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  1. #1

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    How does an effective team develop - what in your experience makes an effective team?

    Since I have many friends across the world and in many different walks of life – I wonder how you might develop effective high performance teams in your organizations and aspects of our life:

    When a team/organization/household’s new leader appears to be ineffective is it a result of? a) Status Quo has expectations of the leader but does not specifically outline those expectations Or b) The leaders who takes the approach that No one can do it as good as I can so I will do it all or c) something else.

    How does one move effective teams to do the necessary/right thing for completing any action collaboratively?

    Discuss - I want some ideas on how to take a team that is struggling to an outstanding effective group. Thank you!

    ETA: I know that there a billion books out there, some of which I have read, I would like real life experiences

  2. #2

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    My best team has a "to hell with the higher ups, let's do awesome work" kind of attitude. More importantly, there's no team leader in the traditional sense of the word. Each person leads what they're best at. I do the organizational stuff, one of the client's leads brainstorming, and one of the up and coming tech guys leads discussions of technical alternatives. Those of us with formal authority will step in when necessary, but for the most part, the team leads itself.

    As for management styles, if you want to totally squash innovation and accountability, tell the team that they have control, then tell them that you want it done your way. Works every time. Or blame them for a bad outcome from a well reasoned decision. That'll kill morale in a heartbeat.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  3. #3

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    It's all about chemistry, imo. If everyone gets along and has similar goals and temperaments, I think they'll get stuff done regardless of management. (though it's harder if management is sucky)

    The current team of teachers I work with doesn't work well together because one is completely incompetent and another has one foot out the door, so doing anything collaborative is out of the question. I can work with the others, but it's frustrating that the rest of us always do all the work.

  4. #4

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    Yeah, that is similar to my problem with a group of teams I am working with. One team hasn't shared the secret handshake (aka procedures) to someone they expect to do all the work, even tho by definition it is the committee's work. Some of the other teams are blaming another team for their problems. And the root of the problem was someone who ran each team as a dictatorship (aka did everything for everyone, so that all teams were dysfunctional at the time of his departure.)

    I am trying to figure out a way to stop the secrets and the blaming so that the teams can work together.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by numbers123 View Post
    Yeah, that is similar to my problem with a group of teams I am working with. One team hasn't shared the secret handshake (aka procedures) to someone they expect to do all the work, even tho by definition it is the committee's work. Some of the other teams are blaming another team for their problems. And the root of the problem was someone who ran each team as a dictatorship (aka did everything for everyone, so that all teams were dysfunctional at the time of his departure.)

    I am trying to figure out a way to stop the secrets and the blaming so that the teams can work together.
    Can you go Agile on them and ignore the current structure entirely by replacing it with a list of things that need to be done? If each of the things is less than 1 day's work for 1 person, so much the better. Let them grab tasks and form their own teams. It's funny, but if person A formally commits to a small unit of work that requires person B's input, it gets done. I guess people feel uncomfortable admitting that they got blocked on a small task. If its a big task, they can hide behind being too busy or by not getting necessary cooperation.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  6. #6
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    I work in a very small group, so if one person is being a little bitch, the whole group feels it. I guess we lucked out in that everybody just concentrates on getting their work done, and nobody's competing for accolades. Well, obviously people want first author papers, and that involves physically doing the work so nobody slacks. Well, aside from me since I'm leaving this field anyway! But I'm the only one in the lab who knows how to do EVERYTHING, so I provide experiment support so everyone's project gets done faster. I like my boss and my coworkers and I don't want to let them down. I think that's the essence of it.

    The boss gives the same attention to everybody, and he's always been super-open so we can ask him anything if we want. He's also very fair when it comes to giving credit. There's no competition within the lab, only competition to get the entire group ahead. That's why we've been able to get at least one paper out a year, even though we're essentially only 4 potential first authors. And me. It's a tiny, tiny group, and nobody works 80-hr weeks.

    My boss's boss has given him pressure about how to run his lab (mainly us having flexible schedules), and he's actually pushed back and been very adamant that he'll do the running, thank you very much! I feel very lucky.

  7. #7
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    I just was part of a team that was really great to work with (it was put together for a particular project). When I think about why it was great, a couple of things come to mind:

    - The leader was not authoritarian at all. Although the outcome of the project will have a significant effect on their work, there could have been a lot of pressure for the outcome to be something that would be favourable for them. But instead the group was run in a very cooperative manner, and every time there was a discussion, the leader was careful to go around the room and make sure that everyone had an opportunity to speak.

