Sunday, 12 March 2017

Team Leadership - Three Key Functions - Mark A Frohman

Without clear purpose, process and accountability a team will flounder and fail. If these three functions are not addressed by the team leader:

The people in the team are competent, sincere, hard working. They want to succeed.

Without clear purpose, process and accountability, each person will do what he or she can - work on those things which he or she can accomplish single-handed. It is a situation of capable people, each pecking away at some part of the problem.

They are not getting the results, and they know it.

Lacking meaningful progress and feeling frustrated and defensive, they lash out at each other, thus making teamwork and coordinated efforts even harder to achieve.

The overall result is a breakdown in coordinated effort; instead there is floundering, frustration, disappointment and failure to produce.

The value of teamwork cannot be overemphasized. All organizations need people willing to share their ideas, listen to others and be involved in the problem solving process. These people provide the operational intelligence to solve problems and shape decisions that improve performance and customer satisfaction.

The benefits of teams can only be achieved with leadership that performs these three key leadership functions:

1. Setting purpose and direction (Part 1) 
2. Establishing team-based process and decision making (Part 2) 
3. Fostering conventional and nontraditional accountability (Part 3)

To help you lead your team across the chasm from floundering to high performance, we explain each function in the three articles in this set on leadership.

Setting purpose and direction

For team leaders, the most effective tool to create purpose and direction is the Team Charter. Most people are familiar with job descriptions and goal setting and performance evaluation for individuals. The charter is the comparable tool for teams. It presents the "job" of the team, its goals and measures and other pertinent information. A good Charters need be no more than a page or two and cover these items:

A. The business context or "big picture" of the team's assignment. 
B. The specific purpose and goals for the team. 
C. The expected results or "deliverables" in quantifiable terms (metrics) and due dates. 
D. Ground rules or constraints the team must consider. 
E. Team membership and roles. 
F. Meeting schedule

Sample Charter Outline.

I. Background: 
II. Purpose and Goals: 
III. Measures: 
IV. Schedule of Due Dates and Meetings: 
V. Members and Roles: 
VI. Ground rules and Constraints: 
VII. Sponsor:

Charter Approved By: (All member and leader) 

Chartering a team is a three step process.

Step one. Since the Charter "translates" the strategic intent or big picture into the work of the team, management is in the best position to do the first draft of the Charter.

The next two steps are crucial. The second step is top management reviews the draft with the team leader and others who have a significant relationship to the work of the team. Then the team leader presents the charter as a draft document to the team members in their first meeting where it is open for discussion, debate, and revision.

The Charter is the engine that powers a high performance team. This third step gives team members the opportunity to apply their knowledge, experience and insight. The team members who drive the "vehicle" must have the opportunity to test it and tweak it before the coordinated work begins. It also helps to form the team's identity and ownership of the Charter.

The Measures section of the team charter deserves special attention from management and team leaders. First of all, measures quantify the goals and the key results the team is asked to deliver. Secondly, the measures help each member see the big targets and the challenge the team has- in contrast to just their individual assignments and goals. Thirdly, measures provide a language to communicate project status and issues to people inside and outside the team and serve as a spring board for team-relevant discussion.

Team process scorecards

Team leaders encourage teams to expand the measures section in the charter as a way to build the communication and participation of the team members. They prompt the team to develop its own set of internal process and communication metrics, the Scorecard. These metrics cover team progress on interaction teamwork and membership issues. Typical scorecard items:

• Teamwork and team processes factors 
• Team decision making 
• Member satisfaction items 
• Meeting evaluations

Establishing team process and decision making is explained in the second article of this set, Team Leadership-The Three Key Functions, Part 2 of 3.

In summary, a key team leader function is to make sure teams receive information about their assignment and expectations of each other. With team purpose and direction in mind team members see and think outside their silos. Leadership that creates Team Charters and Scorecards give teams traction to cross the chasm and perform.

Dr. Mark Frohman, president of Frohman Consulting Corp., is a recognized expert consultant in developing high performing leaders, teams and organizations. He has been engaged as a consultant, coach and facilitator by more than 500 clients. Dr. Frohman works with nonprofit and for-profit organizations ranging from start-ups, small and many family-run businesses to international companies and members of the Fortune 500.

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