I wrote this list, with the assistance of Kim Greene, for the 2009 CPSI Team Building participants. They had made the request for a bit of “real world” content (imagine!).
1. A strong bold initiative and vision inspires teams. It has the right people wanting to be involved.
2. If you are the organizer/leader know that Who is on the team may have more impact then any other choice you make. As they say in golf, all bets are made on the first tee.
3. If you can’t choose who is on your team, clarity of roles and task fit, are very important choices.
4. When a team member leaves or a new member comes on board, don’t forget you have work to do in reforming the team. Really, it’s a whole new team.
5. Don’t forget the fun element “if it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right” (JFK). Try to integrate an element of fun in all the team does.
6. Regardless of who is on your team, overt appreciation of strengths and diversity is a good place to start. Starting with positives is always a good idea.
7. Build trust all the time. Make deposits to the “savings account” you have with each team member. You can, and will need to, “withdraw” from that account in difficult times (thanks Stephen Covey). A key to building trust is rigorous integrity around your word. Do what you say you will do. If you don’t, or have a problem, come clean on it ASAP.
8. Trust is not blind. The more you seek to understand the motives of your team members, the better.
9. All teams go through rough patches. As Dean Kamen says, if you don’t encounter big problems or surprises, you’re not innovating. When it “hits the fan”, be an example in keeping the faith and remaining positive.
10. Vince Lombardi won a lot of championships by focusing on, and repeating endlessly, the most basic plays and fundamentals. Basic fitness and clarity of jobs and roles were the rock he built his teams on. So, when in doubt, return to the basics.
11. Sometimes a person simply shouldn’t be on a team. Be very careful in making this judgment, because sometimes the mavericks are exactly who you need. Still, sometimes people can’t be brought into the fold and focused on the goal at hand. If you are dead sure, cut out the “cancer”. It’s a very tough call, but when you make it you are often thanked for doing it by other team members.
12. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. Celebrate victories, even the small ones, and celebrate learning even in failures or setbacks. Edison was of the philosophy there is no failure; be like Edison.
13. Kick-offs are important. Do them with energy and style.
14. Communicate unselfishly, share your knowledge, and share honestly in a way that the person can hear.
15. A good team is always an active learning team.
16. Be aware of the balance and flow of polarities that exist for your team. Remember that too much team can be just as bad as not enough. Allow for individual self-expression within the team. Teams are not problems to solve, they are a mass of polarities to manage (see Bruce Johnson’s “Polarity Management”)
17. Your team is a strong as its weakest link. A good team makes efforts to cover, improve, or strengthen its deficiencies. Read “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt to understand more about the “theory of constraints.”
18. Effective teams engage in constructive disagreement around content with a “yes, and” not a “yes, but” attitude.
19. Listening is key.
20. Know thyself — what you can contribute to the team and what others can contribute that doesn’t come naturally to you.
21. In teams, seek to “pull in” the outliers, the mavericks, those who we tend to exclude. Everyone has something important to offer the team — find it.