Leading a Team
| | | Topic Summary This topic contains relevant information on how to * establish a productive team * lead your team effectively * handle problems with your teams as they arise * evaluate your team’s productivity. | | Topic Index Topic Overview What Would You Do? Where Should You Focus? Topic Index Topic Summary About the Mentors Using the Topic Core Concepts Team Building: An Overview Understanding How Teams Work Establishing a Team Becoming an Effective Team Leader Handling Problems Evaluating Performance Steps Steps for Starting a Team
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Steps for Leading an Effective Team Tips Tips for Selecting Team Members Tips for Building Team Performance Practice Instructions Scenario Tools Worksheet for Forming a Team Checklist for Evaluating Whether a Group Is a Team Checklist for Assessing a Team’s Performance Checklist for Assessing Your Team’s Goals Checklist for Evaluating Yourself as a Team Leader Role Clarification Worksheet Test Yourself Instructions Questions To Learn More Harvard Online Article Notes and Articles Books Other Information Sources eLearning Programs | | About the Mentors Donna D. Conlin, M.
Ed. , is Organizational Development and Education Manager at Bose Corporation. She has twenty years of human resources development experience in a variety of business environments from entrepreneurial start-ups to established corporations, all experiencing significant change in their markets and technologies. She has worked extensively in the development of high-performing technology teams and expertise networks and has designed and implemented seminars on team leadership across several large high-tech companies, worldwide. During her ten years of field work, Linda A.
Hill has helped managers create the conditions for effective management in today’s flatter and increasingly diverse organizations. She is a Professor at Harvard Business School, the author of the best-selling Becoming a Manager (Harvard Business School Press), and the content expert for High Performance Management and Coaching, two award-winning interactive development programs from Harvard Business School Publishing. | | What Would You Do? Matthew had worked hard to recruit a talented staff for the Kinzo Account. As incentives, he offered sizeable salaries and strong benefits packages.
He had the office space redecorated and threw an expensive kick-off meeting so everyone could get to know each other. They were now one month into the project. Matthew was frustrated because, despite all his efforts, the group didn’t function like a “team. ” Meetings lacked any kind of collaboration—there wasn’t any of the excitement, camaraderie, or exchange of ideas that he had experienced with other teams. How could he light a spark that would set his team on fire? What would you do? What Could You Do? Fortunately, there are many things Matthew could do to help his team get back on track.
He could lead a team discussion that revisits the purpose and objectives of the group. As a team leader, it’s his job to set direction, establish clear expectations, and provide feedback. He could create a common, short-term goal to bring team members together to achieve it. He could also invite different people from within the organization to come speak to the group and share their perspectives about the team project. If all else fails, he could change the composition of his group so that the team is more collaborative and has a complementary mix of skill sets.
In this topic, you’ll learn how to establish a team, become an effective team leader, handle team problems, and evaluate performance. After you have explored the ideas in this topic, be sure to click “Practice,” where you can participate in an interactive scenario, make decisions, and receive immediate feedback on your choices. | | Where Should You Focus? Where Should You Focus? is an online, interactive exercise that helps you identify areas within the program where you might concentrate. For further information, please visit this exercise online. | |
Using the TopicTopic Structure The content for Leading a Team is divided into the sections listed below. Links to these sections appear across the top of your screen. Topic Overview Click Topic Overview for an introduction to the topic. Review a hypothetical situation, What Would You Do? , followed by a response, What Could You Do? A brief exercise, Where Should You Focus? , helps you identify areas where you might concentrate. The Topic Index provides a “site map” with links to all the elements within the topic. Core Concepts Click Core Concepts for a comprehensive presentation of the main ideas in the topic.
You’ll learn about the benefits of teams and how to lead them successfully. Other topics include understanding how teams work, establishing a team, becoming an effective team leader, handling problems, and evaluating performance. Steps Click Steps for step-by-step advice about how to start and lead a successful team. Tips Click Tips for quick advice about how to select team members and build team performance. Practice Click Practice to participate in an interactive scenario where you assume the role of a manager, make decisions, and receive immediate feedback on your choices.
Tools Click Tools to view and print worksheets that can help you clarify team members’ roles, assess a team’s performance, and evaluate yourself as a team leader. Test Yourself Click Test Yourself to gauge how far you’ve come in learning to establish and lead a team. You will receive immediate feedback on the choices you make. A summary page provides links to reference material. To Learn More Click To Learn More to read an article related to the topic. You will also find an annotated list of articles and other resources.
Topic NavigationTo navigate through the topic, click the links at the top and on the left of your screen. When you click a link at the top of the screen, the links on the left will change. Getting StartedDepending on your needs and available time, you can explore the topic in any order you prefer. Two possible paths through the program follow. If you have limited time, the first option suggests how to focus your learning. The second option presents a comprehensive, linear path through the topic. Focused Path * Click Topic Overview at the top. Click Where Should You Focus? n the left. * Complete the Where Should You Focus? exercise. * Print your results. * Review the recommended Core Concepts. Comprehensive Path * Visit each section in the topic by clicking the links at the top, from left to right. * Review the information within each section by clicking the links on the left, from top to bottom. * In the Practice section, click Next to continue through the scenario. When you reach a decision point, make a choice and read the feedback. Then examine the other choices for additional information. Again, click Next to continue. In the Tools section, click on an icon to open a tool. You can print a copy of the tool to use offline. Or, you can complete the tool online and save it to your hard drive. * Finish by taking the quiz in Test Yourself and reading the Harvard Online Article in To Learn More. | | | Team Building: An Overview What is a team? A team is more than just a group of individuals who work together. A team is a small number of individuals with complementary skills committed to a common purpose, common performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves collectively accountable.
