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Transcript of Work Teams
Teams can be brought together on a short- or long-term basis depending on the reason for their information, and they vary in size depending on the type and location of the organisation. Although most teams function best when they consist of around ten members, multinational teams can comprise 100 or more members, allowing an organisation to tap into a wide body of knowledge and expertise required for its large-scale projects. When forming teams for specific projects, consideration must be given to the availability of physical and human resources to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved.
Some common types of organisational teams are outlined below:
Short term teams:
Task force team - investigates a specific issue that needs immediate attention
Design team - develops a new product, service or system; these teams can sometimes be long-term, depending on the design brief
Solutions team - solves a particular issue within an organisation
Long term teams:
Project or cross-functional team - undertakes long-term projects when different department teams are responsible for different sections of the project, e.g. the engineering, marketing and finance departments
Self-directed team - undertakes short- or long-term projects to produce a particular service or product; these teams are fully responsible for results
Work group or process team - works together each day under some form or supervision to the betterment of the organisation, e.g. worplace health and safety (WHS) committee, customer satisfaction
Whether a team is formed for a short-or long-term project, simply putting a group of people together will not ensure the desired outcomes are achieved. A significant amount of time and effort needs to be invested into building trusting, collaborative relationships when the team is first formed.
Teams can operate as a group of individuals or as a united team. Which road they take and how successful they are, depends on management attitudes, support, training and the initial direction provided.
Think & Explore
In pairs, brainstorm a list of the different types of teams in which you have been members. Select one team situation that was a positive experience for each of you, and take turns describing it (for example, explain how many team members it had, the reason it was formed, how the team performed, how obstacles were overcome, why it was such a positive experience to be a member of that team).
Analyse your own contribution to the team.
Provide a definition for the work 'team'.
People who operate as a group rather than a united team exhibit behaviours that impact significantly on achieving successful outcomes as they see:
Don’t have a mutual purpose
Share very little and expect others to do the communicating
Work independently of each other
Focus on themselves and think of themselves as employees only
Wait to be told what to do
Distrust the motives of other colleagues
Expect supervisors to deal with conflict
Conform and tend not to make decisions
Work in an unstructured environment where leaders fail to lead
Show little commitment to excellence
High-performing teams operate in dynamic environments where members are aware of the expectations and behaviours required to achieve the desired goal. They are creative, work cooperatively and interact with enthusiasm and commitment. To assist teams in achieving peak performance, there are eight fundamental questions that should be addressed continuously throughout the life of the project.
LINKING HIGH ENERGY TEAMS SKILLS
Refer to the chart on your worksheet
When creating virtual teams, management needs to consider the added dimension of achieving a balance between members who know each other and those who do not. If there are too many who know each other, they can develop subgroups, which can lead to increased conflict within the whole team. Alternatively, if there is no connection between any team members, it can lead to individualism and failure of a project. The same process applies to cross-functional teams, where the need for clear communication becomes even more essential.
Despite the best intentions, teams sometimes fail due to a variety of reasons, such as:
lack of adequate resources
lack of support from top management
one-way communication from top down
failure to involve the team in setting goals and processes
members unwilling to act as a cohesive unit
STAGES OF TEAM DEVELOPMENT
Once a team is formed, it can expect to experience the following developmental stages throughout the life of the project: forming, storming, norming, performing and mourning.
This is the familiarization stage, where each member of the team gets to know the other members. Respect and trust are built, and the team's goals, standards and targets are set. At the end of this stage, all members should feel commited and conscious of the team's common goal. They will be increasingly aware of their own and others' commitment levels and inevitable interpersonal tensions.
During this stage team members are now comfortable with each other and the hard work begins. Goals and deadlines are set and tasks divided. At this time, the strengths of team members surface and should be acknowledged. Feedback is necessary to eliminate misunderstandings, with any 'sore points' being addressed and dealt with honestly. The storming stage can be the most difficult stage because conflict may arise as team members confront the differences in temperaments and attitudes of other members.
