I’ve worked on lots of projects with lots of teams for over 25 years, so have plenty of first-hand experience of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to team dynamics and the knock-on effects on team performance and project success.
There are quite a few models that cover the core conditions for high performing teams. There are similarities across all of them, they all resonate with my own experience in one way or another and all of them would prevent team dysfunction and the problems that causes.
Given that none of the models I looked at covered things exactly as I saw them though, I decided to create my own list.
And just as I did, I'm sure you will see similarities between my list and probably any other team model that exists.
Team performance issues can arise due to a problem in any one of these 5 areas. Team coaching is a really effective way of establishing these 5 essential ingredients, and for ironing out any problems that emerge through the life of the team.
So here are my
5 essential ingredients for high performing teams that feel great to work in - and the questions they answer
1. Good team relationships and a psychologically safe environment
– what’s it like to work here
Effective teams need a trusting and psychologically safe environment to work in. Created by the attitudes of, and the relationships between the team members.
This is the most important ingredient and because it’s so important, I cover it in more detail in my blog dedicated to Team Environment.
2. Common team purpose
– why are we here?
The team needs to be aligned and committed to a common team purpose. What is the team there to do? What does it need to deliver?
Everyone in the team needs to understand and be bought-in to this purpose.
3. Clear roles and responsibilities
– what does everyone do?
To avoid any duplication, overlap, frustration or gaps, there needs to be clarity on team roles and responsibilities and agreement of the process to change them over time, if necessary.
4. Agreed ways of working
– how, when, what if…?
This covers all the processes and the practical stuff that make it clear how and when things are done, how the team works together and how performance is measured.
Processes and procedures
Risk, issue & opportunity management
Agreed standards to work to
Performance measurement, monitoring, reporting and feedback
Decision making and approval processes
5. Clear inter-team dependencies
– how does our team work with others?
All of the above, but for this team in its role as a team member of a wider team.
The first 4 ingredients need to be in place for these wider teams too.
Relationships – who in the team is responsible for relationships with other teams or stakeholders (not always the team leader).
Team purpose – how do all the individual teams come together to contribute to the wider team or organisational goal? How does one team’s delivery impact another’s ability to fulfil its purpose?
Clear roles & responsibilities – what role does each team play in the wider team? What is the scope, the responsibilities and the boundaries for the work of each team?
Agreed ways of working – how do teams work together? What are the procedural hand-offs between teams?
Are these all in place and established for your team?
Or is there something that could do with a bit of attention?
How do you establish these essential ingredients?
The team can work on establishing these ingredients themselves or work with a team coach.
Team coaching can facilitate reflection and discussion among the team, helping them find options, solutions, consensus and agreement and resolve any issues.
The most important times for team coaching are
When a new team is formed (e.g. for a new project). To make sure the 5 essential ingredients are established from the start, with coaching continuing to overcome any teething problems until the ingredients are ‘set’ and the team is working well.
When issues arise, which are mainly due to significant changes in the team members or a need to increase performance significantly due to feedback or changes in the environment
If there’s something wrong in your team, look to the 5 ingredients – what might need some attention?
If you would like to discuss any of these ingredients in more detail, support for establishing them or help with existing team issues, please book a free call.
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