An Assignment On Leading Through Teams

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Reshma T Kalpana M

A team comprises a group of people or animals linked in a common purpose. Teams are especially appropriate for conducting tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent subtasks. A team is made up of a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. An effective team has certain characteristics that allow the team members to function more efficiently and productively. An effective team develops ways to share leadership roles and ways to share accountability for their work products, shifting the emphasis from the individual to several individuals within the team. A team also develops a specific team purpose and concrete work products that the members produce together A group in itself does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize his or her strengths and minimize his or her weaknesses. Team size and composition affect the team processes and outcomes. The optimal size (and composition) of teams is debated and will vary depending on the task at hand. At least one study of problem-solving in groups showed an optimal size of groups at four members[1]. Other works estimate the optimal size between 5-12 members.[citation needed] Less than 5 members results in decreased perspectives and diminished creativity. Membership in excess of 12 results in increased conflict and greater potential of sub-groups forming.

Effective Team
Effective team building starts by establishing your team's core values and never breaking them.

The difficulty many people feel when they're working in a team setting comes from the fact that often they feel that the team's values don't reflect their own. The reason for this is that whether or not we admit it: "the world revolves around us." Our values define who we are. On a team, the collective values define the culture, good or bad, functional or dysfunctional, of that team. Great teams respect and closely share core values. On most teams, it seems, where conflict and animosity arise most often is when someone's values get trampled on.

Effective Team Building: The Common Traits of Successful Teams
Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable. ~ Dr. Joyce Brothers Commitment: Obviously, we don't want people on our team who are not dedicated to the process of building a great business. Commitment to the process, is the most valuable trait a team member can have. Commitment is the blood that breathes life into any team, it's the core of effective team building. Without commitment any actions you're team takes will be ineffective. Finding synergy is about getting everyone on the same page, commitment wise. Integrity: The core of all business. People's integrity defines nearly every aspect of their lives: their relationships, words, actions, and thoughts. All good things flow from the integrity of your team. People with high integrity can stay

committed to the core purpose of your team. Teams with integrity stand firm in the face of danger, their personality doesn't shrink in face of stress. Love: Great teams love themselves. Each member loves all the other members of the team. They innately understand that what the team achieves it achieves together. Even when two team members don't see eye-to-eye on something, they respect the other's opinion. A loving environment creates the seeds of success. Personal satisfaction and fulfillment occurs when teams feel comfortable, and people are able to be themselves. This is when a productive and stable team can emerge for you.

Strategies for Developing an Effective Team
. How does it work? Effective teams will have open-ended meetings and develop active problemsolving strategies that go beyond discussing, deciding, and delegating what to do; they do real work together. When necessary, individuals in a team will set aside their own work to assist other members of the team. In a well-functioning team, performance is based not on an individual member's ability to influence other members, but rather is assessed directly by measuring the work products of the whole team. Rewards based on the whole team's effort help underscore the importance of team responsibility. How to use it: There are several ways in which a supervisor can help clinic managers and staff become a strong team:

Establish objectives together: Define performance objectives with the team and make sure that all team members understand the objectives and what actions will need to be taken to achieve them.








Develop a participatory style: Encourage staff to suggest ways to improve services. Listen to their ideas and acknowledge their points of view. Encourage team members to discuss issues and to find solutions together. Focus on contributions: Define objectives for having all team members actively contribute to the meeting. Introduce team members to the ways in which they can participate. Organize meetings: Hold meetings with the whole team during supervisory visits. Discuss supervisory and clinic objectives and encourage the team to discuss their concerns. Organize the team: Define roles and responsibilities together. If everyone has a clear role, individuals will be less likely to become frustrated and will be more willing to work together. Agree on who will assume leadership roles for different team activities. Explain the rules: Discuss all norms and standards that have been established for this clinic by the Ministry or the organization. Explain the rationale for these rules and discuss their implications in day-to-day practice. Promote team responsibility: Encourage members of the clinic team to take responsibility for completing specific tasks and to solve problems as a team. Introduce rewards only if the entire team meets objectives. Establish time commitments: Schedule when and how each team member will devote time to team work. Determine if team work will require other staff to take on extra work, and, if so, discuss this with all staff and obtain their commitment. Monitor actual vs. planned time carefully and clarify all adjustments in schedule.

