“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Michael Jordan, Athlete
Here are the three critical pieces of advice for creating an Agreed Upon Work Approach for your team:
- Set Ground Rules
- Do a team Start-Stop-Continue exercise every 3-6 months
- Create action plans together
Setting Ground Rules
First of all, if you aren’t holding team meetings, start. Have one a month or one a week. I don’t care. At least have ONE! Make the purpose of your next meeting to set some team ground rules. Send an email to your team asking each of them to think about ground rules they would like to set for each of the following themes:
- Output quality
Make sure everyone attends the meeting, and give them each a piece of flipchart paper to tape to the wall. Have them write up the ground rules they want to propose. Then have each one present while the rest of the team sits in silence. The only speaking allowed from non-presenters is to ask a clarifying question.
Once everyone has presented, ask the group to narrow the list down to five or six ground rules that you’ll all agree to start living by right away.
Do a team Start-Stop-Continue exercise every 3-6 months
Within 3-6 months of setting the ground rules, call the team back together. For those of you already having regular meetings, include this in one of your existing meetings. Before the meeting, send an email to your team asking them to reflect on the ground rules, and come to the meeting prepared to give ideas about:
- What the team should stop doing – it is making the team ineffective
- What the team should start doing – this may be a new ground rule or activity
- What the team should continue doing – it doesn’t hurt to celebrate your successes!
Set up your meeting room so that there are three sheets of flip-chart already up on the wall labeled “Start”, “Stop” and “Continue”. When the team arrives, give them each a marker and have them post their thoughts under each category.
Next, have everyone present what they wrote to the group, while the rest of the team sits quietly only asking questions for clarification. Finally, have your team narrow down the list to a few key changes you will make together. Repeat every 3-6 months.
Create Action Plans Together
The first two exercises under the Agreed Upon Working Approach were behaviorally focused. Create trust by acknowledging behaviors that are acceptable and not acceptable to the team. They basically speak to staying out of each other’s way and not annoying each other.
Create action plans together has a bit of a different feel. Action plans are task focused. They speak to the rational or logical approach you will take to getting a job done. The importance of this is also underestimated. Everyone thinks there is only one logical approach to executing any given solution – theirs.
Developing action plans together does a few critically important things:
- It makes certain that the person assigned the task knows what it is and has confirmed they are capable of doing it.
- It makes certain everyone else on the team knows what everyone else is up to so that they are not surprised by anyone’s activities, therefore discouraging gossip and counter-productive whining.
- It leverages the creativity and intelligence of the team to find the most efficient and effective means possible of getting to the end of game.
“Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi, famous American football coach.
Get every individual committed to the team’s effort is at the crux of why creating action plans together builds trust. When everyone knows what the play is, their own role in the play, and everyone else’s role (or non-role), it clears up a lot of confusion and breeds trust and accountability. Trust and accountability creates efficiency. Efficiency helps keep focus. Focus creates results. Results means career success for you.