Where are we going? What are we doing? And how are we doing it? Effective teams need to answer all of these important questions.
The Teamworx Team Effectiveness Model™ is a basic framework used for discussing how teams work together. It helps team members more clearly understand how they engage in team activities — not only what they do, and how they do it, but where they are going as a team. The Five Core Activities — Initiate, Investigate, Decide, Plan and Execute — define what an Effective Team does. The Four Supporting Activities — Communicate, Resolve and Negotiate, Establish Accountability, and Continuously Improve determine the team’s culture. And to be truly Effective, these activities all revolve around Mission, Vision, and Values, which provide shared direction and purpose for the team.
Mission, Vision and Values
A team’s Mission, Vision and Values articulate the most central principles for the team’s existence. Properly constructed and agreed, they set out the team’s purpose and direction. In addition, they are the indispensable building blocks of strategy. They guide the team in decision-making and actions in both the short and long term. Highly effective teams begin with a process to define Mission, Vision and Values and then periodically review and renew them as required.
A team’s Mission statement clarifies what it is currently seeking to do for its customers or stakeholders. It is a statement of purpose, and answers the questions “What is the team’s reason for existing?”, or “What are we trying to accomplish on behalf of our stakeholders?” An effective mission statement serves as a guide for day-to-day work as well as providing the foundation for future decision-making. In the absence of a clearly articulated mission, the team may lack direction.
The team’s vision provides a powerful and inspiring picture of the outcome the team seeks, at some point in the future. The Vision is designed to create a rallying point for the team’s overall efforts, expressed in a way that gives team members a larger sense of purpose. A good Vision statement uses language that creates an image that provokes emotion and excitement.
A team’s values are fundamental and deeply held. They require no external justification, have intrinsic value and are important to everyone on the team. They do not change over time. Values are an implicit part of the promise of team membership, and establish for prospective and existing team members what they can expect from their teammates and team leaders.
The five Core Activities describe what an effective team does. Teams that are nice to one another but which fail to achieve their business objectives — teams that, in the words of one of our clients “don’t put the puck in the net!” are not effective. Highly Effective Teams consistently engage in these five core activities in order to ensure that things get done.
At the outset of team formation, Effective Teams recognize, encourage and enable a sequence of activities designed to clarify the purpose and focus of the team and define team norms.
Effective teams clarify the scope of their business activities and develop analytical frameworks suited to their business purpose.
Decision-making is a fundamental purpose for a team’s existence. The most effective teams develop and use a decision-making approach that enables timely decisions about the business issues within the team’s scope of responsibility.
Effective Teams make clear, comprehensive, cogent and actionable plans in order to address their business issues, communicate their plans and gain support for moving ahead in a purposeful way. Plans include benchmarks and milestones, and are geared to successful and predictable execution.
In order to resolve business issues and evolve the organization, Effective Teams execute on the plans that they have created.
The four Supporting Activities describe how an effective team enables and supports its Core Activities. Teams that focus exclusively on getting things done (the Core Activities), without putting any effort into the culture of the team, are not sustainable. The four Supporting Activities enable teams to manage the inevitable interpersonal dynamics of working with other human beings, as well as providing the team with the tools for staying on track and rising to ever greater levels of productivity.
Effective teams focus on clear and meaningful communications, recognizing that communications is a two-way street, which involves not only the person initiating the communication, but also those receiving the communication. Effective teams practice active listening techniques to ensure that their approach to communication is effective for everyone involved.
Resolve and negotiate
Teamwork inevitably involves differences of opinion, and potentially, unproductive conflict. Effective teams recognize that conflict can be productive when managed properly, and work together to create effective mechanisms for managing individual and team conflict in order to produce results.
Accountability for business results is both personal and collective. Effective teams recognize that individual accountability is a means to achieving the team’s desired outcomes. They work together to create opportunities for personal accountability, and to provide methods for the team to keep itself on track.
Continuous improvement is an underlying principle of effective teams. In order for the team to contribute to the organization’s overall objectives of continuing to excel, effective teams create mechanisms to govern themselves and manage towards increasingly productive outcomes.