Develop a solid understanding of who, what and why team members interact the way they do. Your outcome is a more productive and profitable – and certainly more healthy – team.
No matter how strict your meeting agenda or how well you anticipate where you want the discussion to go, the course of conversations can go all over the place.
Your leadership skills constantly are being tested by the behavior of team members. How do you reel everyone in and get them back on course?
It starts with your pre-work.
Leading high-functioning teams involves more than developing an immutable agenda or discussion guide. It’s not about keeping everyone’s eyes buried in software programs. Team meetings go off-course for a number of reasons, some healthy, some not. If this scenario is the norm, rather than the exception, you may be its root cause. Are there deficiencies in your own skills as a facilitator? Alternatively, do you have the authority and respect to merit heading up that team?
Identify team personas.
Who is the naysayer? A naysayer always pops up when a decision must be made. They are firmly entrenched in maintaining the status quo. Avoid getting bogged down in “we can’t do that. Determine what you can accomplish together.
A frustrated innovator has wild and crazy ideas. In their mind, every meeting is a brainstorming session. If your team is focused on meeting tight tolerances and deadlines, these folks are disruptive. Let them in on how you need them to contribute.
Non-collaborators only are comfortable within the confines of their professional discipline (and cubicle). They offer great insight and value, but are introverts. It’s your role to help them understand and articulate the value they bring to your collaborative table.
Great teams are courageous. They appreciate where each other is “coming from.” This process involves more than a few moments-of-truth resulting in breakthrough performance.
The way people see things, hear things, and speak about things is non-linear. Once you start sharing your insights about team personas, team members begin to connect these non-linear dots for themselves. Give the team the opportunity to learn how to collaborate with each other.
Getting off-track isn’t necessarily disruptive or a negative. Engaging in discovery is not a slight to your authority or leadership. Breakthrough collaboration results when your team confidently understands that, as needed, the leadership baton may be passed to other members with subject-matter expertise to lead certain aspects of the project.
Your goal: Get everyone to the finish line, together. Time after time.
More collaboration tools can be found in Do YOU Mean Business? – available on Amazon.com.
Babette Ten Haken started out her career as a scientist. Early on, she was asked to bring clarity to the chaos of stalemated conversations between engineers, sales, IT, quality, legal and marketing folks. She focuses on building collaborative, innovative and profitable teams who are focused on excellence in the hand-off of strategy for execution.