Sunday, September 20, 2009

Team Building for Change Leaders

Koliso is currently working with a large public sector organization as one of their key change management resources. We are charged with helping them build a team of highly effective change leaders. We are introducing them to a four step process that will build their team of team agents using real issues they will have to deal with as they roll out their new IT systems and business processes.

There are all sorts of ways of building teams, ranging from outdoor exercises featuring ropes and team games through to high pressure simulations designed to make the team gel together while facing discomfort and anxiety. They all have their place, but they are not the sort of team building exercises we use. We like to get the team working together as quickly as we can on real problems and issues they have to address back in their work place.

Start with trust

Part of the skill of facilitating those exercises is getting the teams to view each other in a new more effective way. We use exercises that get the teams to understand how trust works, and then become more trusting with each other. Usually we start with becoming more open with each other, slowly at first, and progressively about issues that are deeper and likely to raise more anxiety.

With our public sector group we began by having the teams introduce each other (not themselves), by explaining their role, their expectations for the team training and something surprising others might not know about them. It is interesting to watch people begin conversations with colleagues they may have worked with for months or years looking for something new to introduce to the group. It never fails to surprise me what the teams come up with. Recently a group included a competitive ballroom dancer, a trained Inca shaman, a scuba diver and someone who has delivered more than 40 babies in their part-time vocation outside of work.

We call the first part of our team-building process "looking inward." It is part of a series of four one-day workshops designed to shortcut the usual process of team building and get the team straight into being highly effective and producing results. The series looks like this:

Day one, looking inward

We start with trust, then work through the group’s goals, roles, processes, relationships. We want the group to be comfortable handling conflict and diversity, committed and engaged, able to hold each other accountable, and focused on the few things with the most impact.

Day two, looking outward

We use a process we call GoLIVE. We explore how going live with a new process or business change means managing the linkages, impediments, value and execution.

Day three, looking forward

High performing change teams often look different in every organization, yet they have a lot of features in common. We guide the team to put in place some of the key indicators of a highly effective leadership team. This includes things like:

  • An articulated and inspirational vision and mission
  • Aggressive, concrete, measurable targets that raise expectations and minimize ambiguity
  • Results recognized in ways that are visible, quick and clear 
  • Regularly monitored performance with rapid, transparent feedback

Day four, looking beyond

Depending on the outcome of the assessments and the results in the workshops we develop highly customized material related to the needs of the project. Some possibilities include specific conflict management training, communication and marketing strategies for the project, and basic delegation and influence skills.

The truth is teams normally try to figure each other out over a long period of observation, trial and error. A well thought out team building plan will short cut that process for you.

Bottom line

This will help you put together guidelines and norms that accelerate how well you work together as a team of highly effective principled leaders.

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