What is a team?
Before we try to understand what is a high-performing collaborative self-organized team is or what are its assets, we first need to understand what do we mean by a team. There are many definitions that you would come across if you do a google search for the word “team”. However, the definition I like the most or I use to define a team is
A group of professionals who are interdependent, accountable for each others performance and have a common goal is a team.
Not every group becomes a team; it has to have these three important characteristics:
- Common objective and a shared vision
- Ownership of each others success or failure
- Feeling of oneness within the group
Every team undergoes four stages as per Bruce Tuckman’s model of group development. This include:
forming – when the professionals meet and learn about the opportunities and challenges;
storming – team members form opinion about other team members, disagreements happen;
norming – the disagreements between team members are resolved and a common ground is achieved; team members start collaborating with each other
performing – as the disagreements are resolved and team member start working towards a common goal and shared vision, they start delivering value.
When a group goes through all the stages and still stays together then it becomes a team in real essence. For a team to become high-performing, collaborative and self-organized; it needs to be nurtured, empowered and given a safe environment where it is not afraid to take risks, learn from its failures and move ahead.
This empowerment, nourishment and safe environment does not comes from outside of the team but from inside. In his book, The 5 dysfunctions of team, Patrick Lencioni describes the dysfunctions in a group that would not allow it to become a high-performing team. He points out overcoming these dysfunctions would take the team in the direction of becoming high-performing, collaborative and self-organized.
Assets of a High-performing, collaborative, self-organized team
Every team member has to trust his counterpart. This trust is not the trust which is built over a period of time; but this is vulnerability based trust. When a team member is able to take responsibility of his/her mistakes in front of the team without the fear of any repercussions, that’s when such a trust is formed.
People say conflicts are not good but trust me they are essential part of team building. If people do not voice their opinions for the fear of conflict they would never have a complete buy-in the idea. Teams need to have “Productive Dissent” amongst them i.e. conflicts around ideas, they should voice their opinions passionately to ensure that they are heard and team has made best choices from all the available ideas on the table.
For any team to be successful, commitment is one core value that every team member should share. In this context commitment is towards getting clarity and buy-in for making the right decisions based on the knowledge at hand.
Taking ownership of one must do. It also refers to the willingness of team members to hold their counterparts accountable for their actions and behavior which might impact the team.
As a team everyone’s focus should be on the team goals; team results. When everyone is aligned to a common goal and vision they can work more collaboratively without pushing one’s own agenda over the team’s goal.
Thus, to build a high-performing, self-organizing, collaborative team one must first cultivate the five core values of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and goals in the team.