LeanCor Leadership Principle:
Effective Teamwork – Enable teamwork through coaching, clear assignments and goals, and high support for removing roadblocks or conflicts. Hold team members accountable for process improvement and business results.
Ok class, who has heard of the four stages of team building? Ok, just as I thought - pretty much everybody. Now let’s review:
Forming – Individuals come together to solve a common problem, share the work on a project or seek to achieve a common goal. This is the prototypical origin story of a team whether it be formed out of necessity by the individual members or mandated from an organizational leader. Take popular film characters, The Avengers, for instance. This band of superheroes was brought together to defeat the threat of the alien antagonists.
Storming – Team members clash in the turmoil that is created as everyone finds their roles and fit, and the enormity of the task ahead sets in. Typically this precedes the establishment of normal rhythms and leadership and leads to loads of frustration for all involved.
Norming – The norming phase takes place as the organization of the group starts to take shape in the eyes of the team members and each individual starts to see his/her role defined. Side effects include, but are not limited to: improved communication, shared vision, glimpses of progress and optimism.
Performing – Finally, the performing stage is the one that sees the team working in concert to achieve their goals. Not only are the team dynamics at a healthy level, but the team is also experiencing real results through their collaboration. The unit is whole and driven with the momentum needed to complete the task at hand.
Now that we’ve reviewed the progression of traditional team building, how do we apply this knowledge to grow and make our teams better?
Here are some tried-and-true tips for coaching your team and set them up for success:
- In the formation period, unite the group with clear scoping. Use the aforementioned A3S documents or formal problem solving to make the goals and objectives clear at the outset of the project/initiative that is bringing the group together.
- Facilitate the storming stage and make it as productive and healthy as possible. As mentioned in the PEOPLE book, this stage is rich with good dialogue and discussion, and it is where people are developed and allowed to become leaders. As such, leaders should nurture it and translate the friction into learning.
- Watch the group dynamics to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of team members. Not only can this lead to getting team members into roles that fit their skill sets, but it can also lead to good individual PDCA reviews where leaders can challenge these team members to grow in other areas.
- Give your team the proper amount of autonomy. Teams are often most efficient when they are self-managed. We want our teams to have the freedom to work through their problems without being micromanaged as this will encourage growth for natural leaders and create a sense of empowerment for the team.
- Perform periodic reflection with the team in a manner that allows them to drive the conversation. This will teach the team members reflection skills and will allow you as a manager to get a full picture of the progress. Additionally, this can drive best practices for future teams.
As lean leaders fostering a positive and productive team environment, we need to set up our teams for success as much as possible. Let’s understand their hang-ups and try to leverage our leadership in a way that can remove the noise-creating barriers that our team simply shouldn’t have to deal with. We need to allow our teams the proper time and space to work through their projects/problems. As leaders, we are viewed as the controllers of the resources, whether that is true or not.
So, if we have the ability to make certain resource decisions (cross-functional work plans, standard work assistance, stepping in and getting our hands dirty), let’s do so to show our teams that we are serious about wanting them to be successful. Furthermore, we need to ask sincere questions about problems they are facing and use our experience to coach them through it earnestly.
What good is experience if it isn’t shared for collaboration?
Next week, we'll talk some more about teamwork...
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