Throughout your internship, you will likely be working closely with other people in the organization, either as a member of a team or perhaps as an internal consultant. In either case, your capability to communicate and work effectively will be tested. The following exercise will help you become more aware of and practiced with a variety of necessary soft skills. You will perform some self-evaluations and reflect on the material presented. Areas covered in the readings may include team process, team leadership, communication, active listening/questioning, individual responsibility to the team, personal initiative, and others.
Located in the Purdue Global Library is an ebook entitled Teamwork: 20 Steps to Success. For this assignment, read each chapter, then select five areas that you feel are important to a successful team.
Reflect on the information contained in the selected readings. Compare the ideas, concepts, and skills with your own experience (both past experience and your current internship work).
Explain how your experiences are the same as or different from the material presented in the readings. Describe areas where your current team process and/or personal practice is less than optimal and could be improved by implementing one or more of the ideas under consideration. Highlight how you can make use of any of the ideas presented to improve your results in the workplace.
EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/23/2022 9:49 PM via PURDUE UNIVERSITY GLOBAL
AN: 320157 ; Parker, Glenn M..; Teamwork : 20 Steps to Success
20 Steps to Success
Volume I of The Parker Team Series
“Successful teamwork requires doing lots of ‘unspectacular little
things,’ such as having a clear purpose, building effective relation-
ships, honoring your commitments, and an obsessive concern for
– Glenn Parker
H R D P r e s s , I n c . • A m h e r s t • M a s s a c h u s e t t s
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Copyright © 2009, Glenn Parker
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or
by information storage and retrieval system, without written
permission from the publisher.
Published by: HRD Press, Inc.
22 Amherst Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Editorial Services: Robert W. Carkhuff
Production Services: Jean S. Miller
Cover Design: Eileen Klockars
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START WITH TEAM GOALS.
here does a team begin…and end? It all begins with a goal.
Call it a vision, a mission, a purpose, a charter, as long as
the team has a clear sense of where it’s going.
Goals provide the overall direction for the team, and are often
sketched out by senior management. It is then up to the team to
translate those goals into specific performance objectives, such
as “Reduce the December reject rate by 25 percent” or “Increase
the customer satisfaction rating for 2008 by 10 percent” or
“Reduce the waiting time for patients in the emergency room to
10 minutes by June 30, 2008.”
When it comes time to measure the team’s success, we return
to our goals again. If the team’s goal is to produce such-and-such
new product with such and such specifications by the third
quarter of this year, how will you know the results? Did the team
meet its timetable? Include all the required specifications? Stay
within the budget? Objectives become the scoreboard, because
they tell us how we’re doing. So, first and foremost, a team has to
begin with a good, solid goal.
A team goal is a clear, specific statement of
the desired outcome. All team goals should
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PECIFIC: The outcome or end result is very clear to
EASURABLE: You can tell if you have achieved your goal
because you can count it or see it.
TTAINABLE: While achieving the outcome may be a
challenge, it is possible with current team resources.
ELEVANT: The objective is in line with the direction
provided by senior management, and supports the strategy
of the business.
IME-BOUND: All goals must be achieved within a particular
time period such as by the end of the third quarter or by a
specific date such as June 30.
Quick Team Check:
Are all your team goals SMART?
Does your team have a set of clear objectives to reach
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road
will take you there.”
– Chinese Proverb
SELECT THE RIGHT PEOPLE.
Most team problems and even most downright team failures can
be eliminated if some thought is given to who should be on the
team. Most of the time, we just accept the hand we’ve been dealt.
A team leader will usually be told, “We want you to solve this
problem by this date, and here are the people we want you to
work with.” Little or no thought is given to the people selected
for the team, other than that they might have the skills and
expertise needed to solve the problem. However, skills and exper-
tise are not the only factors to be considered—in fact, studies of
successful and unsuccessful teams clearly show that teams don’t
fail because they lack technical expertise—they usually fail
because of such people problems as conflict among team
members, poor leadership, lack of involvement and commitment
by team members, and ineffective meetings.
Senior management sponsors and team leaders who are
responsible for selection should look for people who have suffi-
cient technical skills, but more importantly, they should also:
Be willing and able to share their expertise with others.
Feel comfortable with and enjoy working with others in
Communicate ideas, information, and opinions clearly and
Remain open to new ideas, different points of view, and
feedback from others.
Complete all work assignments on time (show that they’re
Support and work to implement all team decisions.
Raise questions and concerns about the team’s goals, meth-
ods, and problems.
Pitch in and help other team members.