Seven Characteristics of an Effective Team
1. Team members share leadership roles 2. Team develops own scope of work 3. Team schedules work to be done and commits to taking time allotted to do work 4. Team develops tangible work products 5. Team members are mutually accountable for work products 6. Performance is based on achieving team products

7. Problems are discussed and resolved by the team

Add fun, build performance and improve team culture with Neil Oakes’ easy to implement, no nonsense strategies to: Improve the culture of your firm Generate trust Add an element of fun Achieve the necessary level of performance that high profit firms require. Client Relationship Management - practical approaches to gaining more work from your client Staff leverage remains one of the most significant drivers of profit in legal firms. Much has been said about the quantitative aspects of leverage but qualitative considerations are equally important. Having the right number of people is irrelevant if they are not productive. Increasingly, leadership is emerging as the most important differentiator between high performance law firms and their average competition. Again and again commentators are emphasizing the importance of organizational culture to attract talented people, to maximize their potential and to retain them. In smaller firms, partners are often the HR department, work getter, work doer, staff motivator, mentor, trainer and coach. Such firms find it difficult to implement a strategy of "culture improvement." Available time beats them. More often than not firm culture is left to chance. To assist partners in smaller firms, we would like to suggest the following easy to implement, no nonsense strategies. These strategies will improve the culture of your firm, generate trust, add an element of fun and achieve the necessary level of performance that high profit firms require.

1. Do unto others………. People are motivated by and strive for a fairly homogenous set of factors. Kindness, respect, recognition, inclusion, friendship and security are all important to most people. Exuding enthusiasm and initiative as a direct result of being lucky enough to have a job is uncommon to most people. Chances are that the keys to loyalty and motivation are to be found in kindness, respect, recognition, inclusion, friendship and security. Think about the business mentoring relationships that you enjoy the most. You can be sure that these mentors are people who exhibit the big three pillars of leadership. These are inspiration, enthusiasm and honesty. We all enjoy and value these traits. If you are leading a team of people, rate your performance in each of these three factors on the way home every night. Perhaps you might ask a trusted employee to act as a coach to help you improve. 2. Clearly defined structure with constant, honest feedback: Think about the involvement that parents of the 1950's and 60's had in their children's education. Contrast that level of involvement with the involvement of a 2002 parent. Parents these days would not dare miss a parent teacher night or sporting fixture. One even sees universities promoting parent/student information sessions. We would not have been seen dead at university with our parents. Parents of old were not necessarily bad parents but times have changed. Education is far more competitive than it used to be. When studying undergraduate degrees in the 70’s & 80’s, any grades greater than a credit represented a gross abuse of opportunity and cost of time. The candidates that most of us are employing now have been elite performers. Most will be assessed as being among the top 2% of their leaving year. These people have received constant feedback on performance for their entire life. Taking them out of such an environment and placing them in a legal firm where they crash to the bottom of the ladder over night and, at best, receive annual feedback on performance must alienate them. At very least it places them in an unfamiliar environment. These people need constant, honest and tactful feedback

on performance. The more capable they become the more they require a coach not a supervisor. A good coach helps people to bring out the best in themselves. A supervisor makes sure that people are doing what they are asked, and colouring within the lines. In our experience, happy, profitable teams usually have staff solicitors reporting to and taking instructions from one person. Rotation from team to team may be desirable early in one's career, but at any one time any lawyer should only report to one partner. This enables the management of workflow, management of work and client priority, team and relationship building, without forcing a lawyer to be an internal firm politician too early in their career. 3. Meet twice weekly to compose and review “To Do” lists with those you supervise: When we encounter staff solicitors who seem incapable of recording six hours of productive time every day, they usually point to insufficient, quality work, saying "I don't get enough of the correct type of work to enable me to record my budget." To manage this problem and to enable you to provide the desirable level of feedback, we suggest that you meet with all staff that you supervise, individually twice weekly to compose and review “To Do” lists. Review time sheets, activities completed, activities “To Do” and any assistance required. Remember your One Minute Manager - don't accept upward delegation without a struggle. Short-term goals, measurement and instant feedback will improve communication, throughput of work and practitioner skill levels. Don't forget that you are the coach. This process helps you and helps your staff. It should not be a discipline tool. 4. Constantly listen for opportunities to review and improve systems and processes: Formal staff meetings are difficult, suggestion boxes are worse and prizes for the best idea seem to loose their attraction after a while. Constant incremental

