On the Same Page: Influencing Commitment on a Team

by Libby Wagner on June 18, 2012

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Myers-Briggs®, ropes courses, maybe even volunteering together—team building exercises seem infinite. And admittedly, some of these sound interesting or even fun, right?

Yet the mere mention of any of these exercises can create an urge to run in the other direction.

Come on! Shouldn’t teams who have fun together be able to work together better? Not necessarily.

None of these are a bad idea in general, but they won’t get you a great team. What they might do is enhance a team’s interactions, or create memories, and camaraderie.

But the real work of building teams comes in creating real projects where they have to:

  • interact,
  • collaborate,
  • resolve issues,
  • get real results,
  • be accountable for their outcomes, and
  • become interdependent.

Creating Teams

If you want your group of people to behave like a team, then you need to make sure they’ve got the infrastructure to do that. Here’s a 5-step process that can be helpful in setting up strong teams. Some of them sound simple, so obvious, that it’s easily dismissed as unimportant, but making these small changes can have a dramatic effect.

1. Clarify the goal

It is essential in your leadership and in your influencing effectiveness to have a clearly articulated vision. Any team different from the executive team of an organization has a sort of “sub” vision that contributes to the overall organization. Individual members have specific tasks, but the sum total of the responsibilities must lead to something clear.

2. Check for alignment

If the individual can clearly see that to work toward meeting the team goals is to help him/herself, and the team can see that to work toward the organizational goals is to help the team—you have alignment. It’s a great way to get multiple career values and relationships working together

3. Create a Team Agreement

Creating a Team Agreement is one of the most effective, most powerful processes you can do. And this step can tie together your goal and align your team in a concrete way.

4. Clear the swamp

“Clearing the swamp” helps teams identify, assess and deal with issues and obstacles that get in the way of high performance. For effective swamp-clearing, make sure it’s not a onetime process. Instead set a time frame to assess and reassess, using a data chart that looks something like this:

Issue or Obstacle Can we influence it? Is it worth it?

5. Create action and accountability

Discuss everything in your swamp-clearing chart and prioritize, voting on the most important matters. Make up action steps and follow through on them, finding ways to hold people accountable. Plan to come back in six months or a year… and mean it!

Building great teams is formidable, but keep in mind – there’s nothing more powerful than a highly dynamic, resilient, creative team. By using your resources and actions wisely, you will build a team that’s on the same page rather than a group with everyone just going through the motions. Effectiveness will be the result!

Creative Commons LicenseFlickr image courtesy of: Jeff Wasson 

Libby Wagner of Libby Wagner & Associates, is one of only a handful of published poets regularly welcomed into the boardroom. Author of the new book The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business (Global Professional Publishing), she has been labeled The Influencing Coach™ by her clients.

Her expertise in leadership, strategy, management, and executive team development helps organizations create environments where clarity and increased trust lead to unrivaled results, shaping such Fortune 500 cultures as Boeing, Nike, Philips and Costco. Find out more at http://www.libbywagner.com/

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