Since I work with a lot of workplace teams, I am often asked, “How do we compare to all the other teams you work with?” I smile knowingly, nod my head and gently respond, “There is no comparison. All teams are unique and have their own personalities.”
True enough; however, there are a few tell-tale signs of truly extraordinary teams who achieve exceptional results using an effective process while building cooperative relationships:
Diverse Agenda. The agenda has many topics and different “presenters” to lead that section of the agenda. Teamwork cannot thrive when the leader dominates over 50% of the agenda.
Volunteers. When tasks are assigned at the conclusion of the meeting or as the team identifies actions forward, team members willingly volunteer based on their time availability, expertise, and the workload of the entire team. Extraordinary teams don’t have to pull teeth to get people to volunteer!
Facilitator. Extraordinary teams use a facilitator or process observer to ensure the team stays on track, on time, and gracefully intervenes when appropriate. No one is allowed to hijack the team’s time and agenda without the full consent of the team.
Invisible Leader. When observing the team during a brainstorming session, I cannot tell who the team leader is. The leader is actively participating along with the rest of the team and no one defers to the authority in the room.
Aim for Consensus. For really big decisions, most teams aim for consensus where all can live with and support the decision upon implementation. However, sometimes teams get stuck. Extraordinary teams have already determined a “fall back” position where the team either takes a majority vote, remands it to the team leader, or parks it until a later time when more information is available. As a result, teams don’t feel pressured to compromise for the sake of achieving a consensus.
Focus. Extraordinary teams have clarity of purpose. They understand the big picture goal as well as the day-to-day mechanics of what needs to be done. They don’t sweat the small stuff; they focus on the vital tasks.
No Bickering. Conflict is a natural part of the team process because everyone brings a different perspective to the team. It takes time to understand multiple perspectives and make some mutually agreeable decisions forward. Yet some teams move beyond conflict and obsess over stupid stuff that shouldn’t even be an issue among adults. Somehow, the issue creeps into the teams’ psyche, manifesting into annoying, petty, childish behavior. Extraordinary teams give themselves a lot of space and don’t focus on these small, pea-sized irritants.
Have Fun. As soon as you walk into the room, you sense that team members enjoy the work that they do and the people that they work with. They appreciate a positive atmosphere and collaborative environment.
Question: Are you part of an extraordinary team?
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