improvement seems to work. To this end partners need to remain ever vigilant. Walk around and listen for ideas. They may often be accompanied by a sigh or expressed as a frustration but there might be a spark for improvement in any comment. Be prepared to workshop complaints over morning tea or lunch with a few of the team and resolve them the same day that they arise. Show people that you are serious about finding opportunities to improve. Follow up any new or altered approach to ensure that it is working as well as was envisaged. Celebrate all small victories with appropriate genuine praise for all involved. 5. Regularly lunch with the whole team: People will no longer work well for you because they have to, most do not. Fear, as a motivator, ceased to work when the demand for talent outweighed the supply. People will only work to their full potential if they want to. They will only want to if they like you. Social engagement is essential if you want someone to like you. We like our friends to like us. We like them to show interest in our lives, we like them to stay in touch, to share a joke and to lend support. Lunch is a great time to get together as equals out of the office. Alternatively, bring a sandwich and eat in the staff room with the whole team. It’s amazing how many firms still have exclusive partners' lunches. 6. Encourage staff to improve the business by sharing success: The easiest way to get staff to focus on business improvement is to let them share in the benefits. Incorporation of legal practices or profit sharing through the firm's service entity may make this possible. Alternatively, a six monthly salary bonus can be paid to staff depending on business performance. The best bonus schemes are linked to organizational performance, not individual performance. The simpler the scheme the better. Our accountant has a good system. He sets an appropriate level of total gross fees to provide both an adequate

return to owners and funds for future capital investment. 30% of any gross fees in excess of this amount go into the profit share pot. All staff share pro-ratered according to salaries, full time, part time, fee earners and support - all participate. This year his receptionist will earn an extra $15,000. In a small firm, performance bonuses like this one will help to remove that awful "bosses verses the workers" nonsense. 7. Encourage business performance culture by sharing information: If we want people to think and act as business improvers, we will have to share information with them about the success of the organization. One suggestion is sharing monthly profit and loss figures, gross fees billed and relative team performance. Do not discuss individual performance publicly nor, of course, individuals salaries. 8. Have quarterly partners' retreats to retain strategic focus and build a learning culture from the top of the organization: Firms who wish to drive the improvement process at best practice pace need to dedicate time to planning, review and action. If they are well run, regular partner strategic retreats provide the necessary environment and focus to drive a practice forward, align the business values of all partners and stakeholders and motivate partners to embrace improvement strategies. 9. Have a party twice a year, one with significant others, one without: Most people love a party. It does not need to be too expensive. A backyard BBQ will probably achieve the same team building result as a posh restaurant. 10. Involve the whole team in staff selection: An ability to fit into the team, to add to it and to share team values must be a critical part of the selection process. Involve some of your lawyers, senior and junior, and some of your support staff. If people are involved in making the selection then they have some ownership and incentive to make the appointment a success. Contemporary research suggests that jobs that are challenging to obtain are more highly valued and experience lower rates of attrition. Several interviews with

different people are therefore appropriate. Partners do not have to embrace all or any of these strategies to survive or to be average. If, however, you are interested in attracting talent, retaining talent and evolving your firm from adequate to great then give it a go.

Continuous Improvement Strategies to Build Your Desired Culture
What is involved in attaining successful improvement activities that will allow you to build and maintain your desired culture? We all understand the need to measure results; particularly revenue, cost, productivity and budget. For the most part organizations are disciplined in developing strategies and action plans to improve these results. However, few organizations plan improvement activities based on their desired culture. Why? First, developing plans targeting financial and productivity targets can be much more tangible than culture related improvements. Second, writing a list of values is a relatively easy exercise; while implementing them takes significant effort. We currently work with two companies that have, over time, come to truly understand what's involved in building a desired culture. One is a very young company that has a definite advantage in building their work culture, while the other has established itself through generations of owners. The established company has had to be very realistic about the amount of change accomplished each year but have, essentially, followed the same types of improvement activities as the younger company in their pursuit of creating a new culture that matches their stated values. Each company followed the same model to define their mission, vision, and values, and then developed their business practices, leadership practices, and employee behaviors to support each value.

