Align People for Results

Knowing how to develop and sustain a high performing team is an essential leadership capability.

One of the quickest and most enjoyable ways for a leader to create a high performing team is to develop a set of Team Agreements that set the tone for what is acceptable and/or unacceptable team behavior.  These Team Agreements can work to establish the basis for high-performance regardless of how long the team has been in place.  Team norms exist on all teams.  Articulating the “right” norms and getting buy-in to “living” them while ridding the team of dysfunctional norms are vital steps toward high performance.

The measure of a team’s performance capacity often correlates with its ability to establish trust between and among members, deal with conflict, make decisions, provide candid feedback, and create clear accountability.  A savvy leader can work with the team to determine the aspects of team functioning that are working or not working, for example, by discussing team performance with each team member or by carefully observing team dynamics, and use the information gathered to create Team Agreements that lead to continuously improved team results. Involving the entire team in the development of the Agreements ensures commitment and buy-in.

Team Agreements typically consist of positive traits that are expected by each team member such as genuinely listening to each other and assuming positive intent on the part of one’s teammates.

In addition to creating the Team Agreements, the team needs to establish a plan for holding each team member accountable for “living” the agreements.  If a team member fails to “live” the Agreements, how will she be given feedback and coaching?  What are the consequences for consistently failing to “live” the Agreements?  Who is ultimately responsible for keeping team members’ behavior in line with the Agreements?  Ensuring that constructive feedback and coaching are provided and consequences are implemented are essential to improving team performance.  Holding people on the team accountable builds trust, reinforces the new norms, and inspires the team.

As well as establishing consequences, it is important for a team to celebrate its success and take inventory on the ways it is making positive change.  The process of reviewing and reinforcing the Agreements builds the esprit de corps and strengthens the impact and power of the team.

What are you doing to create your Team Agreements?  How will you challenge your team to “live” its Agreements?

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