How does your team work best?

Thematic Goals for Effective TEAMS

From what I see in the work I do in organizations, a key to success for effective teamwork lies in a clearly defined foundation. Team members work together better when they have a compelling reason to do so.

Patrick Lencioni in Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Jossey-Bass, 2005) advises team members to identify a “thematic goal” that answers the following question:

What is the single most important goal that we must achieve during this period if we are to consider ourselves successful?

Examples of thematic goals include:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Control expenses
  • Increase market awareness
  • Launch a new product
  • Strengthen the team
  • Rebuild the infrastructure
  • Grow market share

Choosing a thematic goal doesn’t mean that other goals are ignored. A thematic goal ensures that every team member emphasizes a core priority, thereby creating team alignment, minimizing paralysis and frustration, and avoiding a collective silo mentality (i.e., hoarding information).

Here’s a way to remember some key essentials of effective teams. Effective teams excel in the following functional areas:

T = Trust (shared vulnerability and empathy)

E = Engagement (shared goals, commitment and debate)

A = Accountability (personal and peer-to-peer conversations)

M = Metrics (focus on the right measurements for the right results)

It may seem silly sometimes, but devising an acronym to summarize key principles does help you remember them. The four principles that comprise the TEAM acronym are important to keep in mind if you’re evaluating the performance of your team.

If there’s a gap in any of these key principles, it’s easier to spot and correct. Of course, it’s over-simplified.

Trust is the foundational piece that will continually need reinforcing. It’s never “one and done.”

Engagement is actually a result of how well people are committed to both the goals and each other. Team members work well together when they have opportunities to share their ideas and opinions, and debate is welcome.

Members don’t work well when conflict is avoided and consensus wins out over innovation and creativity.

Accountability between peers happens when there is a solid foundation of trust and open debate. People are more willing to follow through with their commitments. A culture of accountability develops whereby colleagues give each other feedback, both positive and corrective.

Metrics: The final piece of the team pyramid is the tracking of progress and results through a system. Whatever system is used to show who does what by when, it must be frequently updated and accessible at all times.

Simple but not easy to maintain. But hopefully, it’s a help for taking a look at how well your team is working together. What do you think?

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