Organizations form different teams for different purposes. Team Type| Purpose| Organizational policy team| Develop philosophy, policy, and direction| Task force| Implement a strategic plan for addressing a problem or an opportunity| Quality circle| Work on specific quality, productivity, and service problems| Self-directed work team| Meet together on an ongoing, daily basis to perform a whole work process| Self-managed team| Assume management responsibilities|
Tasks or situations that lend themselves to the use of a team * require a combination of knowledge, expertise, and perspective that cannot be found in a single individual. * require individuals to be highly interdependent to get their work done and achieve a common goal. * present a challenge. Building a strong performance ethic is critical to encouraging team performance. The benefits of teams When teams work well, the results can be extremely powerful.
They may include the following: * improved performance * a more motivating environment * shared responsibility for assignments * ability to respond more quickly to changes in technology * more effective use of delegation * a shared commitment to goals * greater creativity and effectiveness in tackling problems * ability to assign tasks more flexibly * more effective decisions * improved communication * increased cross-training and development Many of these advantages flow from the synergy of team members’ assembled skills and experiences.
In addition, teams tend to establish new communication processes that allow for ongoing problem-solving. Finally, many people enjoy, and are motivated by, working in teams. As a result, they deliver their best performance in a team setting. | | Understanding How Teams Work What do teams do? While a team’s mission and goals will clearly drive the activities it performs, any team’s work tends to follow a typical pattern.
The team will * agree on an approach to the project * develop a process to complete the tasks * execute the process * evaluate and self-correct the process, depending on the results of measurement and analysis * communicate with all parties involved * cross-train members. The scope of team authority Teams often have sole authority over decisions related to team operations and processes.
In addition, they may make resource decisions within a specified budget limit. Upper management usually gets involved in decisions related to * personnel * expenditures over a given budget amount * changes in key product suppliers or service providers. * bringing in outside resources * changes in organization-wide policy or goals * choices affecting customers such as pricing and specifications * changes in the team’s deliverables and schedule.
Be sure that your team and upper management have a shared perception of what decisions the team can make, which decisions will be made outside the group, and also how those decisions will be communicated in a timely manner. Characteristics of productive teams Within the most productive teams, * the team culture engenders trust, sharing, spontaneity, and risk taking * members participate in setting specific, realistic goals. They agree with the goals and are committed to them. team goals are as important as individual goals * members contribute a diverse, yet appropriate, mix of skills and experiences * members clearly understand their roles and shift responsibilities as needed * the team has clearly identified norms for managing conflict * intra-team competitiveness is managed * all members feel empowered * members are honest, straightforward, supportive, and tolerant of mistakes * members are open to new ideas and perspectives, and are eager to do the right thing * decision making is by consensus, rather than majority vote, when appropriate * decisions are made on the basis of substance, not by the style or status of the individual proposing the idea * communication includes all members, and a range of opinions is encouraged * the team works constantly on improving its interactions as well as its performance. Why a team might fail A failed team may well have completed its deliverables and met its schedule, but nevertheless the organization may fail to make meaningful use of its contributions. Lack of management support and weak leadership are the most frequent drivers of team failure.
Other factors include the following: * a team structure that does not fit into the larger organizational structure * a team focus limited to tasks, ignoring internal relationships * team members who do not take responsibility for themselves * a structure that is mismatched to the number of people involved * lack of a true need because individuals have independent, not interdependent, tasks to fulfill * team members who are uncomfortable with the team development or teamwork processes * inadequate resources to get the job done * inadequate reward systems | | Establishing a TeamSelect members When selecting team members, try to ensure that you recruit individuals who can contribute a complementary mix of skill sets. Look not only for those people who currently possess the skills the team needs, but also for those who have the potential to develop needed skills. While the ideal mix will vary depending on the team’s mission, all teams require a blend of technical/functional expertise that include * problem-solving and decision-making talents * interpersonal skills * team skills.
The optimal size for a team also depends on the team’s goals and tasks. In general, small teams (five to nine members) tend to be most effective when the team’s tasks are complex and require specific skills. Larger teams (up to 25 people) can be quite effective if their tasks are fairly simple and straightforward and team members agree to delegate tasks to subgroups as needed. Including an odd number of people on the team can facilitate decision making, since “majority rules” votes will never end in ties. Identify roles Once you have established the team’s membership, you will need to determine and/or communicate who will fill the following key roles. Team Leader: fosters development of the team * Team Adviser: champions the team within the organization * Facilitator: schedules and conducts team meetings * Process Observers: support the leader and facilitator in promoting team culture * Scribe or Recorder: takes minutes during team meetings. Keep in mind that role assignments need not be permanent. You may decide to rotate roles at certain points, or you may designate some roles to be shared by several members throughout the project. Create the team’s goals and charter Your team needs specific goals and deliverables around which it can focus its efforts. These initial goals need to be realistic and, at the same time, provide team members with a challenge to promote cooperation and collaboration.
While senior management will undoubtedly have provided you with a general purpose, working together to define your goals more precisely can engender a sense of mission and cohesiveness in your team from the outset. Similarly, creating a written charter for your team can help get it into functional readiness more quickly. It can also serve as a focal point that helps keep the team on track throughout the project. A team charter should capture * team mission and goals * leadership roles * identification of other teams, departments, and customers with whom the team will need to work * measures of success * norms to guide team behavior. Establish decision rules Clear rules on how the team’s decisions will be made will allow people to feel comfortable with the decisions and support them.
As team leader, you need to help the team determine * who will make the decisions (team leader, team, individuals in the team) * how you will make the decisions (consensus, majority) * whether decisions are always final or, if not, what kind of modification process there will be. The choices of decision-making method (how) and the decision makers (who) are closely related. Some approaches follow. Majority rules. Team members bring input to the meeting, discuss, and then vote. The decision that receives over 50% of the votes is adopted. Consensus. Every member of the team must agree to adopt a decision. The team develops new alternatives if consensus is not reached. Small group decides.
