“The person who figures out how to harness the collective genius of the people in his or her organization is going to blow away the competition.” -Tom Peters
Tapping the intelligence, positive motivation and commitment of employees is the goal of employee empowerment. A big part of this is implementing teams. Through training, team members create a charter, improve their work processes, define roles and responsibilities, set goals, learn how to work together, etc.
However, these teams exist in a larger organizational context and their long-term success depends on the support they receive from the organization. Many team initiatives fail because management has not created the environment in which teams could thrive. They’ve assumed that implementing teams was simply a matter of decree and training.
Team development planning is taking a step back and creating the conditions in which teams will thrive. It includes such actions as the following:
- Philosophical alignment: the top leaders in a company should fully understand and genuinely commit to the philosophy of teams and employee engagement. They need to be willing to look at how their personal behaviors are consistent with this philosophy.
- Organizational design: the top leaders also need to ensure that the design of the company (structure, processes and systems) supports teams and employee engagement. For example, do people get information when and where they require it? Are they recognized and rewarded for their contribution? Do department boundaries facilitate communication? Etc.
- Supervisor role: The role of managers and supervisors changes in a team environment from “command and control” to facilitating and empowering. They usually require training and support to make this transition.
In addition to making sure that the larger organization is aligned, we believe it is necessary to go through a formal process of “team development planning.” We bring supervisors and managers together, for approximately one day, to chart out the “what” and “how” of team development. This group comes up with a plan that includes:
- Clarifying the purpose, expected results and boundary conditions in which teams will operate
- Identifying: Information needs
- Technical knowledge and skill needs
- Social and business knowledge and skill needs
- Listing all tasks and responsibilities to be performed by teams over time
- Identifying designated roles for each team
- Developing time-line for assimilation of roles and responsibilities
- Identifying resources and support to be provided by management
- Completing an “Empowerment Matrix” for roles and responsibilities team members will assume
These steps don’t preempt the work done by teams as they create their own charter, set goals, define responsibilities, etc. However, it does ensure that proper boundaries are established at the outset and that supervisors/managers are playing an appropriate role of managing the entire process. It begins to help redefine their role from controlling the flow of work to creating the environment and providing the support necessary for workers to succeed.
- Companies transitioning to a team-based culture
- Senior management sponsorship
- Supervisors and managers
- One day initial planning
- Ongoing support
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