    - The members of the group all came from different areas and had different kinds of expertise, but everyone was very respectful of all the opinions. There were points in the process where there were major disagreements, but everyone got to say their piece and no one got mad at anyone else or dissed on what they were saying. We just accepted that not everyone saw the situation the same way, and those who were in the minority (which some times included me) felt that they had been listened to, and so were willing to let the majority's choice go ahead.

    - I realize that not all groups have this luxury, but we had a third party - an external consultant - who was just fantastic. He kept the process clear, and at times he warned us of the consequences of particular choices, and helped us make better decisions. But we never felt that he was trying to tell us what we "had" to do. He also had some work on the project in his role, and it was always done on time and was very thorough, which really helped our work get done too.

    To focus in on what you are asking about, I think the leader really sets the tone for the group. If the leader has an agenda that isn't the same as the group's, or runs the group in an un-consultative matter - and I mean not just the group's functions in general, but including how people are treated and even spoken to in individual interactions or in meetings - the group is never going to be effective. I realize that sometimes the group is not going to work at all unless the leader takes charge, and that could mean pushing the group in a different direction, but I do think there are ways to do that without being heavy-handed or dictatorial.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    My experience (mostly with non-profits, but some at work also) is that you build a team with the right skillset, focus on goals, track progress regularly, and most important- communicate, communicate, communicate. A lot of breakdowns occur due to the lack of communication, and by getting off track. This is particularly important when there are conflicts. They need to be resolved ASAP.

  9. #9

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    1st, be sure to always set clear expectations of what's expected in terms of performance and commitment. Never unilaterally set standards or expectations--let each team member contribute what they feel is right and draw from it the master plan. Doing this in a group setting is most effective.

    2nd, Set SMART goals--specific, measurable, attainable, re-visible, timely. Let your team know what they're working for and make sure they understand the power of their contribution. The overall organization goals must be somehow tied in with their personal goals.

    3rd, build a relationship with your team members. Find out what THEY enjoy and spend time with them. I can't tell you the number of team members I've trained who would have absolutely quit had they not had an awesome relationship with me. It doesn't have to be anything formal--even something simple like grabbing a beer, going to the gym, etc. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

    4th, be aware of situational leadership. There is an abundance of literature on this topic--and for good reason as it can take years to "master" it. I can recommend One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard.

    5th, spend 80% of your time with your top 20%. All too often the focus is put on the "flimsy" ones but really the attention should be spent on the studs--the one with the most ambition, follow through, coachability, mentality, etc. If you can develop these people and replicate yourself then think of how much less of a burden it puts on you. Suddenly, you can delegate half your responsibilities.

    6th, the strength of your team members should be judged on their MENTALITY. Not habits (these are learned). And certainly not natural talent. A "can-do" attitude, unflappable positivity, & eagerness for learning and experience---these are the mental traits I look for and I spend most of my time with these people.

    There's plenty more but I better go back to work.
    Last edited by Dr.Siouxs; 05-20-2013 at 10:50 PM.

  10. #10
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    Leader:
    Clearly define the project
    Clearly define the roles of team members
    Select people with the right skill sets
    Set expectations and deadlines for each team member
    Create open door atmosphere
    Follow up before the deadlines to make sure team is on track
    Meet your own deadlines
    Schedule meetings and answer team questions in a timely manner
    Listen, then ask questions
    Respect the expertise of the team members and the input you receive
    Be accountable for product
    Say thank you

    Team Members:
    Listen, then ask questions to make sure you understand the project and your role
    Perform task to best of your ability
    Ask questions along the way
    Meet deadlines
    Seek input from leader/other team members as necessary
    Be accountable for your work product
    Respect your fellow team members' expertise and listen to their input
    Respect any critique you receive from leader or other team members
    Say thank you
    I think I will have a snack and take a nap before I eat and go to sleep.

  11. #11
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    From my experience, everyone's input being valued and contributions recognized are important for team effectiveness. Also a leader that is open but firm whenever people start questioning or rehashing things that have already been decided. Each team member having specific goals is also important to avoid situations where some people are doing too little work and others doing too much.

  12. #12
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    I think a team that is fun to work for and a team that gets things done are not always the same. So I am trying to find a balance.

    When I build my team, I try to focus on two things - trust and clarity.

    Having clarity means my team members know what our goal is (why this team exists in the organization), what is expected of each of them, how to achieve higher ratings, and to me it means I know not only what my team is doing but also what motivates each of them to get it done.

    Having trust meants I can trust my team members to pull their weight and do their best, and my team members can trust me to be fair and understanding, reward them when they go above and beyond and, very importantly, they can rest assured that unless they do something ethically wrong, they can always count on me to stand behind them (or in front of them if they need protection) in the organization.
    Last edited by genegri; 05-21-2013 at 03:09 AM.

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