Ain’t Misbehavin’ … your team that is!

Team BuildingWhen changes need to be made in your operations, as a team leader you must become a facilitator. As a facilitator, your primary responsibility is to ensure that the process is working. You must be able to observe the process and judge its effectiveness. You must be aware how teams function so that you can ensure that the process is working. There is a lot going on any time a group is together. Since you can’t see everything that’s going on, it’s important to know what to pay attention to and what not to pay attention to.

There are three distinct dynamics that must be observed and controlled. They are process, content and task related dynamics.

Process Related Dynamics

It is necessary to differentiate this dynamic from other types of behavior. The process activity is the “how” the group or team is doing the work. Process-related comments sound like this: “What do you think about this, John?” or “Let’s set some criteria for deciding before we make the decision.” or “We were only going to spend an hour talking about this and it’s been an hour already.”

One of the first steps to be undertaken is to agree on the Process or the “how” or methods, techniques and procedures the team uses to get thing done. Everyone must observe the rules that were agreed upon and the extent to which they are followed. The team operation should be as frictionless as possible. Of course your role as the facilitator of the group process is to know what maintenance is needed to satisfy the psychological needs of the group.

Task Related Dynamics

The task-related dynamic is the “how” aspect of getting the work done (decisions making, problem solving, brainstorm, and prioritizing). Task related behaviors must be monitored. In other words, the “how” of getting the work of the team accomplished. Some additional behaviors will include setting time frames, summarizing and organizing content and their decision-making problems and processes.

Some of the task related behaviors that you can anticipate is getting things started. For example, when the goals and the required tasks, procedures are being discussed and resolved, ensure that accurate notes and records are kept for future reference. Over the term of the process improvement, it is important to gather information and seek as many varied opinion as possible. Draw out as much information, as many ideas, suggestions, concerns and, team member opinions as possible. Share as much factual and relevant information as possible.

Typically, the required maintenance-related interventions are related to the human needs of the team members. For example: Is everyone being listened to? ; Is everyone participating? Are people being rude? If any dysfunctional behavior exists or arises, you will need to help the team work through that or those issues. The skill sets commonly required are conflict resolution and problem solving.

Content Related Dynamics

Content related activity is the “what” that a group is working on or the subject matter of the business process that is undergoing improvement. Observe how the team makes and implement decisions, process and brainstorm ideas set goals and discussion the element of those goals. As team members share ideas, clarify and explore the facts associated with the project, ask for interpretation of the ideas or suggestions, to clear up confusion and define the terms that will be used throughout the project.

At the conclusion of every meeting, summarize and restate the suggestions as decided by the group and ensure that after the group has discussed them, you have a clear consensus. As necessary, continue to refine the discussion and facts until there is a clear, not merely a tacit consensus, to ensure the best possible conclusion.

Maintenance Interventions
It is important to be encouraging and friendly, warm and responsive to the team to reduce conflict, reduce tension, work out disagreements and find common ground on various issues. Another required process is to ensure inclusion and participation or all team members.

Keep communication channels open, encourage non-contributors and encourage and reward participation. Also be aware of dysfunctional behaviors and address them directly. On occasion, I have used a process checker who will call time-outs so that we can determine and address the needs of team members.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Business Process Improvement, Leadership, Team Building

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