It Takes Time But It’s Worth It
A large pharmaceutical company started a major initiative to
reduce so-called “cycle time”—the time it takes to get a product
produced and delivered to the customer. It took a team
approach, and set-up teams that included representatives from
operations, quality control, materials management, marketing,
logistics, and purchasing. It was felt that the people closest to
the key stages of the “cycle” would have the most knowledge
about ways to reduce the time from raw materials to the final
Senior management sponsors wanted the teams to be com-
posed of technical whizzes who were team players. As a result,
they talked with department heads and made it clear that they
were not interested in just warm bodies to fill slots on the
team—they wanted team players! Later, when they assessed
the program, team selection was identified as one of the key
success factors. And while senior leaders admitted that it took
some extra time to get the right people, they believed that it
was well worth it, because the teams succeeded in dramatically
reducing cycle time and significantly increasing that all-impor-
tant cash flow.
“Our objective ought to be to have a good
army, rather than a large one.”
– George Washington
DEFINE EVERYONE’S ROLE.
Once the team’s goals are set, it will be time to define the roles of
everyone on the team. Careful role clarification can eliminate or
at least minimize conflicts down the road. While everyone has a
defined role as a member of the team, all teams have certain
common functions that need to be filled. Assignments to these
roles do not need to be permanent; in fact, many successful
teams rotate these roles from time to time.
TEAM LEADER: Elected or appointed, the team leader ensures that
the work gets done by coordinating task assignments, providing
resources, managing outside contacts, as well as being a contrib-
uting team member.
TEAM FACILITATOR: The team facilitator can be the team leader or
an outside expert. He or she manages the discussion and guides
the decision-making process of the team by getting everyone in-
volved, keeping things on track, resolving conflicts, summarizing
ideas, and identifying what needs to be decided.
TEAM RECORDER: Sometimes called a scribe, the recorder records
the team’s decisions, action items, and other information in notes
or formal minutes. This information is used to summarize the
meeting, and serves as a permanent record and reminder to all
members of team actions and decisions.
TEAM SPONSOR/CHAMPION: The sponsor is generally a manager
who charters the team, provides the initial goals, authorizes
resources, removes barriers, monitors team progress, and
supports the team throughout its work.
TEAM COACH: As the name implies, this person is the team’s men-
tor, advisor, and trainer who works with the leader and team
members, but does not direct the team.
Some organizations do not have the luxury of having each of
these roles filled by a different person. The team leader often
wears the facilitator’s hat, but the facilitator might also have to
be the scribe and the sponsor might have to serve as the team’s
We haven’t forgotten the members of the team. Each indi-
vidual has a role that is based on what they’re expected to
contribute to the team.
What is expected of individual team members? Mature
teams that get derailed find this exercise a good way to get
back on track and prevent problems down the road:
Ask each team member to answer these questions. Then set
aside some time to discuss everyone’s answers.
What do you think you are expected to contribute to this
What do you think other team members do not
understand about your role?
What type of help do you need from other team members
in order to carry out your role successfully?
“The world is not interested in how many storms you
encountered, but whether you brought in the ship.”
EMPOWER THE TEAM.
What is often forgotten in much of the discussion about the
amount of authority a team should be given is the importance of
speed and empowerment. Speed is a competitive advantage: The
more a team is empowered to act, the quicker that a customer
request will be filled, the sooner that new idea will get to the
market, and the faster that product will come off the line. That
translates into customer satisfaction, market share, cash flow,
sales, and profits.
Empowerment typically refers to the authority given to a team
or individual to make decisions about certain defined aspects of
their work without checking with anyone. Some managers are not
comfortable delegating important decisions, and some team
members lack the confidence to take on more responsibility.
Therefore, it’s important that the sponsor and the team discuss
the authority the team is being given as it relates to the work.
Here are some questions for discussion:
What kinds of decisions is the team empowered to make on
What kinds of decisions will be made jointly by the team
and the sponsor?
What kinds of decisions will be made by the sponsor or
other manager, with input from the team?
What kinds of decisions will be made solely by the sponsor
or other manager?
Do whatever it takes.
A considerable amount of time and effort goes into selecting
the right people for a project team, but the success of the team
will depend on many things, including the motivation and
commitment of each individual member. Empowering the team
is key to keeping it motivated and challenged. One mid-size
publishing company on the West Coast found a successful road
to team empowerment that made managers and team members
all feel comfortable. Each project team developing new prod-
ucts, enhancing existing products, or preparing new business
strategies was required to produce a detailed project plan. The
plan included specific objectives, a detailed time table, and a
Each team’s plan was reviewed with the team’s sponsor and
revised regularly so it conformed to overall corporate guide-
lines. However, once the plan was approved, the team was
empowered to “do whatever it takes to accomplish the plan.”
The sponsor’s role was to provide all the necessary support.
For this organization, empowerment gave teams the freedom to
act, as long as it was within the context of an approved plan.
“Managers fear losing control, but employees very
seldom ‘push the button.’ Knowing that they could is
what counts. It makes them feel respected, trusted, and
– Frank Navran
OPEN YOUR TALENT BANK.
