Shifting the Paradigm: Making a Successful Team that has Team Member Feedback
The following is an excerpt from the book Integrated Enterprise Excellence Volume III - Improvement Project Execution: A Management and Black Belt Guide for Going Beyond Lean Six Sigma and the Balanced Scorecard, Citius Publishing, 2008
Previous blogs described a business management system and how projects can be selected that benefits the enterprise as a whole. This blog is a third in a series which steps through various aspects of the Lean Six Sigma Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) roadmap for process improvement.
When forming teams, members need to have the appropriate skill sets; e.g., self-facilitation and technical/subject-matter expertise. The teams should have an appropriate number of members and representation. When launching a team there should be appropriate number of team members. It is important also to have a clear purpose, goals, commitment, ground rules, roles, and responsibilities set for the team members. Schedules, support from management, and team empowerment issues must also be addressed.
Team dynamics and performance issues must also be addressed, such as:
1. Team-building techniques that address goals, roles, responsibilities, introductions, and stated/hidden agenda.
2. Team facilitation techniques that include applying coaching, mentoring, and facilitation techniques that guide a team to overcome problems; e.g., overbearing, dominant, or reluctant participants. In addition, the unquestioned acceptances of opinions as facts, feuding, floundering, rush to accomplishment, attribution, digressions, tangents, etc.
3. Measurement of team performance in relationship to goals, objectives and metrics.
4. Use of team tools such as nominal group technique, force-field analysis, and other team tools.
Ten ingredients for a successful team have been described as (Scholtes 1988):
1. Clarity in team goals
2. An improvement plan
3. Clearly defined roles
4. Clear communication
5. Beneficial team behaviors
6. Well-defined decision procedures
7. Balanced participation
8. Established ground rules
9. Awareness of the group process
10. Use of the scientific approach
Teams need to work both smart and hard at completing their tasks. However, the team needs to support the needs of individual members. To understand the needs of team members, there has to be feedback. The most common form of this feedback is a one-on-one conversation.
We want feedback to be constructive. For this to happen, we must acknowledge the need for both positive and negative feedback, know when and how to both give and receive feedback, and understand the context.
Feedback should be descriptive, relating objectively to the situation, giving examples whenever possible. The basic format for such a statement follows, where descriptive words could be changed for the particular situation.
"When you are late for meetings, I get angry because I think it is wasting the time of all the other team members, and we are never able to get through our agenda items. I would like you to consider finding some way to plan your schedule that lets you get to these meetings on time. That way we can be more productive at the meetings, and we can all keep to our tight schedules."
Additional guidelines for giving feedback are: don't use labels such as immature, don't exaggerate, don't be judgmental, speak for yourself, and talk about yourself, not about the other person. In addition, phrase the issue as a statement rather than a question, restrict feedback to things you know for certain, and help people hear/accept your compliments when positive feedback is given.
Scholtes, P. R. (1988), The Team Handbook: How to Use Teams to Improve Quality, Joiner Associates, Madison, WI.