The effectiveness of the team leader is strongly tested during this stage. Conflict-resolution techniques must be managed constructively to allow the team to continue as an effective unit. This is a time when 'egos should be left at the door' and mistakes acknowledged without allowing emotions to override the situation. At times it may be necessary to bring in an outside facilitator to help resolve difficulties that the team is unable to resolve as a group.
During the stage, everyone should be feeling more secure and confident. All members are clearly aware of and accept their responsibilities and obligations. There should be a feeling of 'we' not 'I', and there is an atmosphere of harmony within the group and a desire to fulfill its commitments. Characteristics of this stage are trust, cohesion and cooperation.
During this stage, team cohesion and interpersonal effectiveness are high. Any signs of disharmony are discussed openly with honest communication. Team members performances are valued and respected, and members are more adept at accepting criticism, solving problems and handling conflict.
This stage is most relevant to teams that are formed for a specific project and which disband following the completion of that project. A wind-down or debriefing session involving an assessment of the entire process should be undertaken. This could include suggested improvements for future projects, personal achievements obtained from being part of the team and, finally, a party or official conclusion to finalise the project.
Once members have been selected to form a team, they should be involved in the planning of the group's objectives. By doing this, members will immediately develop a sense of ownership of the project. They will appreciate that they have been selected for their own specific talents and knowledge, and will understand the interdependence of their roles based on these talents.
The most crucial aspect in the beginning is that members are fully aware of their responsibilities within the team and understand the boundaries associated with them. There should be no overlap between responsibilities and all members should have a global picture of how their responsibilities and all members should have a global picture of how their responsibilities link together.
Furthermore, members should feel that they are to do a significant portion of their work independently. Without this clarity, members are likely to waste time and energy negotiating roles or protecting their own responsibilities, rather than focusing on the outcome.
As well as specific talents, there are generic characteristics that team members must possess if they are able to be effective participants for the life of the project. Valuable team members:
are committed and enthusiastic to achieve team objectives
are tolerant and respectful of individual differences
positively encourage other members
remain open to the suggestions of others
trust and support others in the team
listen without interrupting and try to interrupt others' points of view
seek feedback on their own performance
provide constructive feedback to other team members
contribute ideas and solutions
acknowledge conflict and are prepared to seek a win-win outcome
accept their own problems without blaming others
communicate openly, honestly and assertively
ask questions to obtain clarification
do not attempt to make themselves 'look good' at the expense of others
maintain a sense of humour
put the team's objectives ahead of their own
There are some behaviours that are unproductive and clearly detrimental to the effective functioning of the team. These should be dealt with whenever they arise. They include:
taking credit for another member's work
arriving unprepared to meetings
arriving late for meetings
missing some meetings
failing to complete tasks on time or not an acceptable standard
being a passenger and not contributing to the team
failing to answer emails or mesages in a reasonable time
using disrespectful language (both verbal and non-verbal)
displaying discourteous behaviour (such as side conversations).
There are some behaviours that are unproductive and clearly detrimental to the effective functioning of the team. These should be dealt with whenever they arise.
taking credit for another member's work
arriving unprepared to meetings
arriving late for meetings
missing some meetings
failing to complete tasks on time or to an acceptable standard
being a passenger and not contributing to the team
failing to answer emails or messages in a reasonable time
using disrespectful language (both verbal and non-verbal)
displaying discourteous behaviour (such as side conversations)
Roles are predetermined behaviours that are expected of members who have joined together for a specific purpose. When selecting a team, a blend of characteristics should be considered, as the effectiveness of a team will depend on the complementary nature of the roles adopted by its members.
There are four main groupings of team members' roles: task, functional, maintenance and dysfunctional.
One of the most important roles in a team is the task role. It is important that members fully understand that tasks that have been allocated to them. Members should understand how the tasks converge towards the common objective. These tasks should be well differentiated with clearly defined boundaries, as conflict is inevitably experienced when members encroach on others' responsibilities and decision-making.
