During the past few months I have facilitated several team development training sessions. Teamwork is a favorite topic of mine and one I have a lot of passion for. World class teams, in my opinion, are something that can be achieved as long as the right ingredients are present and consistently used. Lately, I have recognized an interesting pattern in these team development sessions – one or more individuals will approach me during a break with the same question. Their question goes something like this, “I am on this team that just doesn’t quite reach its potential. What can I do about it?”
The benefit of this question is that at least one member of the team recognizes some flaws and is looking for guidance on how to influence and change the team for the better. Of course from my standpoint, I need more information to give appropriate suggestions as to what to do. But, after digging a little deeper and getting more information, the same problems seem to be occurring within the majority of teams. The common themes typically are:
1. The team isn’t very focused.
2. Team meetings are not effective.
3. Certain members are working harder than others on the team, causing frustration and negatively impacting cohesion and unity.
Within these themes, the element that is commonly missing, which causes these symptoms to surface, is processes. I have found that when teams have frustration, it can often be traced to lack of processes, or processes not being used, or processes that are outdated, or even processes not being followed correctly. Regardless of the problem, teams need to take a serious look at their processes.
One of the reasons process improvements continues to be a vital aspect of an organization is because of frequent changes in the marketplace. Paradigms change and the goals of the organization and the team change regularly. Because of change, processes must be in place to ensure stability and constancy.
Teams with process issues need to be prepared to question them. Some of my recommended questions would be:
1. What processes do we need to create and follow to have efficient meetings that produce the results we are all seeking?
2. What processes do we need to eliminate or modify that are hindering our success currently and will continue to affect us in the future if we don’t so something about it now?
3. Does the whole team understand our processes and are we committed to following them from now on?
Processes are the playbook by which teams operate. When team members don’t understand the playbook, the rules, and the tools that are in place to create success, teams do not reach their potential. If your team is not quite reaching its full potential take a hard look at your processes and see how well your team is following and using your playbook.