A group of individuals with relevant experience and skills is selected to make decisions. Leader decides with input. The team leader gathers input from team members, then makes the decision. In selecting a decision-making approach, your team will need to weigh some tradeoffs. The more involved the team members are in the decision-making process, the more likely it is that they will support the outcome. As a result, the consensus and majority rules approaches can help build team commitment. These approaches, however, take time, and the team may or may not have the necessary time built into its schedule. If time is an issue, you might consider using different approaches for different types of decisions.
Use one of the “team decides” approaches to make the decisions that are the most important to team members, and use a more streamlined approach for the rest. Learn to operate as a team To help the team learn to operate as a team, work with the team as a whole rather than dealing with individuals on a one-on-one basis. You want the focus to be on collective team performance versus individual achievement. Empower team members to be active participants in the decision-making process of the team. By doing so, you promote ownership and commitment among team members and encourage initiative and responsibility. Empowerment fosters a working environment based on trust and collaboration. Some individuals may need some training to function effectively in the team setting.
For example, they may need to learn to * speak up in groups * state their own opinions * set limits and be able to say “no” * deliver constructive feedback, both positive and negative * respond to constructive criticism * make requests to authority figures; for example, stating what they need in terms of organizational support * negotiate * take responsibility for their own actions. Most importantly, team members will need to put the team’s interests ahead of their own individual interests. You can encourage them to do so through reward systems that make the benefits of team performance more attractive than the benefits of individual performance. You can also teach members how to negotiate for win-win solutions that benefit both the team and the individual. See also Steps. | |
Becoming an Effective Team Leader The team leader’s role Traditional managers often take on the roles of decision maker, delegator, director, and scheduler of the work of others. Team leaders, on the other hand, are more like coaches. In moving from a traditional management role to that of team leader, you might shift the focus toward facilitating rather than directing. You will want to rely on the expertise of others rather than being seen as the “expert. ” In addition, empower others to solve problems rather than being the problem solver. You may also consider sharing your planning responsibilities with the team rather than creating plans yourself.
There are three important roles that a team leader generally plays on a high-performing work team. * Initiator: beginning actions and processes that promote team development and performance * Model: shaping behavior and performance that reflects the expectations set for the team * Coach: serving as counselor, mentor, and tutor to help team members improve performance The team leader performs other tasks, such as * communicating information, policies, and work orders * guiding members in how to manage processes and evaluate results * facilitating communication between the team and other groups * encouraging process improvements and behavior that support the team culture * mediating conflicts.
Characteristics of an effective team leader An effective team leader must * believe in the basic concept of teams and teamwork * provide direction for the team, either by setting its direction and goals or by ensuring that the team sets goals * set clear expectations and provide feedback, both positive and negative, to support those expectations * maintain a focus on the team’s performance and development through regular meetings and discussions. | | Handling ProblemsWhen teams get “stuck” Teams can get “stuck” mid-project for a variety of reasons. At times, members’ sense of direction may weaken, either because it was ill-defined to begin with or because members have not continued to discuss it among themselves.
There may be insufficient or unequal commitment to the team’s performance, resulting from excessive focus on team dynamics or interpersonal conflict. Critical skill gaps may emerge, or the team may encounter confusion, hostility, or indifference from other groups. Fortunately, there are many actions that a leader can take to help a team get “unstuck. ” * Lead a team discussion that revisits its purpose, approach, and performance goals, using the charter to illustrate. Probe for hidden assumptions and differences in opinion, and work to resolve them. * Establish a common, immediate goal and achieve it. * Bring in new information and different perspectives from within the organization or outside via benchmarks, case histories, interviews, or corporate visits. Change the composition of the team’s membership. Conflict between an individual and the team When individual behavior causes difficulty for a team, there are different approaches for identifying and handling it. In a direct team-discussion approach, every member may comment about every other team member regarding the following: * behavior they like * behavior that causes problems for them * how the person could behave differently * what they count on from the person for the team’s success Each team member then commits to change his or her behavior as a result of the feedback. This approach takes time, group trust, and facilitative skills to work most effectively.
In another approach, a facilitator and a process observer (a team member whose role is to help maintain team relationships) meet privately with the individual who exhibits the problem behavior. They need to * describe the specific problematic behavior * state the impact of the behavior * offer a specific alternative behavior * describe the consequences if the problem behavior continues. With either approach, it is often helpful to set up a “check-back” time to review progress and support the individual’s attempts to change behavior. See also Managing Difficult Interactions: Steps. | | Evaluating PerformancePerformance measures Teams can identify a set of specific performance measures that can be used to chart their progress toward their goals.
While the type of measures used depends largely on the specific work of the team, the following list provides samples of the types of measures often used: * achievement of business goals for which the team is responsible * customer satisfaction * cost of production * quality of product or service * profits * delivery time * downtime in hours * reply time to customers Factors in evaluating performance Traditional performance evaluation is most often oriented toward results or output. The primary difference in evaluating team performance is that, while results are still critical, the way in which the team achieves those results is also important. The collaborative process used to achieve results is an important measure of team performance. Given that, the performance factors listed below are divided into two equally important categories: results and process.
Results factors: * achievement of team goals * customer satisfaction * quantity of work completed * job knowledge and skills acquired Process factors: * support of team process and commitment to the team * level of participation and leadership * oral and written communication within and on behalf of the team * collaboration * conflict resolution * planning and goal setting * participative, win-win decision making * problem solving and application of analytical skills * level of credibility and trust * adherence to agreed-upon processes and procedures * application of project management skills (for example, budgeting and scheduling) * building and sustaining interpersonal relationships * willingness to change and take risks * individual and team learning See also Assessing Performance: Steps. Evaluation methods There are many different approaches available for measuring your team’s success. They vary widely in complexity, cost, and time required. You should consider a more elaborate method for a team whose mission is extensive and will have a significant impact on organizational performance; for teams with narrower missions, simpler methods can still provide a great deal of learning.
