When I started in the workforce 25 years ago, organizations were experiencing a tremendous shift in how their people worked. This was driven mostly by information technology. The hierarchical, top-down, command and control, siloed organizational models were outdated, lumbering and hard to change. Cross-functional, agile, high performing teams where people could use and share information to solve complex problems became ubiquitous. While some saw this as a fad, it soon became the de facto way businesses organized their people to achieve their most important and strategic initiatives.
However, during the last quarter century, many organizations continue to struggle with how to create effective and efficient team environments. Several years ago, my colleague Richard Spoon, introduced a simple model called the Team Arch™ to help teams drive toward high performance. It contains the wisdom of proven best practices and pragmatic executive experience and is helping our clients focus their energies to solve their most vexing business challenges.
1. Clear Direction. This is the keystone of the arch. Every member of the team has to understand the group’s core objectives and goals.
2. Common Measures. A scorecard is required to keep critical performance measures visible and to transfer ownership of the results from the leader to individual team members who need to be accountable for their parts. Common measures keep team members informed about progress and help leaders to rally the team when performance is not good enough.
3. Efficient Practices. The work of teams often includes meeting, planning, communicating, implementing, resolving conflict, measuring and handing-off. Through well-documented and clearly-communicated best practices, team members should be taught the “Team’s way” for effectively performing each type of work activity.
4. Defined Roles. Team leaders must clearly define team member roles and expectations and ensure they have people with the right competencies to fill them.
5. Sharp Insights. Effective teams make recommendations and decisions based on information and facts. However data is not enough. Turning data into insights requires experience, perspective, genuine curiosity and a willingness to dig.
6. Relevant Rewards. A well-layered approach to rewarding individuals and the team as a whole will provide motivation to achieve team goals. Rewards are not just monetary. They must include recognition, increased responsibility and learning. On the flip side, people who are not contributing must be removed quickly, fairly and deliberately.
7. Consistent Communication. Open communication builds trust – the heart and soul of effective teams. Creating a climate of transparent information and feedback, respectful dissent and blameless benefit of the doubt is essential for high performance.
8. Solid Culture. At the base of Team Arch, Solid Culture is the foundation on which great teams are built. It consists of the shared values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of the group. It’s driven from the team leader and must be carefully managed in relation to the culture of the larger organization.
9. Team Leader. The team leader must manage the first eight team characteristics and support their team members every stage of the effort.
More information about Team Arch can be found in the book Team Renaissance: the art, science and politics of great teams. To assess the effectiveness of your teams, visit www.teamrenaissance.net.