Teams need talent. They need skills, knowledge, and what is now
referred to as “emotional intelligence” to get the job done. You
can’t have a high-performing team with low-talent team members.
Most teams have the talent—in fact they have more talent
than they realize. Teams are like individuals—they rarely work up
to their potential and rarely use all or even most of their expertise.
We like to put people in boxes and keep them there. It’s easier
to pigeonhole a person in one slot than to think that they might
have a variety of talents. If you’re an accountant, you’re a “bean
counter” and thus can’t possibly know anything about customer
service, right? And if you’re from human resources, you’re one of
those “touchy-feely” types who have never run a real business. If
you’re an engineer, you have to “go by the book,” so there’s no
way you have the flexibility to consider a new and daring product
idea. And on and on…you get the idea.
The really effective teams open a talent bank that brings out
the past experiences, underutilized skills, and specialized
knowledge of team members.
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you
– Wayne Gretsky
Inventory Your Team Talent
Try this exercise to inventory the talent on your team: Have
team members “interview” each other and record what they say
in response to these questions:
1. Talk about your past work experiences—the types of jobs,
projects, and companies you’ve had some experience with.
2. Tell me about your past team experiences—the types of
teams you’ve been on, team roles you’ve played, as well as
the successful and unsuccessful team experiences you’ve
3. Describe your operational skills—the things you can do,
equipment you can operate, and systems you can use.
4. Describe your specialized knowledge—the information you
have and education you’ve completed.
5. Tell me about the interpersonal skills you possess and can
use (emotional intelligence).
Share this information with the other team members and the
sponsor. It can then be used to develop the team plan and make
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately
– Albert Einstein
APPRECIATE STYLE DIFFERENCES.
Most of us like to be around people just like ourselves. We look
for people who “fit in”—people who are “our kind of folks.” When
we form teams, we think it will be smoother and therefore better
if everyone on the team is the same kind of person. We tend not
to want people who make waves, approach problems from a
different angle, or think outside of the box.
Good teams have some diversity—diversity in technical skills,
yes, but most importantly diversity in ways of thinking, values,
priorities, and approaches—in a word, style. Style is the way you go
about solving a problem, making a decision, communicating an
idea, or resolving a conflict. Role is what you do, style is how you
Diversity prevents teams from lapsing into groupthink.
What is groupthink? Groupthink can be defined as a pattern
of thought in which people conform to group values and ethics
through self-deception. This first-person account of an actual
team meeting shows what can happen when the pressure is on
not to rock the boat:
“At one point during the meeting, the president
asked: ‘How’s morale around here?’ The first person
to respond was the vice-president, who was sitting to
the left of the president. He said that on a scale of 1
to 10, he would rate morale an 8. The remainder of
the vice-presidents responded with a 7 or 8. When
my turn came, I wanted to tell the truth and say 3
or 4, but I didn’t have the courage.”
Different Team Player Styles
CONTRIBUTOR: A person who focuses on the immediate
task of the team, believes that information is critical, sets
high performance standards, and can be depended on to
deliver work assignments on time.
COLLABORATOR: A goal-directed member who sees the
overall goal of the team as paramount. They are willing to
pitch in and help others in order to reach the goal and
support the strategy of the organization.
COMMUNICATOR: The team member who helps with team
process by facilitating, building a consensus, and creating
a supportive work environment.
CHALLENGER: The person who questions the goals, methods,
and actions of the team and pushes the team to take
Successful teams have a mix of all four styles.∗
∗ For more on team player styles, see Glenn Parker, Team Players and
Teamwork, 2nd ed., Wiley, 2008.
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to
failure is trying to please everyone.”
– Bill Cosby
Goals set down what the team wants to accomplish, and the
ground rules or norms establish how the team members want to
work together. Some teams call norms the “rules of the road” or
the “behavioral contract” for team members.
Norms or rules evolve over time into shared understandings
about what’s okay and what’s not okay to do. In most cases,
they’re not written down, but everyone understands that this is
how things are done. Norms that simply develop over time are
not always desirable. We have all been involved in groups where
it’s just understood that the meetings start late—people even
joke about it.
Effective teams develop a set of positive ground rules that all
members can support. This is worth emulating because members
are more likely to adhere to rules that they have had a hand in
Norms help a team in two ways:
1. Norms eliminate confusion by making clear to members
what is expected of them and what they can expect from
2. Norms serve as a basis for feedback when an individual’s
behavior becomes a problem. (“Carla, your interruptions
make it difficult for other members to express their
opinions or provide the information we need.”)
ESTABLISH GROUND RULES.
Here are some examples of norms presented in the form of a
team member agreement.
As a member of this team:
I will not interrupt a teammate when he or she is
expressing an idea, suggestion, or opinion.
I will show up on time for all meetings.
I will stay focused and help the team stay focused on the
topic and time.