The methods include * benchmarking against other similar teams in similar organizations * evaluating the team’s progress against original goals and schedules * observation of the team by an outside consultant * encouraging regular, informal team discussions to assess the team’s functioning * project debriefing sessions to identify what did and did not go well and how this learning can help future projects. Reviewing the performance of individual team members An individual team member actually performs a number of roles, for example, as an individual contributor, as a member of the team, and as a member of the larger organization.
Thus, in reviewing performance, it is helpful to combine at least a couple of the following methods to address performance in each of those roles: * Peer rating. Team members assess each other’s contributions. * Customer satisfaction rating. Internal and external customers rate the performance of the team and of the individual members. * Self-appraisal. Each team member rates his or her own performance. * Team leader review. You, as the team leader or the supervisor, evaluate each individual’s performance. * Management review. Department heads or managers of the team leaders evaluate individual and team performance. Guidelines for team reward systems Teams, like individuals, are motivated by rewards. A carefully designed reward system can be an important driver of your team’s success.
In creating the reward system, be sure to * emphasize the group, not the individuals * offer rewards not only at the end of a project but also at strategic milestones * consider carefully who should give out the rewards * decide what to do about members who leave or join the team mid-project. There are many ways to reward team accomplishments without spending money. Figure out what kinds of rewards will be meaningful to the team as a whole. Be creative. For example, * announce team accomplishments at larger, organizational meetings * ask team members to serve as consultants to other teams * place notes in the personnel files of individual team members * send the team a handwritten personal note in recognition of a task well done * empower the team with greater freedom and authority to make decisions. | | | Steps for Starting a Team 1. Create a strategic focus. 2.
Identify the team’s purpose, its authority, and its duration. 3. Select members carefully. 4. Set early and realistic goals. 5. Define the measures of success. 6. Clarify the roles and responsibilities within and around the team. 7. Create a charter for the team. | | Steps for Starting a Team 1. Create a strategic focus. * The focus for any team must incorporate the vision and values of the larger organization of which the team is a part. * A team must know what the organization as a whole is trying to accomplish and must understand the business goals, strategies, and values as well as the criteria for success that are important to upper management. Based on a clear strategic focus, the team has a solid framework for managing its own performance. | | Steps for Starting a Team 2. Identify the team’s purpose, its authority, and its duration. * Most teams are formed with a specific purpose in mind, whether it be a particular project, process, or service. * Knowing the team’s purpose is critical to helping members work together more effectively. * If appropriate, teams must be empowered to make and implement decisions, and team members must be aware of the extent of their authority. Sometimes teams only give recommendations; they have no official authority nor do they implement decisions. * Finally, teams must have a timeline toward which to direct their activities.
While some teams are limited by time, others may exist on a more open-ended schedule but would still need deliverables executed according to a specific schedule. | | Steps for Starting a Team 3. Select members carefully. * When you are given the opportunity to start a team from the ground up, design your selection process carefully. * Identify individuals with the qualities, experience, and knowledge you need to accomplish the team’s tasks and select its members based on these dimensions. * Consider how membership might provide a development experience for a specific person. See also Delegating: Steps. | | Steps for Starting a Team 4. Set early and realistic goals. As the team is forming, it needs specific goals and deliverables around which it can focus its efforts. * Initial goals need to be realistic and at the same time provide team members with a challenge to promote cooperation and collaboration. * Goals can evolve and change as the team develops confidence and achieves early successes. | | Steps for Starting a Team 5. Define the measures of success. Teams should identify a set of specific performance measures that can be used to chart the team’s progress toward its goals. While the type of measures used depends largely on the specific work of the team, the following list provides some typical examples. achievement of business goals for which the team is responsible * customer satisfaction * cost of production * quality of product or service * profits * delivery time * downtime in hours * reply time to customers | | Steps for Starting a Team 6. Clarify the roles and responsibilities within and around the team. * An essential ingredient to team development is clear identification of team roles and responsibilities. * One way to accomplish this is to develop a matrix that outlines key team responsibilities and then assign all members to specific roles, responsibilities, and priorities. | | Steps for Starting a Team 7. Create a charter for the team. Creating a written charter for your team early on can help get it into functional readiness more quickly.
The issues a team charter should address include * team mission and goals * leadership roles * identification of other teams, departments, and customers with whom the team will need to work * measures of success * norms to guide team behavior. | | Steps for Leading an Effective Team 1. Lead your team with a clearly defined purpose. 2. Empower team members to participate in determining how to achieve the team’s goals. 3. Build consensus within the team. 4. Direct the team’s process to stay focused on agreed-upon goals. | | Steps for Leading an Effective Team 1. Lead your team with a clearly defined purpose. * A team is typically given a clearly defined purpose at its outset. By leading with a purpose, you can set challenging, optimistic, and realistic goals that will motivate your team’s performance. The team’s goals provide an immediate focus while fitting into the company’s larger, strategic goals. * Be sure to publicize the goals, and work with your team to establish milestones to indicate progress toward those goals. * Acknowledge and celebrate achievement of team goals. | | Steps for Leading an Effective Team 2. Empower team members to participate in determining how to achieve the team’s goals. * Give your team the authority it needs to participate in making decisions about how the team’s goals will be achieved. * Use consensus, as opposed to majority vote, to come to team decisions whenever possible. * Encourage team members to solve problems that are within their realm of expertise. Keep an open mind in seeking out the opinions and ideas of team members. * Provide positive reinforcement to team members for their participation. See also Delegating: Core Concepts. | | Steps for Leading an Effective Team 3. Build consensus within the team. * Assume team members will encounter conflict and assist them in working through it. * Encourage sharing of diverse ideas and opinions, and help move the team toward general agreement. * Once agreement has been reached, empower the team to act on its decision. | | Steps for Leading an Effective Team 4. Direct the team’s process to stay focused on agreed-upon goals. * Be clear about expectations and directions. Intervene when necessary to keep the team on track, or support them in how they plan to self-correct. * Maintain a neutral stance during any team conflict. * Recommend alternative processes to help the team move toward its goals. | | | | Tips for Selecting Team Members | Recruit individuals who can contribute a complementary mix of skill sets (project management expertise, financial skills, systems knowledge, etc. ). | | Look for individuals with specific problem-solving and decision-making talents. | | Describe your team’s goals to your manager and your colleagues and ask whom they would recommend. | | Ask potential candidates what team experience they have.
