By Will Sudworth
“I’ve spoken to both of them individually, but is there something we can do in the team offsite to sort their fractious relationship? It’s affecting the team and it’s starting to impact the way their departments work with each other too. All the other relationships seem good, but it wouldn’t harm to ‘turn up the dials’ on all of us.”
She wasn’t just following her instinct – the team leader had read about MIT’s breakthrough in proving the link between high performance and team members directly engaging each other outside of meetings.
We proposed an “Expectation Exchange” – a facilitated powerful and practical Team Effectiveness (TE) Tool to improve the Dimension of Team Partnership. It formed the last two hours of the team’s offsite and was deliberately placed so: it isn’t wise to just jump into this tool cold – the process benefits from the goodwill and understanding that has been built-up towards the end of the meeting.
Forming a horseshoe with the chairs, the team member in the hot seat is asked “Concisely in two minutes, and uninterrupted other than possible prompts from me, what is your role and how will you approach it, given all the agreements you have made as a team?”
The main phrases are captured to help people to focus on the expectations being set in the moment, and also as a record for afterwards. With this particular process, it seems easier to match the speed by typing and projecting rather than writing on a flip chart.
The focus then turns to the rest of the team members.
“You have five minutes – uninterrupted other than prompts from me – to make your requests to this team member. Start your requests with the words ‘I would like it if…’. You can request that they keep doing things that you value highly, start new things that you really need, stop or change old patterns that aren’t helpful anymore. It is important to keep them as requests – requests make it clear that you are leaving control in the hands of the receiver. Demands create resistance.
Again, these are captured, as is the last step for the team-member: “Uninterrupted, other than prompts from me, please respond to these requests. If it is a yes or a maybe, please explain what you are going to do. If it is a no, please explain why. “
After everyone has had a turn in the hot seat, the team discover that they have had a positive and proactive expectation exchange, each of the team members making a ‘contract’ that they now are more likely to keep, with the coaching support of the team leader.
“I’m really pleased we ran that process”, the team leader said afterwards, “It was intense but really positive. Instead of just hearing it from me, the ‘fractious two’ heard the entire team requesting that they worked really strongly with each other for everyone’s benefit and committed to it in a way in which we can all now support them with. And it was all in the context of ‘turning up the dials’ for all of us. I’ve got some good things to work on too.”
As with all of our TE Tools, they are great to use over and over again self-sufficiently, by the team as they are needed, having first learned them with a red10 TE Coach.
We provide our teams with a TE Toolkit. Please let us know if you would like a copy, or have suggestions for new tools to add.