Consider three “Whys” for taking professional ownership of team ideas:
- Why do individual team members feel so strongly about their ideas regarding an outcome or a goal to be accomplished?
- Why throw an idea out on the table if you are not willing to support it?
- Why introduce a provocative idea if your purpose only is to disrupt workflow rather than engage and collaborate?
Team outcomes target consensus-building or at least buy-in to support what is proposed. The objective of team dynamics is clarification of everyone’s position.
That model is the ideal. Then there is the reality of unremarkable or dysfunctional team dynamics. Have you ever been there? More than once?
Consider this scenario. Sound familiar?
It’s not much fun leading or participating in teams when:
- Way too many people are involved in decision making;
- Individuals dominate the conversation, regardless of the relevance or value of their expertise;
- Certain members always are AWOL; and
- Valuable members shrink into the background because they are frustrated or intimidated.
These status quo team dynamics play out on a daily basis throughout the workforce. They are productivity-drains.
Regardless of whether you are a team leader or a follower: create a team charter based on taking professional ownership of team ideas. Provide a pathway to team clarity and remarkable outcomes.
Something interesting happens when team members take professional ownership of their ideas.
- Introspective about the root causes of levels of commitment to an idea or a position.
- More or less committed to their own positions.
- Discerning as they prioritize ideas they remain most committed to supporting.
- Appreciative of the respective positions of other team members.
- Clearer about why and where they stand.
Taking professional ownership of your ideas allows you to explore the historical baggage in your work experience that colors your reactions to and interpretation of the data being presented. You conduct your own situational analysis of why you feel so strongly about a tactical approach to solve a problem or a strategy to lead an initiative or a timeline in which to accomplish team goals. You dissect why you enjoy collaborating with some team members and why there is no chemistry when working with others.
Now consider that everyone on your team brings their own biases and baggage to the table every time you work together. It’s just that many of these talented individuals do not take the time to fully explore how their “stuff” impacts their ability to participate productively with other team members. Give them permission to take that time.
Encourage team members to take professional ownership of their ideas. Give them permission, at least offline, to do some introspective digging. Often, sticking points preventing teams from reaching consensus – or at least supporting a decision – are rooted in:
- Confidence in competence: do team members lack confidence in their competence but are unwilling to ask for help?
- Semantic ambiguity: is the professional language of respective team members readily understood by other team members?
- Cultural differences (country of origin or professional discipline): do team members have an Us versus Them bias which creates a barrier to cross-functional collaboration?
- Straight up toxic stuff: are team dynamics negatively impacted because of historically bad karma between specific members?
When teams assume professional ownership of their respective ideas, an interesting outcome occurs. The team creates the team’s own ideas. They collectively take professional ownership of their team’s ideas.
Are you experiencing difficulty with a team you are a member of? Have you extracted a nugget or two out of this post which is helpful in getting your team unstuck? Let me know your thoughts.
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring and developing collaborative technical and non-technical employees. As a sales newbie, Babette walked into her first manufacturing plant – a slaughterhouse in Oklahoma – over 25 years ago. She fell in love with manufacturing. She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, focusing teams on creating enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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