Make sure that you include some individuals who have experience with teams. | | Avoid selecting the individual who is always picked for high-level teams, especially those with a long life-cycle. Look instead for someone who will view this as an opportunity to combine skills and talents with others. | | | Tips for Building Team Performance | Establish an urgent and worthwhile purpose and a clear direction. | | Select team members on the basis of their knowledge, experience, and skills, not on their personalities. | | Be alert to what happens in the first meetings, including actions taken. | | Set clear rules of behavior. | | Establish immediate performance-oriented tasks and goals. | Keep providing new facts and information to create a challenge. | | Use positive feedback, recognition, and rewards. | | | | PracticePractice is an online, scenario-based activity that gives you the opportunity to participate in an interactive scenario where you assume the role of a manager, make decisions, and receive immediate feedback on your choices. For further information, please visit this activity online. | | | Test Yourself | | Which of the following phrases does NOT belong in a description of a team? “A team is a small number of individuals with… ” | | | The phrase that does NOT describe a team is: Similar skills and background.
A team is more than just a group of individuals who work together. A team is a small number of individuals with complementary skills committed to a common purpose, common performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves collectively accountable. Often they do not have the same or similar skills, because a mix of different skills is required to get the job done. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Team Building: An Overview. | | | | | While a team’s mission and goals drive the activities it performs, there are six typical elements that are part of the pattern in a “team process. ” Which group describes these elements? | | |
The general pattern in a team process is 1) agreement on an approach; 2) development of a process to complete all the tasks; 3) executing the process; 4) ongoing evaluation and self-correction of the process during the execution phase; 5) staying in touch with all parties; and, 6) cross-training members to ensure completion. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Understanding How Teams Work. | | | | | | | | Understanding how much authority the team truly has is critical. Which of these aspects generally does NOT reside solely within the scope of team authority? | | | Changes in the team’s schedule or deliverables is the aspect that generally does NOT exist in the scope of team authority. In general, upper management generally does get involved in decisions such as changes in the team’s schedule or deliverables.
Other instances of upper management involvement might include decisions about expenses over a given budget amount, changes in key product suppliers or service providers, whether or not to bring in outside resources, or changes in companywide policy or goals. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Understanding How Teams Work. | | | | | | | | What are the two leading causes or drivers of a failed team? | | | Lack of management support and weak leadership are the most frequent drivers of team failure. All of the choices shown might cause a team to fail, however. All deserve attention. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Understanding How Teams Work. | | | | | | | | When a team’s tasks are complex and require specific skills, what’s the suggested optimal team size? | | | A small team of five to nine members.
Although the optimal size for a team clearly depends on the team’s goals and tasks, in general, small teams (five to nine members) tend to be most effective when the team’s tasks are complex and require specific skills. Larger teams (up to 25 people) can be effective if the tasks are simple and straightforward and team members agree to delegate tasks to subgroups as needed. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Establishing a Team. | | | | | | | | Upper management, having appointed you leader of a new team, encourages you to develop a team charter. What is the purpose and content of a team charter? | | | Creating a written charter for your team is itself a process that can help get your team into functional readiness more quickly.
It serves as a focal point to keep the team on track throughout the project. A team charter should capture the team mission and goals, leadership roles, identification of other teams, departments, and customers with whom you will work, measures of success, and norms to guide team behavior. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Establishing a Team. | | | | | | | | Four frequently used decision-making approaches for making team decisions include 1) majority rule, 2) consensus, 3) small group decision-making, and 4) leader decides with input. Which of these is most likely to help build team commitment? | | | Majority rule and consensus. In selecting a decision-making approach, your team must weigh some tradeoffs.
The more involved the team members are in the decision-making process, the more likely it is that they will support the outcome. As a result, the consensus and majority rules approaches can help build team commitment. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Establishing a Team. | | | | | | | | Which of the choices most accurately completes the sentence: “Being a team leader is like being _____? ” | | | A coach; you help and support team members to encourage their best performance. Team leaders are more like coaches. In moving from a traditional management role to that of team leader, you shift the focus toward facilitating rather than directing and rely on the expertise of others rather than serving as the “expert. As a team leader, you initiate actions and processes, model team behavior, and serve as a counselor, mentor, and tutor for team members. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Becoming an Effective Team Leader. | | | | | | | | Your team is stuck mid-project and it’s up to you to help them get unstuck. Which of these actions is NOT a viable choice to help the team get back on track? | | | Give the team a pep talk and set up an off site meeting where the team, without you, works to resolve what’s stuck. Your role, as a facilitator, is to help the team find and articulate—and resolve—whatever the issue may be. Teams get stuck mid-project for a variety of reasons. At times, members’ sense of direction may weaken; there may be insufficient or unequal ommitment to team performance; critical skill gaps may emerge; the team may encounter confusion, hostility, or indifference from other groups. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Handling Problems. | | | | | | | | Traditional performance evaluation is most often oriented toward results or output. What is a primary difference in evaluating team performance? | | | How the team collaborated is evaluated as well as the result. The primary difference in evaluating team performance is that, while results are still critical, the way in which the team achieves those results is also important. The collaborative process used to achieve results is an important measure of team performance. See also Leading a Team: Core Concepts, Evaluating Performance. | | | | | | | | | | | |
Harvard Business Review, March 2001Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups by Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff The Idea in Brief How does IDEO, the celebrated industrial-design firm, ensure that its teams consistently produce the most innovative products under intense deadline and budget pressures? By focusing on its teams’ emotional intelligence—that powerful combination of self-management skills and ability to relate to others. Many executives realize that EQ (emotional quotient) is as critical as IQ to an individual’s effectiveness. But groups’ emotional intelligence may be even more important, since most work gets done in teams. A group’s EI isn’t simply the sum of its members’.