I will be brief and to the point.
I will respond promptly to all requests within 24 hours of
I will be accountable, and will honor all my commitments.
I will support a team decision, even if I initially did not
agree with it.
“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”
– Katherine Hepburn
One signal that your team is effective is that you enjoy being
around the people. You actually want to come to team meetings.
You look forward to all associations and contacts with other
team members. Do you know what that feeling is like? Is it true
for your current team?
You know the feeling because you have had the opposite feel-
ing so many times. When you are part of a poorly functioning
team, your reaction to receiving the meeting notice is usually
something like “ugh.” You dread the team get-togethers and find
yourself looking for excuses to avoid meetings and other con-
tacts with team members.
A team with a positive climate bypasses formalities such as
rigid voting rules and raising hands before speaking. Humor
seems to be an integral part of successful teams. Members talk
about team meetings as “enjoyable” and “fun” and even “a lot of
laughs.” When the environment is relaxed and informal, team
members feel free to engage in good-natured kidding, social ban-
ter about events unrelated to work, and anecdotes regarding
recent company events.
Why is an informal climate so important? Research tells us
that people do their best thinking, most-creative idea-generation,
best decision making, and most effective problem solving when
they are relaxed.
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember
– Mark Twain
CREATE A RELAXED CLIMATE.
What is your Team Culture Quotient (TCQ)?
Please review the list of automobiles below. Then select one car
that best describes the culture of your team today. Please be
prepared to explain your answer and, if possible, to provide
1. Mercedes Benz—a well engineered (and well
2. Cadillac—a conservative, safe machine
3. Mustang—a lively, fun machine
4. Range Rover—a tough, resilient, all-road
5. Porche 911—a fast-paced, exciting machine
Project Planning Guide
All teams, but especially project teams, should have a plan for
how the work will be completed. This work plan is where you
commit yourself to a series of steps or activities that will ensure
that the team’s performance objectives get translated into
ACTION. The work plan is where the rubber meets the road.
The work plan also spells out what each team member is
supposed to do and when each step is supposed to get done.
That’s important, because as Duke Ellington once said, “Without
a deadline, baby, I wouldn’t do nothing.”
A good work plan includes these elements:
A clear statement of the goal.
A set of specific objectives.
A series of steps for reaching the objective.
A deadline for each step.
The proper sequencing of the steps.
Names of team members responsible for each step.
The costs involved in the project.
PREPARE A WORK PLAN.
“It is important to distinguish between efficiency—
doing things right—and effectiveness—doing the right
– Peter Drucker
Enough talking and planning—let’s get some real work done! We
have our goal, our objectives, a plan, and our operating guide-
lines. Now it’s time to produce some work, develop that new
product, come up with those new procedures, help our custom-
ers, or whatever else we have been chartered to do.
Team members need to take responsibility for accomplishing
the objectives by delivering on the action items in the work plan.
During this phase, team members should:
Deliver on their commitments.
Ask for help when they need it.
Offer to help their teammates when they need it.
Follow up with their teammates by returning calls immedi-
ately, providing requested information, offering sugges-
tions, and responding in other ways.
Communicate regularly with their teammates about the
status of tasks and other project-related issues.
Bring concerns and questions about the work to the team
as soon as possible.
Show up on time to team meetings, and be prepared to deal
with the agenda items.
GET THE WORK DONE.
A good way to check how well a project is going is to conduct
periodic progress reviews. Schedule a meeting with the sponsor,
certain stakeholders, the team leader, and team members
responsible for specific tasks in the project plan to go over what
has been done.
Here is the sequence of tasks for a basic project review:
Compare the tasks completed with the list of objectives
spelled out in the project plan.
If there are differences between what was done and what
is in the plan, determine the cause for the discrepancy and
analyze the impact.
Decide on a course of action to correct the problems.
Make revisions to the project plan based on the
“Small problems are difficult to see, but easy to fix.
However, when you let these problems develop, they
are easy to see but difficult to fix.”
– Niccolo Macchiavelli
HOLD EFFECTIVE MEETINGS.
Did you ever think about the real cost of a team meeting? Multi-
ply the average hourly wage of attendees by the number of peo-
ple attending the meeting. Then multiply that by the length of the
meeting in hours. For example, when a team of ten members with
an average wage of $20 per hour meets for 2 hours, the total cost
is $400 (10 x $20 x 2).
Estimate the cost of your last meeting. And by the way, that
cost does not include the cost of production time that was lost
because people had to attend the meeting. Was the value of the
meeting equal to its cost?
How do you ensure that the value of your meeting exceeds the
cost? The key to a successful team meeting is not what happens
during the meeting, but what happens prior to the meeting. It’s
all in the planning.
The principal planning tool is the agenda—the “roadmap” for
the meeting. Agendas should be prepared before the meeting and
distributed to all team members several days prior to the meeting.
