Architecting Your Leadership Team For High Performance – Part 2

What we’re going to delve into now with the second question speaks to the idea of accelerating the start-up of the team. So once you have the right people and the right roles and you’re forming new teams how do you actually help that team accelerate as a startup.

Team Effectiveness Models

You may be familiar with different models of team effectiveness and we’ll go over three in particular that are quite common, and then the fourth one we will talk about is actually the one I find a lot of value in. One of the more common models is called the GRPI model (Goals, Roles, Process, Interpersonal) the premise is to be aligned as a team you really need to focus on having common goals or at least interdependent goals. Then from that what roles do you need to establish, what team processes do you need to have, and how do you work through any potential interpersonal issues so that you have effective communication and the ability to work through conflict. The model is shaped as a pyramid because most of what’s going to influence how well a team does or doesn’t do focuses on how well they are aligned around a common or interdependent goal.

If you go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and looking up books in team effectiveness, chances are the book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, will show up. Similar to the GRIPI model, it is shaped like a pyramid, but it focuses on different things. This model starts with the premise that if you don’t have trust, you can’t have a high performing team. An absence of trust presents a fear of conflict in organizations, and without that they will have no commitment or be able to hold one another accountable to get to the desired results. So if you were to look at that pyramid in the positive sense, it would go as follows: if you have trust you can work through conflict, if you can work through conflict you can have commitment, if you have commitment you can then be accountable, and the accountability then is what leads to results. Both good models so far. They are practical and I do find that organizational leaders enjoy working with them. 

Then finally, another model that you may or may not have seen before, talks about the four stages that teams need to go through. The graph basically is the performance of the team and the effectiveness of the team as they go through those stages. So there is sort of this honeymoon period where teams come together and form. They feel a little dip in terms of their effectiveness do to the storming, and what that normally means is that they are working through those issues that we talked about with the previous models. They come through with more of a norming effect or a common understanding of how to work together, and then they approve upon that norming phase to reach a higher level of team performance. We probably could have 20 more models, but I think you get the point that they can be very simple yet elegant in terms of how you can use that information to work with teams. 

Team Task Cycle

The model that I have relied on quite a bit lately is a different model, and it’s called a team task cycle. In this model, it’s basically the recognition, understanding, decision, implementation, and completion steps that all teams have to go through together in order to be effective and to lead organizations. What I find is the challenge is getting all team members to have that journey together as a collective team.

So what takes place? The five steps are:

1.    Recognition
•    Identification of the circumstances
•    What purpose or task is in front of them
•    Any biases, constraints, or assumptions 

2.    Understanding
•    Confirming what the issues are
•    Clarifying and amplifying situations as necessary
•    Analyze to inform a plan for the situation

3.    Decision
•    Select the best option
•    Finalize the criteria of success
•    Garner commitment

4.    Implementation
•    Translate ideas into action
•    Project plans
•    Plan-Do-Check-Act

5.    Completion
•    Assessment, follow-ups, sustainability
•    Empowerment of process owners
•    Release authority to others

What we find then is that if the team is successful in doing that, it brings them right back to square one because now something else comes on the radar screen and there’s a new strategic direction, there’s a new initiative that needs to be addressed, a new problem to be solved. So the task of the leadership team is to have this awareness about this and then complete the cycle again, and again, and again.

Your Leadership Team

Let’s see what this would look like in a hypothetical situation. You have a leadership team, and the first notion is; are they operating under a common goal? I would argue that with most teams, they get put together and may be a team and name only, but they’re not a team in the sense that they have a common purpose or a set of interdependent goals. So what happens in the minds of the team players is that everyone comes to this with certain needs, certain agendas, and certain ways of looking at the world. Good team leaders will take the time to understand the team members and take the time to drive the strategy of what the goals are that need to be accomplished and what the interdependencies are, or the commonality among the team members. 

If you’re able to do that then the team is in a place or a position where they can now go through the team task cycle that we talked about. The work that I do with teams is to help them do this effectively so that they are making an impact and also to do it efficiently so that they can go from one around the dial to five in a process that really leverages their talents and minimizes the amount of rework that they have to do or the amount of unnecessary spending they have to do to accomplish that. 

DISC Temperament Inventory

A very simple tool that I have used to help with that process is the D.I.S.C. temperament inventory. In other words using assessments to help leaders and leadership teams work more effectively as they go through the team task cycle. At a high level, we generally find that people fall into two or three of these categories, but we often find that someone has a preference or dominance of one over the other. 

Driver Temperament
•    Results oriented
•    Bottom-line
•    A need to run the show

Influencer Temperament
•    Focused on image
•    Focused on recognition
•    Have a need to express themselves

Stabilizer Temperament
•    Centered around people
•    Centered around process
•    Have a need for routine and harmony. 

Conscientious Temperament
•    Provide details
•    Enjoy their privacy
•    Value quality

Again, some folks will end up having more than one. I’ve work with individuals who have been both drivers and influencers, or drivers and conscientious. There are different combinations that they can have. 

So what would that look like if we were to take our leadership team? Whether it’s spoken or not, they all have certain needs. Reggie’s biggest concern may be that the project is behind schedule, and what he needs is for everyone to get on board to get the work done more quickly so that they can meet their deadlines. Tonia has reservations. She doesn’t feel the need to move forward at this point until she has some more data to collect. So there’s the potential right there for a conflict between what Reggie needs and what Tonia needs, and if we are putting the team through a team task cycle they will be at different points in the process.

Transition Barriers

A lot of the work that I do is helping teams have a self-awareness on a couple levels. One is that these teams will go through predictable steps of recognition, understanding, decision, implementation, and completion, but more importantly helping them understand from a self-awareness perspective that their style and what they need may or may not be in cooperation with the style and needs of other people. We spend time really trying to help them understand themselves so that they can begin to flex their style in support of their teammates.  

Along the task cycle then, from steps 1 – 2, 2 – 3 and so forth. I call these hurdles, road blocks, dips in the road, you can use different terms but what it comes down to are stumbling blocks where teams get tripped up. A lot of times they won’t know they have been tripped up, or if they do know, they really don’t know how they can “un-trip” themselves to get moving again. So we call them transition barriers because they prevent movement to the next step in the team task cycle. 

•    Recognition --> Understanding  =  Insight
•    Understanding --> Decision = Mobilization
•    Decision --> Implementation = Commitment
•    Implementation --> Completion = Integration
•    Completion --> Recognition = Withdrawal

Team Start-Up Summary

So in summary for the second question, (how do you accelerate the start-up of the team?) from my experience I’ve been able to use the team task cycle to help teams understand how to move through it effectively, and how to move through it efficiently. There is three ways of doing that:

1.    Increasing individual self-awareness
2.    Increase other-awareness
3.    Practice leveraging of differences (diversity) by getting good at integrating them (inclusion)

You should also:

-    Align around common goals in terms of interdependence among team members
-    Help team members understand and develop their role on the team
-    Help the team establish some core team processes (i.e. how to make decisions, how to work through conflict, how to work in a matrix environment)