Instead, it comes from norms that support awareness and regulation of emotions within and outside the team. These norms build trust, group identity, and a sense of group efficacy. Members feel that they work better together than individually. Group EI norms build the foundation for true collaboration and cooperation—helping otherwise skilled teams fulfill their highest potential. The Idea at Work To build a foundation for emotional intelligence, a group must be aware of and constructively regulate the emotions of: * individual team members * the whole group * other key groups with whom it interacts. How? By establishing EI norms—rules for behavior that are introduced by group leaders, training, or the larger organizational culture.
Here are some examples of norms—and what they look like in action—from IDEO: Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups When managers first started hearing about the concept of emotional intelligence in the 1990s, scales fell from their eyes. The basic message, that effectiveness in organizations is at least as much about EQ as IQ, resonated deeply; it was something that people knew in their guts but that had never before been so well articulated. Most important, the idea held the potential for positive change. Instead of being stuck with the hand they’d been dealt, people could take steps to enhance their emotional intelligence and make themselves more effective in their work and personal lives. Indeed, the concept of emotional intelligence had real impact.
The only problem is that so far emotional intelligence has been viewed only as an individual competency, when the reality is that most work in organizations is done by teams. And if managers have one pressing need today, it’s to find ways to make teams work better. It is with real excitement, therefore, that we share these findings from our research: individual emotional intelligence has a group analog, and it is just as critical to groups’ effectiveness. Teams can develop greater emotional intelligence and, in so doing, boost their overall performance. Why Should Teams Build Their Emotional Intelligence? No one would dispute the importance of making teams work more effectively.
But most research about how to do so has focused on identifying the task processes that distinguish the most successful teams—that is, specifying the need for cooperation, participation, commitment to goals, and so forth. The assumption seems to be that, once identified, these processes can simply be imitated by other teams, with similar effect. It’s not true. By analogy, think of it this way: a piano student can be taught to play Minuet in G, but he won’t become a modern-day Bach without knowing music theory and being able to play with heart. Similarly, the real source of a great team’s success lies in the fundamental conditions that allow effective task processes to emerge—and that cause members to engage in them wholeheartedly.
Our research tells us that three conditions are essential to a group’s effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy. When these conditions are absent, going through the motions of cooperating and participating is still possible. But the team will not be as effective as it could be, because members will choose to hold back rather than fully engage. To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms—the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits—that support behaviors for building trust, group identity, and group efficacy. The outcome is complete engagement in tasks. For more on how emotional intelligence influences these conditions, see the sidebar “A Model of Team Effectiveness. “) Three Levels of Emotional Interaction Make no mistake: a team with emotionally intelligent members does not necessarily make for an emotionally intelligent group. A team, like any social group, takes on its own character. So creating an upward, self-reinforcing spiral of trust, group identity, and group efficacy requires more than a few members who exhibit emotionally intelligent behavior. It requires a team atmosphere in which the norms build emotional capacity (the ability to respond constructively in emotionally uncomfortable situations) and influence emotions in constructive ways.
Team emotional intelligence is more complicated than individual emotional intelligence because teams interact at more levels. To understand the differences, let’s first look at the concept of individual emotional intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman. In his definitive book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman explains the chief characteristics of someone with high EI; he or she is aware of emotions and able to regulate them—and this awareness and regulation are directed both inward, to one’s self, and outward, to others. “Personal competence,” in Goleman’s words, comes from being aware of and regulating one’s own emotions. “Social competence” is awareness and regulation of others’ emotions.
A group, however, must attend to yet another level of awareness and regulation. It must be mindful of the emotions of its members, its own group emotions or moods, and the emotions of other groups and individuals outside its boundaries. In this article, we’ll explore how emotional incompetence at any of these levels can cause dysfunction. We’ll also show how establishing specific group norms that create awareness and regulation of emotion at these three levels can lead to better outcomes. First, we’ll focus on the individual level—how emotionally intelligent groups work with their individual members’ emotions. Next, we’ll focus on the group level. And finally, we’ll look at the cross-boundary level.
Working with Individuals’ Emotions Jill Kasper, head of her company’s customer service department, is naturally tapped to join a new cross-functional team focused on enhancing the customer experience: she has extensive experience in and a real passion for customer service. But her teammates find she brings little more than a bad attitude to the table. At an early brainstorming session, Jill sits silent, arms crossed, rolling her eyes. Whenever the team starts to get energized about an idea, she launches into a detailed account of how a similar idea went nowhere in the past. The group is confused: this is the customer service star they’ve been hearing about? Little do they realize she feels insulted by the very formation of the team.
To her, it implies she hasn’t done her job well enough. When a member is not on the same emotional wavelength as the rest, a team needs to be emotionally intelligent vis-a-vis that individual. In part, that simply means being aware of the problem. Having a norm that encourages interpersonal understanding might facilitate an awareness that Jill is acting out of defensiveness. And picking up on this defensiveness is necessary if the team wants to make her understand its desire to amplify her good work, not negate it. Some teams seem to be able to do this naturally. At Hewlett-Packard, for instance, we learned of a team that was attempting to cross-train its members.