Here are a few general guidelines for an effective agenda:
Begin with the most-important or most-complex issue.
Include an approximation of the time that will be devoted
to discussion of each item.
Indicate what action the team will be expected to take on
Use clear descriptions of each agenda item.
Specify the person responsible for the presentation or
discussion of each agenda item.
Meeting: AAA Project Status Meeting
Meeting date: April 30, 2009
Starting time: 2:00 p.m. Ending time: 3:15 p.m.
Location: Conference Room A
Pre-Work: Read First Quarter Report; read Customer
Survey Executive Summary; review March
Topic Action Responsibility Time
Status of Budget: Plan
Decision on overruns J. Kaplan 30 min.
Creation of new work
Decision V. Ku 20 min.
Identify problems S. Edwards 15 min.
Presentation at ACM
Decision on who will
A. Carlin 10 min.
“The ideal meeting is one with me as the chair and two
other members in bed with the flu.”
– Lord Milverton
BUILD EXTERNAL NETWORKS.
No team is an island. You cannot go it alone. No matter how clear
your goals, how detailed your plan, how relaxed your climate, and
how effective your meetings, unless you have the support of
others outside of the team, you will fail! What do you need from
INFORMATION. Teams need accurate and current information,
such as customer and market data, production and safety
records, and quality and problem-identification reports.
RESOURCES. Teams need all kinds of stuff: people who can
provide advice and assistance;, people who can do statistical
and laboratory research; people who can make prototypes;
and people who can prepare test samples.
SUPPORT. Teams also need people who will provide easy, no-
hassle, timely help without constant battles.
BUDGET. Yes, good old-fashioned money goes a long way when
a team needs new equipment, must travel to a customer site,
or add a team member.
Successful teams spend as much time managing the externals as
they do on their internal team development. They work closely
with their customers to stay in touch with their needs. They
network with department heads to get the resources needed to
complete the team’s project tasks. They communicate with senior
management to ensure that their support will continue to be
there, and they involve their suppliers as partners in the process.
“A decision is responsible when the group that makes it
has to answer for it to those who are directly or
indirectly affected by it.”
– Charles Frankel
The Block Project Team was responsible for designing an
enhancement to one of the company’s most successful prod-
ucts. The project manager began by inviting the senior man-
agement sponsor to attend the first meeting to explain the
importance of the project and to outline her expectations for
the team. Throughout the life of the project, the manager kept
the sponsor fully informed of the team’s progress.
During the course of the project, the leader and the mem-
bers regularly communicated with the key department heads in
the organization. They were also invited to major project
review meetings. Three key people from manufacturing were
asked to be adjunct members of the team since they had to
evaluate the production issues of the new product. People from
engineering were involved in the creation of a prototype.
In addition, there was a bi-weekly status meeting with the
key stakeholders from purchasing, engineering, production
planning, operations, and marketing. Notes from this meeting
were circulated to others in the organization.
Toward the end of the development cycle, external activity
increased even more as the product moved toward release.
Representatives from sales and training were brought into the
mix. In the end, the product was released ahead of schedule to
the delight of everyone in the organization. Everyone was
invited to the team’s product launch party; the largest number
of people ever to attend such an event.
RESOLVE CONFLICTS SUCCESSFULLY.
CONFLICT! We don’t even like the word. It sounds like something
negative or unpleasant.
Headlines such as “Middle-East Conflict” and “Labor–
Management Conflict” have influenced our feelings in a negative
way. Conflict is portrayed as war, and therefore, something to be
avoided. In terms of effective teamwork, nothing could be further
from the truth.
There will always be conflicts between team members and
teams. In fact, disagreement is a natural consequence of a
dynamic, active organization. Effective teams create a climate in
which people feel free to express their opinions, even when those
opinions are at odds with the views of other team members.
Problems generally arise because of the manner in which an
opinion is expressed. Attacking another team member, belittling
an opposing idea, using a hostile tone of voice, or making an
aggressive hand gesture can lead to destructive conflict.
The goal is to resolve these conflicts by looking at the
advantages, disadvantages, data, dollars, and alternative
solutions of each opposing point of view, and then making a
decision that is in the best interests of the customer, the team,
and the organization.
Take a look at the five approaches on the next page. How does
your team resolve conflicts?
How Do You
DENIAL: “Problem? There’s no problem.”
SMOOTHING OVER: “Yeah, but it’s no big deal.”
POWER: “It’s my way or the highway.”
COMPROMISE: “Let’s split the difference.”
PROBLEM-SOLVING: “Let’s figure out what’s best for everyone.”
“A certain amount of opposition is of great help to a
person. Kites rise against, not with the wind.”
– John Neal
CREATE A CLIMATE OF TRUST.
