Performing effectively in groups is one of the key aspects of success in business.
Consider the fact that an EXCO is, in fact, a team, as is a Board of Directors. Departments are teams, the combined organisation’s management is a team, and often teams are set up to take on specific business-driven challenges and opportunities. A lot of our success translates into how effective we are in teams.
Everyone who has worked in a team before will know that they are fraught with challenges. Tuckman (1965) got it right when he suggested that teams go through a process of forming, storming, norming and only then, do they become performing entities. Many teams do not make it beyond the storming phase, and the dynamic issues within the team can significantly impact successful delivery.
That’s why group coaching is gaining popularity. A (certified) coach is appointed to work with a team from the beginning of the forming stage, right through to delivery. Amongst other things, the coach can facilitate conversations that need to be held between team members during the storming phase, can assist the team to notice behaviours that perhaps the team members are not aware of, and can bring resources that the team may not have access to.
In the Action Learning context, which is where a team works on a real, urgent and important business challenge, the Worldwide Institute of Action Learning (WIAL) presents three questions which can make a difference to the quality of the team.
The first question: How are we performing as a team?
This is an excellent measure of not only the team’s performance and progress towards their goal, but it is also a wonderful indication of the team’s internal dynamics.
This question needs to be answered by each team member, and is a number-based response out of 10. At a score of 1, the team is completely non-functional, and at 10, the team is outperforming expectations.
The second question: What are we doing well?
This question focuses the group on what’s working. Each team member is given the opportunity to highlight what they believe the team is doing well.
The third question: What can we do better?
The natural assumption is that the next question we’d ask is ‘What are we doing badly’ or ‘What aren’t we doing well’. Framing the question positively is a wonderful way to approach the subject. Instead of focusing the team on the past, it invites the team members to focus on the improvement that can be applied going forward.
Question 4: What are we going to apply?
This question is not part of the Action Learning (WIAL) process, but it does encourage the team to formally decide on what changes they will implement going forward, and how they will hold themselves accountable for embedding this change over future interactions.
These 4 questions need to be asked at regular intervals. It’s pointless asking once in the forming stage, and not again until the storming stage officially starts. These four questions must be asked of the team at every interaction. Through a process of identifying what is working, and applying changes where improvement is identified, the team can truly become an exceptionally high-performing entity.
Why not try it, and see for yourself what a difference these 4 questions can make. Please share the results you enjoy by leaving a comment below, or on any of our social media pages.
If you or your organisation is struggling with ineffective teams, or if you have a real and urgent business challenge that you have no solution for yet, reach out to us here for team effectiveness and action learning coaching.
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