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When is a team not a team ? 10 key questions all team leaders need at ask.

What we know from our experience, in helping teams and work groups to become even more effective is that great team leaders really know the difference between the two.

Why is this important ? – Although a great team and a great group share some of the key DNA such as clarity of why the team exists, and what’s expected of the team and individuals in it , the main difference between the two is in the “How” the task is achieved. Therefore, what you do to develop them has a distinct difference.

A great analogy is a football team.

When the squad of players line up for their start of the season photo, at that time they are a group – anything from 24-36 players. Each has a specific job, being a defender, goalkeeper, striker etc. but it’s not until the team selection on Wednesday or Saturday that 16 of them become a team. Indeed you could argue it’s the initial 11 players who cross the white line become the final performance team.

So how the team leader (in our case the football manager) acts and develops the Squad/Group & Team is vastly different, and similarly is the case for you as a manager or team leader in the world of business.

When we start working with a team leader we always ask a series of questions to help us make sure your valuable time and money is being spent on the things that will make a difference.

If you can answer “YES” to all the questions you need to be a real team (the 11 players crossing the white line).
If you answer most of the questions “NO” you are probably a working group/Squad !

1. Is there a clear TEAM TASK that requires INTERDEPENDENT and fully integrated working in order to produce an output?
2. Will it be important that team members draw upon various INPUTS and OUTPUTS of other team members?
3. Are there clear BOUNDARIES OF MEMBERSHIP so that it will always be obvious who is in the team?
4. Will the team be given CLEARLY SPECIFIED AUTHORITY to manage their own work processes and make decisions ?
5. Is there a requirement to have membership STABILITY over some reasonable time?
6. Will there be COLLECTIVE TEAM ACCOUNTABILITY based on collective outcomes ?
7. Will the team consist of EIGHT OR LESS members?
8. Do all team members need to be PRESENT AND PLAYING A PART?
9. Does it need to FEEL LIKE A TEAM?
10. Does the Business need you to be operating as a CO-ORDINATED TEAM?

So the question is now… are you a Team or not?

If you are not, there are still some really important things you need to be doing as the leader of the group or ‘squad’:

• Provide context for your group members
• Vision & direction & core values
• Coach, develop individuals capabilities
• Improve key group processes

If you want a really good read about how to develop a really effective work group and a high-performance team then I would recommend Sir Clive Woodward’s Autobiography Winning! – it’s the story of how key business disciplines were applied to develop the 2003 winning World Cup England Rugby team.

Oakridge can help you develop key skill sets through Team Excellence, Coaching, Leadership and Change to maximise your squads performance.

If you are indeed a team then you are ready to start developing the key 14 indicators of team excellence. You can take a quick taster of these – visit our Resource Library to download our Team Excellence Score Card 

Over the next few months we will range over the development of “real teams” in the worksplace – sharing theory along with practical insights from our team of Consultants .

In our next edition we will focus on the key question of size and look at the research that backs up that for a team the sweet spot is 6 – 8 people.

If you would like to find out more about how Oakridge can support you and your team please do not hesitate to contact me.

Steve Munro
Oakridge Senior Consultant


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