Functional roles assist the team to achieve its goals. Team members may take on one or more of these roles as needed. Some functional roles are outlined below.
Clarifier - Tries to make points clear and looks forward to see how an idea might work if it is implemented
Coordinator - Draws toegther the various activities of the team
Progress monitor - Montiors the team's progress suggestions after a discussion, providing a synopsis of the ideas and summarising any related suggestions
Troubleshooter - Asks questions like 'What if...?'
Maintenance roles help in developing cohesiveness and unity. They ensure that the group is working well together, and work to maintain the team's strengths. Some maintenance roles are outlined below.
Consensus tester - Checks for agreement among the team
Encourager - Gives genuine praise and support to other team members, helping to give them confidence in their ideas
Facilitator - Makes sure every member of the team has a chance to be heard
Mediator - Helps resolve differences if they arise, working as a moderator and negotiator
Standards setter - Reminds members of the standards that were set to ensure that they are met
Sometimes there may be members who display characteristics that are detrimental to the functioning of the team. In these cases, the behaviour should be dealt with immediately by the group or leader. Some dysfunctional roles are outlined below.
Credit taker - Takes credit for work done by other members
Dominator - Tries to control most of the discussions
Back stabber - Talks about other members in a negative way
Joker - Clowns around or jokes continually, disrupting the group
Cynic - Is continually sarcastic or cynical and never agrees with others' suggestions
Competitor - Attempts to impress others with what they have done
Apart from task roles, which are relevant to all team members, many of the above roles may be taken by the leader of a team if one is appointed. However, if a team operates without a designated leader, an understanding of these roles by all team members becomes extremely important to the smooth functioning of the team.
Team leaders are selected by management to act as a guide and encourage for the team, provide direction and develop an environment where members can operate in an atmosphere of mutual trust and support. In the initial stages, the leader needs to be task-focused by assisting members in their understanding of the requirements of the project. This includes outlining the team charter, clarifying responsibilities and engaging in discussion on commitment and accountability obligations.
As the team progresses and members become a more cohesive unit with increased levels of trust, the role of the team leader tends to become more relationship focused, where the leader adopts a supervisory role, ensuring that everyone feels part of the team. When virtual teams are involved, an added responsibility for the leader is managing cultural diversities and cultivating long-distance cooperation.
The leader will also be responsible for monitoring the progress of the project against the set plan, and reporting back to management. Other areas to be monitored include:
the cohesiveness of the unit
the quality and volume of work being completed
costs and expenditures compared to original budget
When the project is completed, the leader will be required to prepare a final report to management, which provides an overview of the project, the final financials compared to original forecasts, recommendations for future projects of a similar type, and special acknowledgment to team members. The leader also hands the project over to the manager responsible for the project.
Effective leaders demonstrate a sense of security in themselves and their abilities, an awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, and possess the knowledge and skills required to encourage the team to become an energetic and dynamic unit.
A leader's knowledge of team members assist sin identifying external or internal issues that are affecting a particular member's performance.
Other skills required by a team leader include:
arranging training required for the project team members
motivating and inspiring team members to perform
setting clear expectations of members' performances and reviews
seeking feedback on their own performance as leader
encouraging members to resolve their own conflict when it arises
working collaboratively with members to improve their performance
giving credit where it is due
addressing members' behaviours that affect the team
working with members who need assistance
leading by example
interpreting team dynamics, body language and linguistics
communicating with senior management and acting as a gatekeeper for the team
understanding the importance of fun
eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy
giving full attention to members when they are speaking
making it easy for members to disagree or be candid
If no leader is appointed, all team members need to demonstrate these skills. In these cases, the members will take on different roles to ensure the ongoing success of the team.
Leadership style is the manner and approach used by leaders to manage the morale, productivity and cohesiveness of a team. A leader's style will be based on a combination of their beliefs, vales and preferences.