Each company has values related to the customer, their people (team), business success (profitability, growth, …), and continuous improvement. They have a couple of slightly different values after those. At the end of the first year they came into their planning process and had to challenge themselves on how well they actually developed and changed their culture. Although they each had a lot of successes, changing a culture, particularly an existing one, is challenging. One of the interesting things that happened over the year was that each management team felt they owned the improvement process. They measured the results. They developed a set of improvement goals. They planned changes to improve the results. And, for the most part, they were responsible for implementing the changes. Although management teams have a huge role in improving business results and the culture, we had to remind each organization that the continuous improvement process doesn't spring from only management. When we get to the top of the model, the degree to which people throughout the organization are involved in coming up with the ideas, planning them and being involved in implementing those plans makes a huge difference in successfully attaining the desired business results or culture change. In order to get people involved in the improvement process, it becomes critical that one of the key leadership behaviors is to find ways that build trust throughout the organization and get people engaged in their work environment. Just last week we had a debate in a leadership training session at a company trying

to incorporate their values throughout their organization. The team was identifying all of the items that would likely need to improve or change if they were to truly live up to their stated values. As the exercise was finishing and they were going on break, some of the leaders were talking about getting together to plan changes. I asked them who would be involved in the process and they said it would be the management team. After the break we talked about how to bring people from across the organization into the discussion and eventual planning and implementation. The improvement process in an organization involves looking at the current results, understanding the criteria for success (matched with mission, vision, values), and then coming up with the plans and actions to implement. It's important to recognize that if you are looking to improve a tangible business result or the culture, involvement is the key in any continuous improvement process. Management involvement is important, but it's not necessarily an indicator of successful change. To have success with your improvement process the following should be considered:

• •

Does your organization adequately measure what is important for the business and culture (values) – do your measures promote the right behaviors for the culture? Does the business planning process involve more than just management? At what level of the organization is business planning and business improvement done? Is there an improvement process that people really use and contribute ideas for improvement? Is it easy to provide new ideas? Does anyone actively ask for the ideas and do something with them? Does the organization place value on people being involved and help free them up from daily duties to help implement change? For people to know the values and culture are important, how much does the organization communicate the values and what is being worked on? Can people see success with the changes the organization has said they would

work on in the past?

Both of the organizations in this example now understand the true nature of continuous improvement. They ensure a high level of involvement from all levels of the organization during their business planning, and while reviewing their success in living their values. Their people have become quite honest with what needs to be worked on, but are also very realistic about what the business can afford and how much at any one time can be worked on. By focusing on the above points first, one organization had 500 suggestions from their people and the other had over 800 last year. These numbers do not include the ideas that were developed during the business planning process. Although a number of ideas were not feasible, there were about 10% that had merit and were worked on. Of the number of suggestions that were worked on, about 50% were relatively easy to do and about 10% provided significant business savings or improvement for the organization. In addition to following the points listed above for attaining greater involvement in the improvement process, each company developed a specific continuous improvement process that had the following characteristics:
• • • • • • • •

All suggestions went to a team looking at all of the suggestions, not to a person’s direct supervisor. All suggestions were coded for the Key Result Area or Value it would improve. The suggestions were able to be submitted by paper or online. The suggestions were viewable by everyone online once the improvement team viewed them. The status of all suggestions were kept up-to-date in the online database. Each person that submitted an idea received a personal notification that the idea was received and how to see its status. For ideas that required a team to work on them, the person who suggested the idea was asked to be on the team. Recognition of implemented ideas was done privately and the person was asked if they would allow their name to be mentioned at places like a

General Meeting or in the company newsletter.

A nominal monetary recognition was provided for implemented ideas, regardless of the value it provided the organization.

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