Teams follow a predictable pattern when they start up, whether they are a wholly-formed new team or a team that simply has a new member. They want four questions answered:
- Why are we here? (which speaks to the team’s purpose)
- Who are you? (which speaks to creating a sense of connection and trust)
- What are we doing? (which speaks to goal clarification)
- How are we going to do it? (which speaks to role clarification)
You can read more about this pattern in the book Visual Teams by David Sibbet. Answer these four questions and you can reduce the time it takes to move from tentative to terrific. But how?
Here’s an approach that answers those four questions and accelerates a team’s performance in just 3 hours. This approach has been used with hundreds of teams across the globe, from executive ranks to first-line supervisors, and has been a catalyst in helping teams realize their potential more quickly.
FastStart: Getting New Teams Up & Running
- Overall Purpose: To drive connection and clarity early on
- Key Goals:
- Get to know one another
- Establish the team’s purpose, values, and ground rules
- Clarify team’s common goals and roles of team members
Getting to Know One Another – Four Quadrants
- Give each team member a piece of flip chart paper. Have each person divide their paper into 4 quadrants.
- Ask them to draw one picture in each quadrant to describe the following:
- Their job
- Their passion or hobby
- A key strength they bring to the team
- Something others would find surprising about them
- No words can be used; only pictures
- Allow about 20 minutes for everyone to complete their quadrants
- Have each team member talk through their visual. This is where you really see the personality of each person come through and where the team tends to have the most fun; you should go first to model your willingness to put yourself out there a bit and have some fun.
- An important tip: You, as the leader, should set this up; if the team experiences you as actively engaged around this first exercise, it will produce stronger outcomes for the meeting.
Team’s Purpose and Ground Rules
- Depending on the size of the group, you can decide whether it makes sense to break the team into two sub-teams. You could have each sub-team address both the purpose and the ground rules, have each sub-team discuss only one topic, or have the entire team work together on both. It is your call, depending on what you think would be best for your particular team.
- For the team’s purpose, have the team answer questions such as:
- What are we here to do?
- What is our reason for being?
- What do we want to be about?
- What do we want to accomplish?
- For the ground rules conversation, have team members identify the way they want to work with each other, answering questions such as:
- What operating principles do we want to have?
- How do we want to make decisions?
- How often do we want to meet?
- What do we want our communication flow to be?
- Discuss the output of the work and align as a team on the team’s purpose and ground rules.
Top 3 Goals/Top 3 Challenges
- This is an opportunity for you to both provide your perspective on the key goals and challenges the team faces over the next 6-12 months and to get input from the team.
- Sit down so that this part of the agenda has a more conversational than presentational feel.
- Share your top three goals, your top three challenges, and some context for these points.
- Engage the group in a conversation about their reactions, questions, and thoughts about the goals and challenges. Also ask if there are any they would add.
- At the end of the conversation, ask the team to identify the next actions for the goals and challenges, the point people for those actions, and the timing.
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