Respected leaders lead by example; they conduct self-evaluations and demonstrate a willingness to learn from experienced others. There are many different styles of leadership and effective leaders will incorporate a variety of styles into their leadership, using a style that best suits the situation to be dealt with at the time. Some common types of leadership styles include:
Bureaucratic: leaders lead 'by the book', ensuring that their staff follow set procedures exactly. This style is appropriate when dealing in areas of great risk, for example, chemical plants and cash handling.
Autocratic: leaders have complete power. They are demanding, dictatorial, often make negative statements and take credit for results. They engender feelings of low morale among staff.
Democratic: leaders, while they still male the final decision, will invite input from others who will be affected by the decision. While it takes more time, it also creates a feeling of cooperation and participation within the organisation, provided that the feedback is incorporated into the final outcome.
Laissez-faire: leaders allow people to get on with their work. There are varying degrees of this style, from failing to lead all, to empowering teams to work independently, while at the same time monitoring their progress.
Charismatic: leaders are very high-powered and energy driven, and inject great enthusiasm into their teams. There is a belief that these leaders believe more in themselves than in others. Associated with these leaders is the risk that unless they commit long-term, the project may fail.
One of the first processes required of a team is to develop an action plan that analyse what is required to achieve the team's objective. One process that can be used to formulate and govern their actions is the PDCA cycle - plan, do, check, act.
Gather information, assess resources, define problems, map out a method for action, identify risks
Implement the above plan, monitor results and keep records as necessary
Examine the data, talk to others and gather more information to measure the effects of the plan and actions
Based on the data, results and other information, modify the action and adjust the plan
Clear expectations at this stage provide the team with a common ground to begin further planning and discussions. These expectations include the ground rules governing the sharing of responsibilities, an agreement to depersonalise also being given to the budget, time frames and resources available.
Once the plan is formulated, tasks have to be apportioned to different members of the team. When apportioning tasks, it is the responsibility of the leader, if one exists, to ensure that workloads are evenly distributed and that tasks are achievable within the set time frame. Members must always recognise the skills of others so that the tasks are appointed appropriately to individual expertise, skills and role characteristics. Everyone should feel that their talents are being recognised and utlised. At this stage, members take responsibility for making sure they fully understand the tasks required for them and the process to achieve those tasks, so that time and energy is not wasted trying to sort out difficulties later on.
Task (what needs to be achieved)
Team member requires input from relevant departments
Report needs to be completed by 25 November
Process (how the task will be achieved)
Sends out a questionnaire via email to relevant department managers
Seek clarification on report layout
Undertake research by 30 October
Collate research by 7 November
Prepare draft by 14 November
Team review 20 November
Complete by 21 November
When this procedure is completed, all team members know what needs to be done, by whom and when. It is then up to members to break down their allocated tasks into achievable outcomes and prepare a timeline for completion by the due date.
On occasion, it may be necessary for the team to clarify issues and renegotiate timelines. However, renegotiation should occur only as the result of some unexpected delay because any doubts at being able to meet original deadlines should have been expressed when timeframes were first discussed. Nevertheless, unforeseen delays can and do occur, and they need to be carefully managed to avoid blowouts of timing and budget allocations.
Communication is the major key to success of any team. One of the first points that should be clearly understood by all involved in a team, including leaders and managers, is that nothing replaces face-to-face communication or talking over the telephone. The importance of communication and team communication processes should be discussed and agreed to, so that all members are aware of guidelines and expectations from the outset. These processes include:
Team meetings occur regularly in business, and they are essential in maintaining the focus of a team. Without clear purpose and a quantifiable outcome, meetings can be regarded as a waste of time, especially as many issues can be dealt with by using the range of meeting technologies that are available to share resources and ideas. The main purpose of team meetings are to:
review the progress of the team and its members
provide a forum for decision-making
discuss the best approaches for dealing with problems that have arisen
maintain energy levels
reinforce commitment to the team objectives
handle timing and budget blowouts
exchange information that is best done face-to-face
undertake a team performance review
Once the purpose of a meeting is identified, planning and organisation involves deciding who needs to attend, and selecting a suitable time and date to meet. When deciding who should attend a meeting, it is necessary to identify the key people required. In cases where where not all members are required to be present, those not attending should be notified that a meeting will be taking place between specific sectors and the outcome sent to all team members. Selecting a suitable date and time can involve quite a lot of juggling, as it is often difficult to get all members together at a specific time. Therefore, the meeting should be planned well in advance. There are a variety of meeting management software applications that can assist in this process.
