the team displays each work shift. No one comments on other’s suggestions, either good or otherwise. All ideas are written down.
Next, the ideas are narrowed down to what they feel is their overall purpose. Some ideas are discarded, some are combined into a single statement. When finally agreed upon as their “Team Purpose”, and there are no more comments or questions, move on to Step 2.
Step 2. What is Ok?
Team members produce a listing of acceptable behaviors for the team when at work during their shift. A list of about 10 behaviors is determined acceptable by team members. Examples include: 1. Come to work ready to work; 2. No talking about others behind their back; 3. It is ok to help others; or, 4. Treat others with respect and dignity.
When complete, move on to Step 3.
Step 3. What is Not Ok?
Team members produce a listing of unacceptable behaviors for the team. Follow the same procedures as in Step 2. Examples include: 1. Yelling at your teammates; 2. Taking co-workers work products or tools without permission; 3. Skipping steps in your schedule; and, 4. Watching TV when not on a break.
The team will have plenty of “Not Ok” behaviors for the list. It could be a little longer than the list in Step 2. Again, the facilitator must refrain from adding to the list, or attempting to “pencil-whip” others just because you are taking notes.
When complete, move on to Step 4.
Step 4. Team Accountability Actions.
In this process, the team formulates a listing of actions that team members will follow when others on the team exhibit behaviors that are outside the team norms as establish and agreed upon by team members. Examples include: 1. Address others with respect about the concern or behavior; 2. Ask if you can teach them a better way to behave; or, 3. Intervene when necessary to correct behaviors that interfere with team cohesiveness.
Accountability practices empower team members to exhibit leadership within the team. This accomplishes two things: 1. It solves problems at the lowest level in the organization; and, 2. It develops leaders and leadership skills within the organization.
When complete, the facilitator reviews, without changing what the team decided upon, each step. When everyone on the team is in agreement with all steps and their contents, explain what will happen next (Steps 5 & 6 below).
Step 5. Facilitator Documents Steps 1-4.
The Facilitator combines all steps into a formal “Team Building Policies & Practices.” I suggest that each step be on a separate page for clarity. As you document, do not “word-smith” unless grammatically incorrect, which you will explain to the team in Step 6.
You will also want to make a “Signature Cover Sheet” that each team member will sign as their agreement to follow the policies and practices.
Step 6. Follow-up Team Meeting.
Hand out copies of the Team Building Policies & Practices for each team member to review. Hopefully, no corrections will need to be made. When all agree, have them sign the Signature Sheet, explaining that this is their agreement to follow the procedures they have outlined.
As the team’s leader, you monitor with the team leader the affects of the team building on the team’s behavior and performance. I found that team members will not only adhere to the practices, but also they will be empowered to take corrective action within their realm of authority.