Team Building Hierarchy of Needs Just as with Maslow’s hierarchy of personal needs, all teams too have needs that must be met. It all starts with the foundation and builds from there.
Relationship: Relationship is the foundation of all high performance teams. People must know, respect, and understand one another. Just like the construction of a high-rise, if you don’t have a solid foundation you will not get very far. If you do not have this base you will never become high performance as these factors will become critical at some point.
Trust: Relationship allows trust to build. You do not need to be BFF’s with everyone at work, but you need to have a positive relationship with them and understand them for trust to form. You can have trust with those you do not know well, but this trust will be limited.
Communication: Trust allows us to have open and honest communication. This form of communication is critical within teams. You cannot afford to have gatekeepers of information, or less than full disclosure of thoughts, ideas, concerns and feelings. If there is no relationship there will be a lack of trust and this will impair communication.
Commitment: Only when full and effective communication has happened can there be commitment. If I have not had a chance to express my thoughts, ideas, concerns and questions I will not be willing to commit to the plan or course of action. Communication is critical for commitment.
Accountability: If I have truly committed to the plan, I will hold myself and others accountable to it. Accountability means putting your reputation on the line and people will only do this if they are 100% on board.
Ownership: If everything has come together; solid relationships have built trust, this trust has supported open and honest communication, communication has generated commitment, and commitment drives accountability. Now you will have ownership of high performance. This is a team or individual who takes pride in what they do and the results achieved. They will go above and beyond to build success.
Start from a strong foundation and build from there and you have a great chance of building a high performance team.
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So, you are a manager or project lead charged with putting together a new team. If you are lucky, you may get to influence the choice of who makes it onto your team. Often, the decision is not entirely yours. You may even have outside customers or partners who are assigned to the project. How do you get a diverse group of individuals to come together and develop into a high performing team as quickly as possible?
Here are several tips about pulling together a team that will achieve results and come away energized about the whole experience.
- Begin with the end in mind. There are really two main aspects of this golden rule that Stephen R. Covey made famous. First, be clear about the common goal – what you are trying to achieve together. You will really inspire people to engage in the goal if you can express it in ways beyond a simple financial target. Discuss and determine together what success look like for the customers, partners or society in general. Try to inspire! Second, be clear about the team experience itself. What should it feel like and look like to be on this team? As leader, open the dialogue and get consensus on how people expect each other to behave – your group ‘norms’. Don’t skip this step thinking that it’s obvious. It’s not. Write down the norms and communicate them because you will come back to these expectations when discussions get heated or conflicts emerge.
- Clarify leadership and decision-making. Who is the official lead and what powers does he or she have? Who will facilitate meetings? How will you make decisions? Consensus will build commitment but, if things bog down and consensus eludes you, everyone will likely appreciate a good (previously agreed-upon) process for making critical decisions and moving forward.
- Clarify roles and responsibilities of team members. Roles may change and responsibilities may blur with the passage of time, but clarity will reduce conflict and set people at ease.
- Build relationships early on. Get to know one another beyond ‘the work world” by having fun together. Often. Consider structured team building events, a special potluck meal or simple icebreakers before meetings. Do this in the “forming’ stage of team development and continue it on a regular basis.
- Create a safe environment for differences of opinion. Your group ‘norms’ will likely address this. Encourage differences of opinion to surface, rather than ignoring them or glossing them over. On the other hand, don’t let petty, recurring differences dominate the agenda to the point where high performers lose patience.
- Create small successes early on and celebrate them. Break your project down so that people can achieve sub-goals, experience success and get fired up for the next round.
- Build high performance capacity. At the end of every project, take the time to reflect with the team on what they would do the same next time. And, of course, what they might do differently to create an even better team experience.
Don’t leave your team’s performance to chance. Deliberately create the conditions for success in both the task and the relationships. Your organisation and your team will thank you.
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