In a constant changing business world, effective, collaborative teams are becoming more and more important.
In my work with teams, I am using elements of the work of Patrick Lencioni, Simon Sinek, and Marshall Goldsmith. Team development is often based on a two-day workshop and can be extended with a period of team coaching. The following outline provides an example of a team development activity for high-performance teams.
Before any team development activity, I will conduct a series of interviews one-on-one with the team members where they can openly and confidentially share their ideas and challenges with their current working environment.
We will begin by asking all members of the team to confidentially record their individual answers to two questions: (1) “On a 1 to 10 scale (with 10 being ideal), how well are we doing in terms of working together as a team?” and (2) “On a 1 to 10 scale, how well do we need to be doing in terms of working together as a team?” Based on this input we will calculate the results, and we will discuss the difference. In general, this is a wake-up call for a team, and it will help them realize the importance of team development.
Next, we will do an exercise to get to know a little more about the person behind the team member. Patrick Lencioni calls this the personal histories exercise.* In this exercise, every team member will share a story about where and how they grew up. They will share a bit about their family situation, how many siblings they had and where they rank. Also, they will share a fact that made a big impact on them while growing up. This exercise sets the tone for the two days. Suddenly everybody realizes that they all had their struggles while growing up. Especially with a team that is based on multiple nationalities, this exercise can work eye opening.
Depending on the input of the pre-workshop interviews we will use some time to discuss the things that need to be discussed. In an open and non-judgemental conversation, we will name the elephant in the room and clear the air before moving forward in developing the team.
To build a common identity for the team you need to know why the team exists. This is a deeper thought than just saying something like “to sell our services” because that is about the “what”. In this exercise, we will work this question, based on Simon Sinek’s “Start with why“*.
Next, we’ll dive into the “how” of the team: what are the values of the team that defines how do we work together as a team and as subteams?
Finally, we will start with a team coaching exercise that the team can take home to help improve the team members from where they are to where they want to be.
Now it is time to start working together to get there!
Based on Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching methodology we will select one common behavior that all team members should improve upon to reach the desired goal. Then the team members will start a round of interviewing each other and answer the simple, but not easy, question “what behavior can I improve upon to help our team reach the desired goal?” In rounds of 5 minutes, they will answer each other’s points and get a list of behaviors for improvement. Essential in this round is that it is a non-judgmental round. No one is allowed to respond “yeah, but” or make any other comments about the input. They should simply say “thank you” to their colleague for providing constructive suggestions. In the end, every team member will select one behavior from the list that he/she will work on to improve themselves in the light of the overall team results. And they will announce the selected behaviors to the other team members.
Every next month they will provide feedforward to each other for the mentioned behaviors. Feedforward is feedback in a different format: it is looking to your behavior of the past month in the light of the desired changes and suggesting actions based on that behavior that you could do to improve in the coming period. Based on this input every team member will create their own action plan for the coming period.
As a team, you can continue with this exercise during the next months i.e. as part of your regular team meetings to continue and improve upon the team development. You can also make it part of a year-long team coaching process. In that process, I will guide you on the continued improvement, and we will measure progress. In months 5, 8 and 11 we will conduct a short survey to gauge the progress of every individual and of the team collectively. In the mean time as a coach I will be available on a monthly basis to guide the process and to provide team- and one-on-one coaching where desired.
The fun part of team development
A typical team development activity also contains fun parts. Also, this is essential for team bonding and can for example consist of a cooking workshop or some outside activities.