for Solid Team Development
I have been writing about teamwork for quite some time. I am often
amazed at the questions I get about how to structure a team and how
the team actually develops. The biggest challenge goes back to
something that my father told me when I was in the third grade. He
used to always tell me; “You can’t put the roof on the house until
the foundation is complete.”
Now as a young boy and my Dad being in real estate I just thought he
was talking about building a house. Well quite frankly I thought to
myself… DUH. Actually he was talking about everything but real
estate. I don’t know when I came to understand what he was teaching
me, though I am sure I was well into my 20’s if not older. In life
we have to have a foundation just as in construction.
Teamwork is no different yet I am floored by the number of people
who fail to meet the first six of these tips. After all they are the
foundation. Go back over your life and see if any of your previous
teams helped in defining these 10 tips.
1. Purpose: Every team must have a purpose for its existence.
Purpose can also be referred to as the vision of the team. If a team
has no vision how can you expect the players to hit the target?
Simple answer you can’t! Purpose as to why the team exists includes
the complete understanding of what role the team plays towards over
all goals and vision of the organization.
2. Mission: We have heard so much about the word mission.
Many people confuse vision and mission. Vision is about where the
team is going and the mission is what they are about. The senior
most part of an organization its mission. Why don’t most lower level
teams? The simply feel they should just absorb the corporate
mission. While the team mission should be congruent with the
corporate mission it should reflect the mission of the people on the
3. Goals: Do not confuse goals with job or performance
standards. Goals are people based where performance standards are
position based. Each person should have specific goals as well as a
tracking system. Goals are easily modified throughout the year and
4. Objectives: Like goals objectives are people based and
objectives are more geared towards the entire team’s objectives.
These are the results that the entire team is striving for.
Objectives need to be task driven and focused on the end results.
5. Common Values: If you have members who do not share in the
common values of each other then the friction will be difficult to
This goes back to Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great”, and in
particular chapter three, “First Who Then What”, getting the right
people on the bus, in the right seats and the wrong ones off of the
6. Behavioral Norms: A strong leader sets the expectations in
advance and begins to hold members accountable. As the team
progresses each member begins to hold everyone else accountable. In
the beginning acceptable behavior needs to be established.
7. Job Fit: Understanding one’s natural behavioral tendencies
is critical to see if a person will be a good fit in a particular
For example my natural DiSC® dominion is a very high D&I. This means
that my style would not really be suitable for an accounts payable
position because most likely my attention to detail would eventually
reveal numerous errors because of repetitive work bores me. It is
this stage that most leaders pick up the process. You see this is
also where the “job description” comes into play.
8. Maintain Standards: In fact I would suggest that instead
of maintaining standards you actually raise the standard. This goes
for both the team and the individual on the team. One of the biggest
challenges is that many leaders start off with high standards and
after a short while they soften up on the standards. They say they
are conforming to the needs of the team and easing their leadership
As soon as basic standards are eased the team begins a downward
spiral that may be too difficult to regain control.
9. Identify and Deal with Conflict: The first part is usually
quite easy. The challenge comes with the second part. One of the key
reasons leaders fail (leaders does not necessarily mean bosses) is
their failure to deal with conflict. Many feel that if they ignore
it the conflict will go away. Wrong!
10. Recognize Performance: Performance recognition does not
need to begin from the top down. In fact peer recognition is
critical to the success of any team. Recognition up down and across
every team will increase the overall performance faster than almost
While every team is a little different, the process is still the
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