The idea was that if each member could pinch-hit on everyone else’s job, the team could deploy efforts to whatever task required the most attention. But one member seemed very uncomfortable with learning new skills and tasks; accustomed to being a top producer in his own job, he hated not knowing how to do a job perfectly. Luckily, his teammates recognized his discomfort, and rather than being annoyed, they redoubled their efforts to support him. This team benefited from a group norm it had established over time emphasizing interpersonal understanding. The norm had grown out of the group’s realization that working to accurately hear and understand one another’s feelings and concerns improved member morale and a willingness to cooperate.
Many teams build high emotional intelligence by taking pains to consider matters from an individual member’s perspective. Think of a situation where a team of four must reach a decision; three favor one direction and the fourth favors another. In the interest of expedience, many teams in this situation would move directly to a majority vote. But a more emotionally intelligent group would pause first to hear out the objection. It would also ask if everyone were completely behind the decision, even if there appeared to be consensus. Such groups would ask, “Are there any perspectives we haven’t heard yet or thought through completely? ” Perspective taking is a team behavior that teamwork experts discuss often—but not in terms of its emotional consequence.
Many teams are trained to use perspective-taking techniques to make decisions or solve problems (a common tool is affinity diagramming). But these techniques may or may not improve a group’s emotional intelligence. The problem is that many of these techniques consciously attempt to remove emotion from the process by collecting and combining perspectives in a mechanical way. A more effective approach to perspective taking is to ensure that team members see one another making the effort to grapple with perspectives; that way, the team has a better chance of creating the kind of trust that leads to greater participation among members. An executive team at the Hay Group, a consulting firm, engages in the kind of deep perspective taking we’re describing.
The team has done role-playing exercises in which members adopt others’ opinions and styles of interaction. It has also used a “storyboarding” technique, in which each member creates a small poster representing his or her ideas. As team members will attest, these methods and others have helped the group build trust and increase participation. Regulating Individuals’ Emotions Interpersonal understanding and perspective taking are two ways that groups can become more aware of their members’ perspectives and feelings. But just as important as awareness is the ability to regulate those emotions—to have a positive impact on how they are expressed and even on how individual team members feel.
We’re not talking about imposing groupthink or some other form of manipulation here—clearly, the goal must be to balance the team’s cohesion with members’ individuality. We’re simply acknowledging that people take their emotional cues from those around them. Something that seems upsetting initially can seem not so bad—or ten times worse—depending on whether one’s colleagues are inclined to smooth feathers or fan flames. The most constructive way of regulating team members’ emotions is by establishing norms in the group for both confrontation and caring. It may seem illogical to suggest that an emotionally intelligent group must engage in confrontation, but it’s not.
Inevitably, a team member will indulge in behavior that crosses the line, and the team must feel comfortable calling the foul. In one manufacturing team we studied, a member told us about the day she selfishly decided to extend her break. Before long, one of her teammates stormed into the break room, saying, “What are you doing in here? Get back out on the floor—your team needs you! ” The woman had overstepped the bounds, and she got called on it. There were no hard feelings, because the woman knew the group valued her contributions. Some teams also find that a little humor helps when pointing out errant behavior. Teasing someone who is habitually late for meetings, for instance, can make that person aware of how important timeliness is to the group.
Done right, confrontation can be seen in a positive light; it’s a way for the group to say, “We want you in—we need your contribution. ” And it’s especially important when a team must work together on a long-term assignment. Without confrontation, disruptive behavior can fester and erode a sense of trust in a team. Establishing norms that reinforce caring behavior is often not very difficult and usually a matter of concentrating on little things. When an individual is upset, for example, it may make all the difference to have group members acknowledge that person’s feelings. We saw this in a meeting where one team member arrived angry because the time and place of the meeting was very inconvenient for him.
When another member announced the sacrifice the man had made to be there, and thanked him, the man’s attitude turned around 180 degrees. In general, a caring orientation includes displaying positive regard, appreciation, and respect for group members through behaviors such as support, validation, and compassion. Interpersonal understanding, perspective taking, confrontation, caring—these norms build trust and a sense of group identity among members. And all of them can be established in teams where they don’t arise naturally. You may ask, But is it really worth all the effort? Does it make sense to spend managerial time fostering new norms to accommodate a few prickly personalities? Of course it does.
Teams are at the very foundation of an organization, and they won’t work effectively without mutual trust and a common commitment to goals. Working with Group Emotions Chris couldn’t believe it, but he was requesting a reassignment. The team he was on was doing good work, staying on budget, and hitting all its deadlines—though not always elegantly. Its leader, Stan Evans, just got a promotion. So why was being on the team such a downer? At the last major status meeting, they should have been serving champagne—so much had been achieved. Instead, everyone was thoroughly dispirited over a setback they hadn’t foreseen, which turned out later to be no big deal. It seemed no matter what happened, the group griped.
The team even saw Stan’s promotion in a negative light: “Oh, so I guess management wants to keep a closer eye on us” and “I hear Stan’s new boss doesn’t back this project. ” Chris had a friend on another team who was happy to put in a good word for him. The work was inherently less interesting—but hey, at least they were having fun. Some teams suffer because they aren’t aware of emotions at the group level. Chris’s team, for instance, isn’t aware of all it has achieved, and it doesn’t acknowledge that it has fallen into a malaise. In our study of effective teams, we’ve found that having norms for group self-awareness—of emotional states, strengths and weaknesses, modes of interaction, and task processes—is a critical part of group emotional intelligence that facilitates group efficacy.
Teams gain it both through self-evaluation and by soliciting feedback from others. Self-evaluation can take the form of a formal event or a constant activity. At Sherwin Williams, a group of managers was starting a new initiative that would require higher levels of teamwork. Group members hired a consultant, but before the consultant arrived, they met to assess their strengths and weaknesses as a team. They found that merely articulating the issues was an important step toward building their capabilities. A far less formal method of raising group emotional awareness is through the kind of activity we saw at the Veterans Health Administration’s Center for Leadership and Development.
