With the field cleared of rubble , it was now time to introduce the concept of alignment to the group , using the key factors as the point of departure . Discussion centered around the fact that high-performance teamsteams that score 4s and 5s on the questionnaireare aligned in all four key areas: goals, roles/responsibilities, protocols, and business relationships, and that such alignment is key to successfully working through conflict and attaining expected business results. The group also discussed the four stages that teams need to go through to achieve high performance. The team-development wheel was used to summarize the attributes of each stage. This exercise provided an understanding of both the dynamics of team development and an end point on which the team could train its sights.
Next, Art's team looked objectively at the data, pretending that it was merely a business case in which they had no personal stake. The team was divided into small groups, with each one considering five questionsfour based on the data and the fifth on their gut feeling:
What are some of the adjectives that you would use to describe this team?
What is the main message or story that comes through about this team?
What are the obvious issues that this team needs to resolve?
Where would you place this team on the team-development wheel?
What will happen to this team if, five months from now, it has not changed?
The groups then reassembled to share their conclusions:
They had described the team as tentative, defensive, parochial, conflict-averse, frustrated, unclear, ineffective , conflicted, and avoiding real issues.
Several messages had been identified, including:
The team agrees, philosophically, on the need for teamwork, but it does not know how to begin working toward that goal.
It is like an all-star team that cannot agree on either the game or the game plan.
It is a collection of parts waiting to be put together by someone else.
Critical issues facing this team had been identified as:
The need to starting relying on one another/collaborating
The need to trust one another more
The need to enhance their listening skills
A lack of shared accountability on team goals
The need to improve the way they dealt with conflict, especially to make it a priority to address issues instead of allowing them to fester
The need to become comfortable with candor
Two of the groups had placed the team in stage one of the team-development wheel; the third had placed it in stage two.
The groups had stated their belief that if, in five months, the team did not change:
Its credibility with the rest of the organization and its ability to meet its goals would be in severe jeopardy.
If the same team members remained, the status quo would continue; if the players changed, the situation would worsen.
The company might consider reorganizing the R&D team, and the new model might give them less authority and autonomy.
The activities we've described are not academic exercises or sharing-and-caring hot-tub encounters. They are a tough-minded, introspective, important first step in changing the way teams think about themselves . For what is often the first time, individual team members begin thinking about the team as a cohesive social unit. They begin to see the implications of their own behavior on that of the group. They begin to realize exactly how much is at stake. And they begin to buy into the need for change.
Depersonalizing is easy to accept in theory but difficult to achieve in reality. So much of our self-definition and sense of self-worth can be shattered when others judge us negatively. During the course of an alignment, team members give one another feedback on their behavior, attitude, and style. They speak their mind and unload their baggage without sparing one another's feelings. It is not a pleasant experience. It can be tense, uncomfortable, and at times downright ugly. But it is also liberating.