Prior to the meeting, it is essential to complete the following administrative tasks so that everything runs smoothly and time is not wasted on the day:
notify all participants of the meeting and circulate an agenda
book a venue that can accommodate the required number of participants if the meeting is face-to-face, and make arrangements for videoconferencing if there are virtual participants
load any files required for remote meetings
organise the required equipment
organise water and refreshments if the meeting is lengthy
organise a translator if necessary (this is often required for virtual teams)
if necessary , organise travel and accommodation for any members traveling to the meeting from interstate
On the day of the meeting, use a checklist.
During the meeting it is the leader or chairperson's responsibility to make sure that the meeting achieves its objectives. To do this, the leader should:
have all members turn off mobile phones
ensure that the meeting runs smoothly by enforcing correct meeting procedures
keep discussion focused
ensure that no single person dominates discussions
adhere to times set by the agenda
reassign any tasks not covered
summarise tasks to be completed for the next meeting
Starting with an icebreaker, which could be as simple as expressing expectations of the meeting, assists in getting everyone involved. If it is the team's first meeting, whether face-to-face or virtual, members need to get to know each other and understand why they have been selected for the project. Measures that the leader can adopt to assist in this process are:
have members introduce themselves, provide a brief summary of their background and the skills they bring to the team
outline and encourage discussion on the team charter
collaborate with members to:
formulate strategies and guidelines to achieve their charter
develop an action plan outlining responsibilities and timelines assigned
develop the review process for both individual and team performance
At the end of the meeting, members shoudl paraphrase their tasks to show that they completely understand what is required of them for the next meeting. This process should be adopted at the end of each meeting held.
During meetings, the team leader must be conscious of the level of participation of all members, with everyone being given a chance to contribute. This is especially important when remote meetings are being conducted. To assist in this process, there are different methods of 'turn-taking' that can be adopted.
Anyone is permitted to talk at anys tage, with interruptions being accepted. This method is usually controlled by the loudest members, with quieter members being unable to voice their opinions. The problem with this method is that the opinions expressed by the most vocal may or may not be the most appropriate, and therefore the team is not gaining the benefit of all members' experiences.
Members are provided with the opportunity to express their opinion without fear of interruption. This gives members who are usually overshadowed by the more vocal members of the team a chance to contribute to the discussion. This method is a very effective style, as it involves full participation.
PAUSING BETWEEN TURNS
This is based on haphazard turns, but no interruptions are permitted and a short pause time is required after each member speaks. Although this method takes some time to get used to, it provides time for reflection on comments made and gives members the opportunity to present their points of view confidently and without fear of interruption.
REFORMULATING THE PREVIOUS TURN
Each member paraphrases what the previous member has said before giving their opinion. This method ensures that members listen very carefully and that their interpretation of what has been said is in line with what the speaker meant.
LEADER SUMMARISES DISCUSSION
leaders stop discussion at certain times throughout the meeting and present their interpretation of the discussion so far. This method prevents the discussion going off track and is very effective when an overall picture of the situation is required.
Documentation is an extremely important part of any team meeting, and is legal record of what has taken place. The main documentation for meetings are an agenda and minutes, both of which should closely reflect each other.
