Leadership: Relationships – Facilitating Team Success

Facilitating team success goes beyond individual relationships and involves:

  • resolving conflicts fairly;
  • creating an atmosphere of team cooperation vs. competition;
  • building consensus on decisions when appropriate;
  • leading your team to form goals that support the organizational mission;
  • recruiting capable people to the team;
  • using diversity of talent and experience to maximum team advantage

Properly developed teams are more productive than a collection of individuals working separately. The foundation of team development is Trust, developed between the manager and the team members, one person at a time. In other words, strong individual relationships are necessary for developing a high-performance team. To summarize e-booklet #10, Building Personal Relationships, the manager must demonstrate empathy, objectivity, wisdom and poise. In addition, managers need to keep their promises, be honest, and encourage cooperation and collaboration between staff.

Even if trust is not high for every members of a work unit before a team is developed, the manager can win their trust by teaching the group how to function as a team. The four steps to developing a team are (1.) Forming; (2.) Storming; (3.) Norming; and (4.) Performing.

  • Forming: Teams need to be reminded from the beginning that their purpose is always tied to the DHS Mission. In the forming stage the successful manager explains clearly why the team is being developed, the expectation that members will learn to work together, that team members will be evaluated on teamwork as well as individual work. In addition the successful manager promises the necessary direction and support to help the individuals to become a team. Trust begins to form in this stage, but trust needs to continue growing in the next stages.
  • Storming: A new team will want to know what they’re going to be doing, standards of performance, how work will be done, how individuals will be evaluated differently for teams. Conflict should erupt in this stage because individuals are being moved out of their familiar and comfortable way of working. They want to know concretely how things will be. Facilitate discussions that encourage their questions, and take the time necessary to answer their questions. In this stage the team leader and team members learn to resolve conflicts comfortably. As a result trust is strengthened and members can express differences of opinion without fear but with confidence the conflict will be resolved fairly.
  • Norming: Stated simply, the team leader and team members hammer out norms: how the work will be done, establish roles for each of the team members, adopt standards for timeliness, quality, and accuracy. In the norming stage the team also agrees on reporting and other forms of accountability and the times and frequency for team meetings. At this stage teams learn to make decisions as a team, and they commit to work according to specific shared standards.
  • Performing: When a team begins its shakedown cruise, successful managers will recognize the team’s needs and respond to them. Typically teams need to revisit the earlier three stages of team development. Some team members will be fast studies in their acceptance of the team concept while others will take longer and require direction and support. The successful team leader will be open to revisiting Forming, Storming, and Norming in order to bring the team together.

For additional growth facilitating team success:

  • Read Leading Work Teams, by Fran Rees, Jossey-Bass Publishers;
  • Read The Five Dysfunctions of Teams, by Patrick Lencioni, Jossey-Bass Publishers
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