As author and team expert Fran Rees said, “Trust is the corner-
stone in a successful team.” However, it’s not easy to develop a
climate of trust. Trust is not something you can order to take
place, wish to occur or give as a gift. It develops over time as
team members come to believe in and depend upon these team-
You gain trust and become trusted by others by being trust-
worthy. As you are “tested” by your teammates, you have an
opportunity to prove yourself. And how do you do this?
Do you promise more than you can deliver?
Do you deliver on your commitments?
Do you ask for more than you actually need?
Do you “sugar-coat” problems or tell half-truths?
Do you stand with your team when stuff hits the fan?
Do you pitch in during times of stress?
Do you freely share your knowledge and expertise?
Do you share the limelight with your teammates?
Do you complain to outsiders about the team?
“The opinions which we hold of one another… are in
no sense permanent… but are as eternally fluid as
the sea itself.”
– Marcel Proust
Are you trustworthy? A study by the DDI Center for Applied
Behavioral Research identified the top five Trust-Building
Behaviors. Read each statement and take a moment to think
about how our teammates see you. Use the scale to respond to
each statement. Place the number of your answer in the space
next to each statement.
= Strongly disagree = Agree
= Disagree = Strongly agree
= Neither disagree nor agree
1. I communicate with my teammates openly and
honestly, without distorting any information.
2. I show confidence in my teammates’ abilities by
treating them as skilled, competent associates.
3. I listen to and value what they say, even though I
may not always agree.
4. I keep my promises and commitments to my
5. I make sure my actions are consistent with my
words. In other words, I practice what I preach.
Interpreting Your Results
20–25 Supreme Court Candidate
12–19 Go to Trust College for post-grad training
5–11 Go directly to jail
It’s hard to communicate too much. In fact, most teams do not
communicate enough, yet good communication is directly linked
to trust. There are two parts to team communication:
Interpersonal communication. How open, trusting, and
effective is the communication between and among team
members? Do members freely share ideas, information,
disagreements, and problems with each other?
Communication of information. Is there a free-flow of
information to and from the team? Do members get all the
information they need to do their job in a timely manner,
and do they keep others informed about their work?
Want to get better at team communication? Use these questions
to facilitate a discussion at a team meeting:
What information do we need from upper management?
Where and when should we get it?
What information should we send up to management? How
and how often should it be sent?
What other groups depend on us for information? How and
when should we provide this information?
What information should we communicate to each other?
How and when should we send it?
Quick Communications Quiz
Directions: Indicate which of the following statements best
represents your views regarding communication. Answer True
(T) or False (F).
Technical information is more likely to be
understood if you tell your teammate to listen
Key concepts are more easily understood and
remembered if you use repetition to reinforce
You can determine whether or not a teammate
understands what you have said by asking him or
her to summarize what they think you said.
Listening is more effective when you anticipate
what your teammate is going to say.
When you are dealing with a long-winded person, it
is okay to periodically and politely interrupt him
or her in order to paraphrase what you think they
“Is this the party to whom I am speaking?”
– Lily Tomlin as Ernestine
the telephone operator
GET EVERYONE COMMITTED.
We all want to be involved with people who care about and
pledge to work with us to accomplish our goal. We want com-
mitment from our spouse, significant other, children, employees,
and of course, our teammates. How do you get commitment? You
don’t get commitment by ordering it, or praying for it—the road
to commitment is through INVOLVEMENT. You get committed
team members by involving them in as many things as possible.
When members are involved in team decisions, they will
support those decisions and work hard to implement them.
When members are involved in setting team goals, they
will do whatever it takes to see that they are accomplished.
When members are involved in defining their role on the
team, they will be motivated to do their work with skill and
When members are involved in creating the team’s operat-
ing guidelines, they will be more inclined to live by them.
When members are involved in developing the work plan,
they will do the work to complete the plan.
Here is a true story that tells you how some people get off on the
wrong foot. As you read the story, think about what’s wrong and
what you would have done differently.
A Commitment Story
How Not to Get Commitment
A senior-management steering committee for a major corpora-
tion set up an employee team to look at the process the com-
pany uses to respond to customer requests. The team consisted
of employees involved in various components of the customer
service function. The senior managers studied the process, and
decided that the average time to handle a request could be
reduced from 72 hours to 24 hours by eliminating certain
steps. At the first team meeting, the steering committee
presented its findings and asked the team to come up with a
plan to reduce the turnaround time on requests. The team
responded by saying, “What do you need us for? It looks like
you’ve done it all yourself.”
What’s the problem here? Why is the team unhappy? How do
you think it should have been handled by the senior manag-
ers, assuming that they wanted the team members to be
committed to the goal?
“The beauty of strong lasting commitment is often best
understood by a person incapable of it.”
– Murray Kempton
MAKE DECISIONS BY CONSENSUS.
There are many ways for a team to make a decision. All of them
work under certain conditions.