Managers there have developed a norm in which they are encouraged to speak up when they feel the group is not being productive. For example, if there’s a post-lunch lull and people on the team are low on energy, some-one might say, “Don’t we look like a bunch of sad sacks? ” With attention called to it, the group makes an effort to refocus. Emotionally competent teams don’t wear blinders; they have the emotional capacity to face potentially difficult information and actively seek opinions on their task processes, progress, and performance from the outside. For some teams, feedback may come directly from customers. Others look to colleagues within the company, to suppliers, or to professional peers.
A group of designers we studied routinely posts its work in progress on walls throughout the building, with invitations to comment and critique. Similarly, many advertising agencies see annual industry competitions as a valuable source of feedback on their creative teams’ work. Regulating Group Emotions Many teams make conscious efforts to build team spirit. Team-building outings, whether purely social or Outward Bound-style physical challenges, are popular methods for building this sense of collective enthusiasm. What’s going on here is that teams and their leaders recognize they can improve a team’s overall attitude—that is, they are regulating group-level emotion.
And while the focus of a team-building exercise is often not directly related to a group’s actual work, the benefits are highly relevant: teams come away with higher emotional capacity and thus a greater ability to respond to emotional challenges. The most effective teams we have studied go far beyond the occasional “ropes and rocks” off-site. They have established norms that strengthen their ability to respond effectively to the kind of emotional challenges a group confronts on a daily basis. The norms they favor accomplish three main things: they create resources for working with emotions, foster an affirmative environment, and encourage proactive problem solving. Teams need resources that all members can draw on to deal with group emotions.
One important resource is a common vocabulary. To use an example, a group member at the Veterans Health Administration picked up on another member’s bad mood and told him that he was just “cranky” today. The “cranky” term stuck and became the group’s gentle way of letting someone know that their negativity was having a bad effect on the group. Other resources may include helpful ways to vent frustrations. One executive team leader we interviewed described his team’s practice of making time for a “wailing wall”—a few minutes of whining and moaning about some setback. Releasing and acknowledging those negative emotions, the leader says, allows the group to refocus its ttention on the parts of the situation it can control and channel its energy in a positive direction. But sometimes, venting takes more than words. We’ve seen more than one intense workplace outfitted with toys—like soft projectile shooters—that have been used in games of cube warfare. Perhaps the most obvious way to build emotional capacity through regulating team-level emotion is simply to create an affirmative environment. Everyone values a team that, when faced with a challenge, responds with a can-do attitude. Again, it’s a question of having the right group norms—in this case, favoring optimism, and positive images and interpretations over negative ones.
This doesn’t always come naturally to a team, as one executive we interviewed at the Hay Group knows. When external conditions create a cycle of negativity among group members, he takes it upon himself to change the atmosphere of the group. He consciously resists the temptation to join the complaining and blaming and instead tries to reverse the cycle with a positive, constructive note. One of the most powerful norms we have seen for building a group’s ability to respond to emotionally challenging situations is an emphasis on proactive problem solving. We saw a lot of this going on in a manufacturing team we observed at AMP Corporation. Much of what this team needed to hit its targets was out of its strict control.
But rather than sit back and point fingers, the team worked hard to get what it needed from others, and in some cases, took matters into its own hands. In one instance, an alignment problem in a key machine was creating faulty products. The team studied the problem and approached the engineering group with its own suggested design for a part that might correct the problem. The device worked, and the number of defective products decreased significantly. This kind of problem solving is valuable for many reasons. It obviously serves the company by removing one more obstacle to profitability. But, to the point of our work, it also shows a team in control of its own emotions. It refused to feel powerless and was eager to take charge. Working with Emotions Outside the Group Jim sighed.
The “Bugs” team was at it again. Didn’t they see that while they were high-fiving one another over their impressive productivity, the rest of the organization was paying for it? This time, in their self-managed wisdom, they’d decided to make a three months’ supply of one component. No changeover meant no machine downtime and a record low cost per unit. But now the group downstream was swamped with inventory it didn’t need and worried about shortages of something else. Jim braced himself for his visit to the floor. The Bugs didn’t take criticism well; they seemed to think they were flawless and that everyone else was just trying to take them down a notch.
And what was with that name, anyway? Some kind of inside joke, Jim guessed. Too bad nobody else got it. The last kind of emotional intelligence any high-performing team should have relates to cross-boundary relationships. Just as individuals should be mindful of their own emotions and others’, groups should look both inward and outward emotionally. In the case of the Bugs, the team is acting like a clique—creating close emotional ties within but ignoring the feelings, needs, and concerns of important individuals and teams in the broader organization. Some teams have developed norms that are particularly helpful in making them aware of the broader organizational context.
One practice is to have various team members act as liaisons to important constituencies. Many teams are already made up of members drawn from different parts of an organization, so a cross-boundary perspective comes naturally. Others need to work a little harder. One team we studied realized it would be important to understand the perspective of its labor union. Consequently, a team member from HR went to some lengths to discover the right channels for having a union member appointed to the group. A cross-boundary perspective is especially important in situations where a team’s work will have significant impact on others in the organization—for example, where a team is asked to design an intranet to serve everyone’s needs.
We’ve seen many situations in which a team is so enamored of its solution that it is caught completely by surprise when others in the company don’t share its enthusiasm. Some of the most emotionally intelligent teams we have seen are so attuned to their broader organizational context that it affects how they frame and communicate their own needs and accomplishments. A team at the chemical-processing company KoSa, for example, felt it needed a new piece of manufacturing equipment, but senior management wasn’t so sure the purchase was a priority. Aware that the decision makers were still on the fence, the team decided to emphasize the employee safety benefits of the new machine—just one aspect of its desirability to them, but an issue o