Setting Standards for Team Work

flip-chart-1“There is nothing more uncommon than common sense.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

In our team building programs for leaders, I’ve worked with many managers from both public and private sector organizations. One of the questions I usually pose early on is, “How many of you have established a set of expected behaviours with your teams?” This is usually followed by a pretty sparse show of hands. I often don’t even get to use my second question which is, “How many of you re-examine these group norms periodically?” Many people dismiss these ideas with variations of the statement, “That’s all just common sense.” In my experience, common sense is a poor substitute for open discussion and agreement.

What you can do:

Here’s a quick team building exercise to help you open the conversation about your team interactions and establish some ground rules to make you more effective together.

  1. Introduce the topic at a meeting in which you have 30-60 minutes to dedicate to the initiative. Write out on a flip chart or include on the agenda the idea: “The development into a high performance team is a gradual and deliberate process. What can we all do ‘more of’ and ‘less of’ to move our team towards high performance?”
  2. Form subgroups of 3 to 5 people and give each a flip chart page. Have them divide the page into 2 columns. At the top of one column they can write the words “more of” and, at the top of the other, the words “less of”.
  3. Ask each group to brainstorm ideas for behaviours they’d like to see from themselves and their team mates and record them in the appropriate column. Remember: no judging ideas at this stage.
  4. Next, ask them to discuss the ideas and select the top 5 that they agree on for each column.
  5. Each group can present their “top fives” and the entire team can select their collective top fives. Strive for consensus here.
  6. Consolidate the lists on a flip chart and post it at the next meeting. Check in at the beginning of the meeting to remind people, and at the end to reflect on how you did.

This should be a regular and recurring process to keep your team conscious of the behaviours that lead to high performance. It reminds them that they not only influence how their team performs, but that they are also responsible for it.

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