Most businesses use meeting software to organise participants for the meeting. Once everyone is available, all participants should be asked to identify any items they would like to discuss at the meeting so that the item can be included on the agenda. When these items are received, a combined notice of meeting and agenda is prepared, specifying:
the time, date and place of the meeting
points to be discussed at the meeting
who will be discussing the points
approximately how long each person will speak for
The agenda should be sent out to all participants at least one week prior to the meeting, so that those attending can prepare any necessary materials required for the meeting. Apologies from those members unable to attend the meeting should also be submitted at this time. Any documentation that is required for the meeting should be shown as an appendix on the agenda. All that must be included is:
Meeting date, time, location, attendees, apologies
Items of discussion and responsibility
Minutes are a formal account of the events of a meeting, and should be recorded in a clear, concise language without ambiguity. They record:
the time, date and place of the meeting
the attendees and any apologies
the date of the next meeting
outcomes from discussions
tasks assigned to specific members
the closing time of the meeting
The order of information recorded in the minutes should reflect the order of the agenda. Each member should receive a copy of the minutes of the meeting, irrespective of whether or not they attended. If any discrepancies are noted by members who were not present, amendments to the minutes are made at the next meeting.
Not all meetings require formalised minutes but a record of proceedings in point form, along with any tasks and the people responsible for actioning those tasks must still be recorded.
Because minutes are a legal record of what transpires at a meeting, they require great concentration on behalf of the minute-taker. Therefore, the person taking the minutes should not be a participant in the meeting and should sit close as possible to the person chairing the meeting. The minute-taker should not record minutes verbatim but should document what has been discussed and agreed in a concise and self-contained manner.
To record meetings accurately and effectively, the following guidelines should be followed:
have the meeting template, which reflects the agenda, ready for use
use tape as a backup if necessary, although this needs to be explained to participants so that they do not feel threatened by being recorded
ensure the essential elements are recorded ahead of time, for example, date, time, venue, type of meeting, attendees, apologies and agenda items listing the person responsible for each
circulate a piece of paper for signatures if attendees have not been prerecorded
leave plenty of white space for each agenda item and allow room for general items if manually recording minutes
make not of when meeting starts and finishes
concentrate on what has been decided in relation to each agenda item and record the person responsible for the outcome
consider categorising issues under subheading
use bullet points to record the main points in lengthy discussions-if unsure, ask the chairperson for clarification
separate specific issues and general policy
record every action and the person responsible
record times of people arriving late or leaving early
attach reports or supplementary material to the minutes as appendices
During some meetings there may be a need to formalise a specific issue. This is some by a participant putting forward a motion, which is a formal suggestion. This motion is then seconded by another attendee, discussed and passed, or not passed, by a vote. The name of the person who originated the motion, the seconder, as well as whether the motion was adopted or rejected should be recorded in the minutes.
Following a meeting, the minutes should be typed up as soon as possible, while the information is still fresh, and distributed to all participants as well as to absentees. All minutes, whether formal or informal, should be kept as legal documents. As the number of sets of minutes accumulate, it is sometimes difficult to remember at what meetings particular items were discussed. For ease of location of any items, an index of topics can be maintained, listing each topic and the date of discussion. This provides a continuous profile of topics discussed.
Well considered decisions are essential for team success. If a poor decision is made, the team may risk failure, resulting in serious repercussions, especially for the leader. Decisions should be set in stone, as there may be times when additional information becomes available ad the initial decision needs to be evaluated.
Decision-making can be quite difficult because any decision can involve conflict or dissatisfaction. developing the skills and practicing good decision-making techniques is integral to a successful outcome for all involved in the decision.
