March 12, 2018

What Makes the Team Grow Stronger

It was the second day of a very unusual teambuilding event. Ruth was hurriedly sipping coffee thinking about John’s unexpected idea of delegating authority to the team. She was glad that he was not going to change the team model. However, she knew John well enough and guessed there might be some hidden thoughts or plans. Ruth grabbed her bag and went to the conference room where almost all her colleagues had gathered already.

 Emily, Mike, Peter, and Sam looked at Ruth curiously when she entered the room. It was 07h30. “Hi guys, how are you doing today?” Ruth said and added after a short pause “We had a very inspiring brainstorming session yesterday…Hmm.. Where is John?” Suddenly the door opened and John entered the room. He greeted his team members and took his seat between Sam and Emily. “Hey, who will be the boss today?” Peter asked looking at John “what will we do today?” Mike smiled softly and reminded Peter about John’s intention to decentralize his authority. Sam added ironically: “John, we have supported your initiative. One more day without dictatorship… Wow! I love this idea. Anyway, I guess someone should lead today’s meeting. Would you like to lead Ruth?” But Emily protested throwing a quick glance at the written record of yesterday’s brainstorming: “I guess one day without a leader doesn’t mean one day with another leader. Let’s be more serious. Why not lead together? Anyway, today’s topic is defining our areas of responsibility within the team.”
The team members began discussing the ideas they had prioritized the day before. Ruth couldn’t believe her ears – it was the first time the team was having a meeting without John’s strong leadership but in his presence. It was interesting how the leader’s role started rotating – Emily started the discussion, Peter began motivating commitment, Sam summarized the main points, Mike could quickly recognize conflicting signals and encouraged his colleagues to calm down, and Ruth monitored the team achievements as a unit and helped keep the discussion going. What was John doing all the time? He didn’t provide any support and was silent. John’s behavior was absolutely new to the team. “Why is he here? Maybe he hopes his presence can keep our discussion from getting into a mess,” Ruth thought.
“OK, there are two interesting ideas that we have defined,” Mike said looking at John as if seeking his encouragement “the first idea is increasing the effective knowledge sharing in the team and the second one is dealing with difficult clients. John, our team proposes that these topics could be the areas of the team’s responsibility. Would you approve them?” John’s reaction was surprising: “Hey, I am just a team member now. Why are you asking me?” Sam reacted sarcastically reminding John that anarchy could lead to loss of leadership and control. Emily, Mike, and Peter started quarrelling with Sam.
Ruth looked at her watch – it was 09h00. She gave a worried look to John and thought: ”How was he going to lead now?” But John was silent. Ruth felt it was time for her to lead the discussion: “Hmm.. Please stop squabbling. It’s time to reach a team consensus. Both ideas are great but I think our team can self-manage effective knowledge sharing in the team. Let’s vote…” Emily who was writing the meeting minutes exclaimed cheerfully: “Yeah, it’s amazing, all team members have said yes to the idea! I don’t remember when we’ve ever had such exciting voting.”

John was beaming. He thanked his team members and said: “Great, we have one area that will receive the team’s self-management and responsibility in the future. Now, how will you implement your idea? This is definitely the next goal and I hope you will reach it successfully.” Peter asked whether their company was going to introduce some self-management in the future. “It’s a good question, Peter,” John replied smiling “not sure”. I think Helen, our HR manager, will be on our side. Hmm... Hopefully she won’t avoid our team decision like the plague. I am going to invite a good friend of mine, Bill, a chief executive from Chicago to come and chat to you. I met him a year ago when I was on holiday. He can share his experiences with us ... “
John paused and added: “By the way, what have you learnt so far since yesterday?” 

How to make the team grow stronger? What is YOUR experience?

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