John Adair’s research into high performing teams identified three areas of focus all successful teams need to address if they are to remain in balance. They are Task; Team and Individual. As the end of the year looms into view and we all schedule our last team meetings of 2015, I offer you three questions to consider that may propel you on the journey towards High Performing Team status.
Q1: Task – What have we achieved together as a team this year that is worthy of celebration?
This positive focus question is one I often use at the start of any team session at any time throughout the year, as it has the power to re-focus minds towards what we are doing well. Catching a team doing things well is a habit I find only exists in high performing teams. The preference many teams use instead is to take success for granted and focus on the next challenge or issue to resolve. The upshot being that we do not really celebrate success, which over time can sap the soul and of course diminishes the importance of the very success you are aiming for.
There is also a learning opportunity to be had from this question. If we dwell long enough and explore why we succeeded, then we may unearth a new behaviour that is worthy of becoming a habit. I find if you explore what went well people tend to open up more than if you are exploring what went wrong. The university of life provides many lessons for those of us who take the time to reflect on the content.
Q2: Team – What areas would you like the team to focus more on next year and why will this make a difference?
This is a future focused question and can help you understand any underlying frustrations your team may have with the structure, format and content of your team meetings. It is easy for teams to fall into habitual agenda’s that fail to evolve as the team progress along the journey towards HiPo status. The underlying operating culture in your organisation plays a part in this, as does the leaders leadership style.
If you work in a task focussed, results driven operating environment than a tendency to focus on quick update reports; targets and data; short term actions; and troubleshooting issues tends to drive the agenda. Meetings are often fast paced and there is little time to think, or deep dive and explore issues in any meaningful way. Alternatively, if your operating culture is more relaxed and less pressurised then a more innovative agenda can flourish, where medium and long term challenges can be considered and explored and new thinking can emerge.
Similarly, if the team leader likes to be in control then a ‘Tell’ or ‘Sell’ leadership style tends to be the norm. However if the team leader is more collaborative then a ‘Participate’ and ‘Delegate’ style is usually deployed that enables the team to contribute more meaningfully to the content of the meetings.
Eitherway question 2 is designed to flush out opportunities to improve the quality of the team meetings you are having.
Q3: Individual – If you gave everyone in your team a magic wand that enabled them to change one thing about the way the team works together as a team what would they change and why?
This question taps into and exposes individual team members aspirations and desires for the team. Whenever I ask this question it usually makes people smile and then think, two attributes all team meetings could benefit from! It allows everyone to reflect on the way they have been working as a team and gives them the chance to share their views on any gaps between personal aspirations and current reality. It can help the team establish some new ground rules for working together that better matches what team members want and as such can propel the team towards a HiPo status.
As the year draws to a close I find people naturally start to enter a reflective mode and this is the mind-set needed to ask these questions so give them a go and see what insights they reveal.