New Roles Must Be Defined to Keep Ship from Sinking

Posted by Kristin Arnold on November 21, 2009

When your company reorganizes and assigns everyone to a team they can’t simply rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.  You don’t just put people into teams and then expect them to act like a team.  New job titles such as “team leader,” “facilitator,” and “team members” without learning and understanding the new roles and skills are a form of abdication — not teamwork.

When the company moves into a team structure, the concept of team accountability, metrics, teamwork, and team skills should be discussed:

Team Accountability.  The hierarchical structure of boss/employee is not the same.  Rather than employees looking to the boss to solve their problems, the team should look to each other to achieve success.  The team recognizes that it cannot be successful if everyone does not participate and work toward the team goals.  The team holds itself accountable.

Metrics.  Each team member should have a clear understanding of how the team measures success — from an entire company viewpoint as well as from the smaller work team perspective.  The team should be actively measuring performance contributions to the team goals.  How will the team be recognized and rewarded for success?  What will happen if they don’t meet the goals?

Teamwork.  The organization should establish clear expectations of what “teamwork” is.  Some examples include: participating in team meetings, completing team assignments when due, arriving on time, being considerate of other people by allowing them to speak, offering help to others without being asked.

Team Skills.  The organization should also provide team training on team roles, active listening, effective decision making, building consensus, managing conflict, and problem solving.  Training helps individual employees come together as “team players” and hold each other accountable.

As a team member, you have a voice.  Use it.  If you are not satisfied with the team’s performance or behavior, bring it to the team to discuss.  Give descriptive feedback on what’s working well with the team and what you see that is preventing the team from performing to its fullest potential.  Tie your observations back to the team’s goal (otherwise, you’ll just look like you have an ax to grind).

Then let the team (with you being part of the team) identify positive actions to move the team forward.

Question:  Has your company rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic or avoided the iceburg altogether?

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