If you’ve had a chance to read Part I of this blog, then you probably have a clearer understanding of your team vision and structure, your team members, and their roles both collectively and individually.
Now it’s time to dig a little deeper and get into the specifics of how your team works together by considering the questions below. If you have yet to build a team, consider your ideal and how to move forward from there in the building process. If you are working with an existing team, look at these questions based on your current situation and the experiences you’ve had with your team thus far.
QUESTION: Are you clear on the characteristics of team relationships that most contribute to your team’s success?
Understanding how and why your team gets along is an important factor in maintaining your success as a business. Do your team members benefit from: Investing time in building relationships with one another, supporting one another in accomplishing goals, trusting and respecting one another, seeing value in their differences from one another, or finding fairness in the distribution of work and compensation? It may be none of these things, but a successful team will be able to discover how they click and why. Likewise, you should know what characteristics of your team relationships most limit your success.
This will clarify: How to capitalize on the aspects of your team that make it cohesive and limit those that do not. It can also increase your ability to resolve conflicts and inform hiring strategy moving forward.
QUESTION: Are you clear on the characteristics of team relationships that you believe most limit your team’s success?
In any relationship or partnership structure there will be positive elements of working together as well as negative ones. There may be team members who experience friction with one another, don’t trust one another, or who look out for what benefits them individually rather than what benefits the team overall. There is always the risk of team members feeling they are being compensated unfairly, or being denied the opportunity to do their job to their fullest capacity. All of these things can be mitigated; it is the leader’s job to take these factors into consideration throughout the hiring and training process, and in how he or she decides to lead the team.
This will clarify: Pinpointing what doesn’t work, or what causes problems, will help you understand how to manage and mitigate these factors that may be negatively affecting your team.
QUESTION: How does your team manage conflict should it arise?
As stated above, conflict is natural and often unavoidable in group situations. Pay close attention to how your team seeks to resolve these conflicts, and how you would see them handled in an ideal situation. If your team members solve things quickly and easily, you may choose to let them manage conflict on their own. If resolving conflicts takes some time, you may want to look into creating processes around disagreements amongst your team members. As much as possible, try to avoid these problems by clarifying your policy on managing conflict up front. Involving your team in the decision-making around this, as well as other policies that affect the team overall, will help create buy-in and mitigate disagreement amongst your team members.
This will clarify: How your team manages and gets past conflict. This is key in times of disagreement, market fluctuation, or in managing difficult client cases or situations.
QUESTION: How often and effective are your team meetings?
Team meetings should be regularly scheduled to discuss substantive business of the team, versus shorter meetings which are intended to focus on a smaller objective or task. Make sure you are clear on how often you have team meetings, who you want involved, and what constitutes a successful outcome. Track how often you have “productive outcomes” and in what areas. Notice where you fall off-course, get distracted from the task at hand, or take more time than you need to accomplish a given objective. Set clear post-meeting action items and follow up on their completion in the following meeting.
This will clarify: Attention to this area will ensure that agendas for team meetings are clear and set out in advance so that team members engage in discussion of issues and outcomes in a timely fashion, with clear goals and outcomes.
Whether you’ve built a team, are in the process of building one, or looking to build one in the future, answering these questions will give you clarity around how your team members should interact, collaborate, and accomplish goals as a team.