Identify exactly what the problem is
Gather all of the necessary data relating to the problem
Identify the boundaries within which the decision can be made
Use an appropriate decision-making tool to develop options and evaluate each possible solution
Decide which option will produce the optimal result
Put the decision into action
Evaluate the outcome of the decision
When possible solutions have been identified, there are different methods that can be used to decide on the best solution for the problem. These methods are:
Consensus (we decide together)
requires an atmosphere of trust so that all members are able to voice opinions
All members accept and willingly support the decision
Effective means of moving past stalemate
Best used when the decision has a major impact on the team's direction or the organisation as a whole
Democratic (one vote per person)
Everyone has a vote, but the majority rules
Someone always loses, which may result in anger and frustration
Best used when a quick decision is required and the impact is not crucial
Consultative (I decide with your input)
One person still makes the decisions
Ideas are sought
Can result in members feeling, respected for their input
People must understand that input may not equate with the decision made
Best used when the decision lies in another area but will have some impact on the team
Autocratic (I decide)
Not likely to be used in teams
Allows for a fast decision, as there is no input from others
Little consideration is given to impact on human resources
Best used when there are time constraints and the decision will have little impact
When consensus decision-making is used, members are more likely to feel ownership of the decision, and are therefore often more committed to implementing that decision without feelings or frustration or resentment. When decisions are being made, teams must be careful not to get into 'group-think' mode, where the desire for group consensus override's the members desire to present an alternative solution.
Decision-making tools assist in organising information into logical sequences or benefit categories. A few examples are brainstorming, PMI analysis (plus, minus, implications), force-field analysis and cost-benefit analysis.
Brainstorming is a process that allows all team members to put forward ideas relating to a specific topic. It is effective problem-solving tool, as numerous ideas can be generated in a non-judgemental way and various perspectives can be obtained on any one idea.
Choosing the right facilitator is essential to the success of any brainstorming session. It is the facilitator's role to relax all participants, create an atmosphere for open thinking, be adept at keeping ideas flowing and manage dominant personalities.
Selecting a productive time of the day is also important. However, this can be quite difficult, as people differ in their preferences and reasons for choosing a particular time.
When planning a brainstorming session, the problem should be clearly defined, and can be given to each participant a few days prior to the session, so that thoughts and ideas can be completed.
The brainstorming process should follow these steps:
define the objective
set an appropriate and specific time limit for the putting forward of ideas
ban criticism and interruption of any suggestions
support thinking 'outside the box'
refine the data gathered by categorising, combining and eliminating
prioritise the refined list, for example, give members a number of coloured dots to attach next to their preferred options
apply key evaluative criteria:
Is it legal?
Is it practicable (implementation and cost)?
Will it be acceptable to most staff?
How urgent is it?
agree on the next course of action
circulate follow-up notes to participants
The development of a clear and positive outcome from this process will show participants that their efforts and contributions have been worthwhile, resulting in their being motivated to undertake the process in the future and assist in the implementation of the outcome.
A PMI analysis (plus, minus, implications) is a valuable decision-maing tool when a team needs to decide whether to change an existing practice or procedure. For example, a business that is considering reducing its number of product lines may completed a PMI analysis.
+ Plus (Positives) - Renewed focus on core products
- Minus (Negatives) - Customer dissatisfaction at the discontinuation of favourite products
? Implications (outcomes of taking the action) - Possible loss of sales
- Greater economic efficiencies gained by reducing the diversity of product lines
A force-field analysis assists in looking at all of the pros and cons of the decision. There are three steps involved in this process.
1. Place a rectangle in the centre of a sheet of paper and write the proposed change in it
2. On the left-hand side, list the pros for the change, and on the right-hand side list all of the cons against the change
3. Assign a score to each argument, from 5 (strong) to 1 (weak).
4. Total the number next to each point in the list of pros and the list of cons-the side with the highest number represents the preferred outcome
A cost-benefit analysis is used to determine how well, or how poorly, a planned action will turn out. Although a cost-benefit analysis can be used for almost anything, it is commonly employed on a financial questions. In a cost-benefit analysis, the total financial costs of the change are compared with the time it takes for the benefits of the change to repay its costs.
