Creating Great Teams – Destroying Terrible Meetings: Characteristics Great Teams
Posted on April 19, 2019
Let’s continue our Creating Great Teams -Destroying Terrible Meeting series this week by looking at the characteristics of great teams. While relationships are the cornerstone of any team, they are also just the beginning. Teams can get along great but accomplish little. Specific characteristics are necessary for teams with good, interpersonal relationships to perform at an elevated level. Let’s review this research (Lencioni, 2002).
Shared Purpose: For teams to perform at their best they must understand what their purpose and why it is crucial. Many people hate going to meetings or serving on committees because they don’t know what they are trying to accomplish or why the meeting even exists. If you can’t verbalize why your team is meeting…why meet? In high-performing teams, every member understands what the team is trying to accomplish and why the work is important.
Results Oriented: When people attend, they are giving up time they could be spending in their classrooms, grading papers, lesson planning, or spending time with their families. To keep morale high and motivation within the team, it is vital that people feel that the time they are investing accomplishes something meaningful. A team without goals can be easily sidetracked and can lose momentum. A focused team has a set of agreed-upon goals and members work together to accomplish them.
Commitment: A committed team has both focus and collective ownership of the team’s goals and results. When a team is committed people look forward to attending meetings, complete assigned tasks, and genuinely enjoy the team process and their fellow team members. Commitment does not mean that a team will achieve all their goals on the first try. Instead, commitment provides the resiliency necessary to keep working until they succeed.
Accountability: Accountability is a critical component of the performing stage of team dynamics. Accountability is a mixture of healthy relationships and commitment. If someone doesn’t follow through, the team confronts them in a supportive way, focused on getting tasks completed and not holding up the team process. A high-performing team will put a healthy amount of pressure on its members to excel so the team can accomplish their collective goals.
Celebrate: Too often celebrations are overlooked and undervalued. When a team accomplishes a goal, it should not go right into the next one without taking time to acknowledge their success and honor the work done. Besides honoring accomplished work, celebrations motivate the team and increase morale for future goals.
Collaboration: High performing teams ensure that everyone feels heard and their voice and expertise is valued. While members of the team will take on different roles, it is critical that every member feel empowered to add value to the process. Many teams get dominated by a few vocal members who gain too much power and control which lowers the overall productivity of the team and decreases morale (Lencioni, 2002).
I feel this needs to be a required reading for management in many different fields. Too often have I been subjected to or known peers that have to participate in the “Meeting that should have been an e-mail”. In my experience, meetings have frequently been only for management to announce information or changes. It is less efficient than just sending out the e-mails with required reading components. A good manager I had in the past stopped this practice for her team. She would send out this information in an e-mail format with a checklist of the items we had to initial next to, then sign and turn in. She would have an open door policy to questions regarding anything announced.
Results oriented meetings are energetic and feel less like a chore/ time to play on the phone. I have had opportunities to serve on “committees” at previous jobs (and there was incentive to do so for “points” towards merit raises), but most of these committees didn’t seem to have a clear focus of why they were meeting and often their suggestions to higher ups were ignored, so no results. Why waste your time on fruitless efforts?
I hope that more and more organizations, private or government, will adopt some of these principles you’ve outlined.
Thanks so much, Joshua! I couldn’t agree more, I really believe we waste too many hours on ineffective and unnecessary meetings. If they only wasted our time, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, the frustration and time suck of these meetings contribute to the already high levels of burnout in our fields.