Developing Team Working Skills
Team leaders and team members alike need to have a clear understanding of and ability in applying the skills and behaviours required for effective team working. Knowledge which can be useful to teams in managing their team working effectiveness includes:
Helpful and problem behaviours in teams
Problem behaviours are those behaviours which:
Helpful behaviours on the other hand are those behaviours which:
Team members can find it useful when they are given an opportunity constructively to articulate what they find helpful or problematic about their team's overall behaviour. The following exercise provides a useful framework around which to build team discussion of helpful and problem behaviours:
1. Ask team members individually to think through and write down answers to four key questions:
2. Draw the team together and ask individuals, in turn, to volunteer some of the helpful and problem behaviours which they have listed, and to explain their effects. Emphasize that it is important for all team members to:
3. Draw the information given together to identify those helpful and problem behaviours which have the most significant impact on the team, and which therefore need to be most actively encouraged or discouraged.
Exposing and discussing the problem behaviours as a team can lead to a consensus and agreement on some 'ground rules' for how team members will interact with one another. Discussing the helpful behaviours is also useful, in that it helps team members to understand what is actually happening between them, when things are going well. This knowledge can be beneficial, in that it enhances the team's ability to interpret and respond to problems in team working relationships, when these occur.
Planning and problem solving in teams
Teams of individuals working together need to have highly developed planning and problem solving capability. This is particularly true of teams which have been brought together to work on specific projects or to manage specific initiatives. There is a wide range of project planning tools and techniques for teams to draw on. Specific training inputs in relation to these tools and techniques might usefully include:
See more on this topic in: Tips and Tools, Volume 3, Issue 6, Training in Managing Small to Medium Sized Projects.
Problem solving tools are equally abundant. Those in most frequent use for team problem solving include:
Again, ability to use these tools can be developed through demonstration, coaching and guided practice.
Team working analysis and diagnosis
Development of team working skills - particularly when related to specific teams in an operational context - will need to be based around a clear understanding of the team's specific characteristics and tendencies. This understanding informs the direction and content of any training inputs, making them relevant to the team and its situation. One approach which can be useful is to 'canvass' individual team members for their personal views and opinions on different aspects of their team's performance. Individuals can be asked to complete and return a questionnaire about their team. Responses can be analysed to create a whole-team perspective of the team and how effectively it performs. Findings from this analysis can be presented as an introduction to planned team development activities.
A suggested list of questions is shown below:
The better a team scores against each question, the better it is performing. Team development needs can be prioritized and targeted to those areas in which the team is perceived to score least well. Questionnaires such as the one shown above are also a useful way to analyse the extent to which a team might actually benefit from some fort of development activity. A key aspect of any training and development activity should be its perceived link to an identified development need. Where questionnaires and surveys reveal teams to be performing fairly well, there is a question mark over whether any significant investment in team building and/or team working development would actually be worthwhile. Analysis of survey results can, at the very least, provide training professionals with a clear rationale for any team development activity which they may be planning. Team observation is another practical method for analysing and diagnosing the development needs of any specific team. Teams may request training professionals in their internal consultant role to observe them in action and to give feedback to inform their development.
Observation exercises of this kind can be based around:
Analysis of the team's performance can be further enhanced by combining observation exercises with completion of team questionnaires, such as that shown above. This helps to give a well rounded perception of the team's performance, with both internal and external views being taken into account as part of the overall data used to determine the team's development needs.
For more information...
DBA regularly runs workshops on team working skills for a number of
key organizations. If you would like advice about team training in your
organization, please get in touch to see how we can help. You can contact
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