For example, if an organisation is considering purchasing its videoconferencing system, costs to be examined would be the purchase price plus installation. They would need to consider the number of times the videoconferencing system would be used over a year. These details would be compared with the cost of using a service provider. A decision could then be made on the financial viability of purchasing the system or using a provider.
Periodically, a team will undertake reviews to see how well it is functioning and what might be hindering its effectiveness. The processes for these reviews should be developed when the team is first established, and the performance criteria of support and a way to improve the future performance of the team. They should include both self- and peer-performance reviews. Because teams operate in an atmosphere of trust, each team member should feel comfortable in exploring in expressing openly and honestly their views on the team's progress.
For a review each team member, including the leader, should bring a copy of his or her own performance and, if it is part of the process, feedback from other members. These reports should address the performance criteria agreed upon at and provides a balanced picture of an individual's performance, as it comes from a variety of sources.
At the review, these reports are presented and discussed. During this time, members should listen actively without interrupting, making excuses or becoming defensive. This process should be regarded by all as learning and improvement opportunity that will enhance both individual and team performance in the future.
Feedback allows team members to increase self-awareness and improve personal performance. There are two types of feedback positive and helpful feedback is part of every team member's role, it is the leader's responsibility to provide constructive feedback if someone is not performing to the set standards. If there is no leader, it becomes a joint team function to address any under performance. However, this does not mean that individual members cannot discuss issues with each other and suggest alternate ideas at different times.
When situations arise that require feedback, they should be dealt with as soon as possible, rather than being left until the final team review. This process ensures that members are aware of their performance throughout the project and should not be surprised by any comments at the final reviews. If concern is expressed by a member at the final review, the team as a whole needs to examine its overall performance relating to team support.
Quality feedback training should be provided to all team members at the commencement of a project. When offering feedback, both team leaders and members should focus on specific behaviours or actions, rather than on the person, and feedback should be well thought our prior to being offered. The following communication techniques will assist in this process:
Use 'I' statements rather than 'you' statements - 'I' statements show ownership of the perception and when constructive feedback is offered, the statement should always be followed by invitation for the other person's input.
It seemed to me that the process used for .... did not work as planned. Is that how you saw it?
Why didn't you do ...
Refer to specific facts rather than making general statements
I heard you explaining the consequences of undertaking path B to Blake in a way that made it really clear to him.
You explain things well.
Use helpful rather than hurtful statements
My view is that if you had included... in your presentation, it may have been more effective. What do you think?
Your presentation had nowhere near enough detail.
When feedback is required, the conditions must be right for a successful outcome. These conditions include:
finding a quiet place away from any distractions
providing the facts using constrictive statements
checking for understanding by both parties
using appropriate body language and voice
openness on behalf of the leader to receive feedback
At the end of the discussion, a clearly defined plan of action outlining ways to improve performance should be developed. This plan should state the date and steps required to achieve the desired goal. The member receiving the feedback must be instrumental in suggesting the timeline and solution to the plan. This method assist in clarifying that the feedback has been fully understood and the team member is aware of what is expected in future.
Conflict management should be part of the team's initial training. An awareness of conflict indicators, such as body language, dismissive responses, lack of responses to ideas and aggressive communication, will assist team members in addressing possible conflict situations before they escalate.
If conflict cannot be resolved, negotiation skills, which can provide a win-win situation for both parties, need to be implemented. In negotiation process, the members in conflict should:
each make an opening statement about their perception of the issue
'hear' and 'understand' what the other is saying, even though they do not agree
explore areas of agreement for both members
decide on options for mutual agreement
To assist in this process, the following principles are useful:
think about the final desired outcome of the team
try to start managing the conflict with positives rather than negatives
concentrate on the problem, not on the other person with whom the conflict is occurring
Sometimes it may be necessary for those members in conflict to 'agree to disagree' and be reminded that the success of the team project is the priority. In protracted circumstances, an impartial facilitator should be employed to act as mediator and help resolve differences.
Complete the Activity on Page 186.
Questions 1 - 3