The team leader can decide for the team with or without
the input of team members.
The decision can be made by a majority vote of the
The team can reach a unanimous decision that everyone
agrees to without reservation.
The team can arrive at a consensus decision, where there is
general agreement on a course of action that everyone can
support (“We can all live with this.”)
When one person makes the decision (such as the team leader
or manager) it is usually fast and efficient. A majority vote is not
quite as fast, but it tends to be efficient because there is little
debate and the decision is made by a show of hands. However,
when there is little involvement, commitment to the decision is
usually lacking. When a vote is taken, there might be unhappy
losers who try to derail or delay implementation of the decision.
Unanimous decisions win the support of team members, but
the process can be difficult and time consuming, especially if
team members stick to their guns. Consensus has its place, but it
is not always appropriate, so use it carefully. The consensus
technique is appropriate when:
There is no clear answer to the problem.
There is no single expert in the group.
Commitment to the decision is essential.
Sufficient time is available to discuss the issue.
Do We Have
After your team has spent time thoroughly discussing the pros
and cons of a particular issue, ask each team member how they
feel about the proposal that’s on the table by selecting one of
these five options:
I can say an unqualified “yes” to the decision.
I find the decision acceptable.
I can live with the decision, but I’m not especially
enthusiastic about it.
I do not fully agree with the decision, but I do not choose
to block it.
I do not agree with the decision, and I feel that we should
explore other options.
If no one selects #5 and all the responses are either 1, 2, 3, or
4, you have a consensus and are ready to move on.
“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”
– Henry Ford
REWARD TEAM RESULTS.
Reward and recognition programs are important motivators for
teams, but we still need to reward individuals who make contri-
butions to team results.
Payments under reward and recognition programs can be in
the form of either cash or non-cash awards. Non-cash awards are
typically merchandise or services that team members select from
a catalogue of items. Some experts feel that non-cash awards are
more motivational, because each time the person uses the brief-
case, clock, or lawnmower, it is a reminder of the event.
Reward programs are payments to teams based on a pre-
announced formula. The team knows in advance that if we do
this, we will get that. For example, one arrangement created for a
systems-design team was that if the team met the requirements
by a certain date and stayed within the budget, each team mem-
ber would receive a bonus of $150. The promise of a payment
motivated the team to meet the requirements.
Recognition programs acknowledge outstanding performance
by teams or team members after the fact. After the team has
done some good work, the manager decides to recognize their
efforts by providing each team member with some sort of
Teams can create their own awards ceremonies that make
achievement recognition fun, such as the “Academy Awards”
event held by one corporate team. Planners made up specific
awards, such as:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: To the team member who was most
supportive of the team process.
CAPTAIN COURAGEOUS AWARD: To the individual who consis-
tently challenged the system—and lived to tell about it.
THE “DOMINOS DELIVERS” AWARD: To the team member who
could be depended on to deliver work and anything else the
team asked for on time, every time.
U.S. AIR “ON TIME EVERY TIME” AWARD: To the team member
who always showed up on time and was prepared for every
THE BMA: THE BEST MANAGER AWARD: To the manager who was
most supportive of the team’s work.
“Recognition plans can add the fun, excitement, and
satisfaction a company needs in these times of
competitive market stress. They make everything
work a bit better.”
– Jerry McAdams
ASSESS TEAM PERFORMANCE
Periodically, the team should stop to examine how well it is doing
and what might be interfering with its effectiveness. (Even if it
turns out you are doing well, it’s good to know that.)
Teams should take an annual physical or check-up that exam-
ines the vital signs. Research tells us that being concerned about
progress is a sign of a healthy team, as well as a healthy person.
This self-assessment can be formal or informal. Informal
check ups can be as simple as the team leader asking, “How are
we doing?” A solid group discussion based on this and other
simple questions is an effective exercise. Some good questions to
What are our strengths?
What are we doing well?
What things should we stop doing because they are reduc-
ing our effectiveness?
What should we begin doing because they will increase our
How can we improve our team?
A formal assessment does not have to be a long, drawn-out, com-
plicated process. It can be based on a brief written survey, such as
the Quick Team Check that follows, which all team members
complete anonymously. The completed surveys can then be given
to a neutral person to summarize and present to the team.
“You can observe a lot just by watching.”
– Yogi Berra
A Quick Team Check
Directions: Please review each of the team success factors. Then
indicate the extent to which you agree that the statement is true
about your team by circling one number from the scale:
= Strongly disagree = Agree somewhat
= Disagree somewhat = Strongly agree
= Neither disagree nor agree
Circle one number
We have clear goals. 1 2 3 4 5
The climate is relaxed. 1 2 3 4 5
Team member roles are clear. 1 2 3 4 5
Everyone participates. 1 2 3 4 5
We have sufficient resources. 1 2 3 4 5
Communication flows freely. 1 2 3 4 5
Management supports the team. 1 2 3 4 5
Meetings are useful. 1 2 3 4 5
Conflicts are resolved smoothly. 1 2 3 4 5
External relationships are effective. 1 2 3 4 5
TOTAL SCORE: ___________
Interpreting Your Results
37–50 High Performance = The internal dynamics of the team are
positive, and should be continued.
23–36 Average Performance = The team is doing well, but
improvements are needed. Identify the areas where your
scores were low, and develop a plan to address those issues.
10–22 Below Average Performance = The team needs to take a
hard look at the results, and then develop a plan for change.
CELEBRATE TEAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
It is very important that the team take the time and effort to
reach around and pat itself on the back. If you wait for others to
recognize your work, you may wait a very long time. Too often,
people are quick to criticize, but slow to praise.
So, when you’ve accomplished a goal, improved your proc-
esses, installed a new system, produced a new product, or put a
new service into effect, celebrate the event. Congratulate your-
selves, throw your own party, give out gifts to your team mem-
bers, or simply bring in pizzas for everyone.
Many teams work only behind the scenes. They’re not on the
front lines, they don’t have contact with customers, and they
don’t have that all important “visibility” that wins kudos from
others. They keep the ship afloat by making sure the bills are
paid, payroll checks get out, information systems are “up,”
product gets out the door, and the building is clean and secure.
No one ever calls to say, “Thanks for getting my expense check
out on time.” It’s just expected.
This is why it’s so important for teams to plan their own
celebrations when milestones are reached or goals are achieved.
Don’t wait to be recognized, plan your own celebration.
“Don’t worry when you are not recognized,
but strive to be worthy of recognition.”
– Abraham Lincoln
No Cost/Low Cost
Bring pizzas for lunch.
Plan a multi-ethnic lunch or dinner where the food reflects
the membership diversity of the team.
Schedule an outing to a local winery, a fun restaurant, a
sports bar, or a game place.
Plan a picnic or barbecue with lots of sports, games, and
Order t-shirts, sweatshirts, or hats with the team name or
Hold an upscale breakfast in the company cafeteria where
team accomplishments are talked about and celebrated.
Give a good-quality photograph of the team to each member.
“The advantage of doing one’s praising to oneself is
that one can lay it on so thick and exactly in the
– Samuel Butler
TO GETTING THE MOST
FROM THIS BOOK.
Read the book. Give a copy to every member and ask them to
decide which step is most important for their team at this time.
Start with a team assessment. Ask each team member to
complete the Quick Team Check (page 40) and give a photo-
copy of their completed survey to a neutral person who has
agreed to summarize the results.
Present the assessment results. At the next team meeting,
present the summary of the Quick Team Check survey. Facili-
tate a discussion of the results by identifying the strengths of
the team and the areas that need improvement. Develop plans
Facilitate an informal assessment. At a team meeting, ask
team members to complete the Quick Team Check. Then
facilitate an open discussion of strengths, weaknesses, and
ways to increase team effectiveness.
Take one step at a time. Devote 15 to 30 minutes at every
team meeting to a discussion of one of the 20 steps.
Use the book as a pre-work assignment. Get people thinking
about teamwork topics prior to attending a team building
workshop. The workshop leader can begin the session with a
discussion of these topics.
Use the book as a follow-up assignment. The book can be
given out at the end of a workshop along with an assignment
to read the entire book or the parts that were not covered in
As a consultant for more than 30 years, Glenn Parker has helped
create high-performance teams at hundreds of organizations
including Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Company, Philips-
Van Heusen, Telcordia Technologies, BOC Gases, and the U.S.
Coast Guard. He is an internationally-recognized workshop facili-
tator, organizational consultant, and conference speaker in the
areas of teamwork and team meetings.
Glenn is the author of some 16 books including several best-
sellers such as Team Payers and Teamwork, Rewarding Teams:
Lessons from the Trenches, and Cross Functional Teams: Working
with Allies, Enemies and Other Strangers; widely used instru-
ments such as the Parker Team Player Survey and manuals for
practitioners such as 50 Activities for Team Building, 25 Instru-
ments for Team Building, and Team Workout: 50 Interactive
His seminal work in team player styles was featured in the
best-selling CRM video, Team Building II: What Makes a Good
Team Player? Glenn is one of only 75 management thinkers
recognized in the book, The Guru Guide. His latest book, Meeting
Excellence: 33 Tools to Lead Meetings that Get Results, has been
widely quoted and referenced in articles in the New York Times,
Forbes, CIO Magazine, and others.
Glenn is the father of three grown children and currently lives
in the Princeton, New Jersey area with his wife, Judy. In his spare
time, he is an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society
where he helped create Run for Dad, a Father’s Day event
designed to raise awareness about prostate cancer which
regularly draws thousands of participants.
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