What makes a successful change team?

I’ve been asked by many of my clients “What’s the best way to pull a successful change team together?”
Now, there are many views on this kind of thing out there but I like to keep it simple! As Bruce Lee once said “simplicity is genius”skydiving-team

Firstly, you need to look at the type of person you want to entrust with improving your organisation – Attitude is everything! A positive, can-do attitude wins every time for me over any number of MBA qualifications, so let’s take a look at teams………

There are lots of definitions as to what makes a team. One of the better definitions states:
‘…… a team is a group of people who co-operate and work together to achieve a goal in a way which allows them to accomplish more than individuals working alone could have achieved.’

Ideally, they will all be working together towards commonly understood, shared and achievable objectives.

Obviously, when a new team is formed, it is very rare that it will perform effectively from the start. There is a development process that each successful team must go through.

This development process has three distinct stages:

• chaotic
• formal
• mature

Chaotic Stage

The chaotic stage is the very first stage that a new team goes through.

As the name suggests a team is the chaotic stage of development will exhibit typical characteristics. These include:

• inadequate planning
• not enough time given to setting clear, agreed objectives
• making too many assumptions, particularly about objectives, targets and team roles
• underestimating problems
• no clear procedures, agreed ways of working or development of understanding
• poor communication within the team. (during discussions, some team members will dominate while others will not be able to get their ideas heard)
• everyone tending to talk at once. (this, coupled with poor listening skills, will lead to ideas that are lost)
• leadership is either non-existent, unclear, too heavy-handed or not accepted by the rest of the team

It is easy to see that teams in the chaotic stage will fail more often than they succeed. However, these failures will be ‘explained away’ and ‘glossed over’ instead of being analysed objectively.

Chaotic teams will be fun for a while. Team members will tend to overcome uncertainty by diving headlong into the task without really giving thought as to what they are doing or how they are working together.

Eventually though, the team will begin to react against the chaotic stage by becoming more formal in its approach. There is a danger however, that the team will overreact and introduce formal procedures that are too rigid and restraining.

I’ll discuss the formal stage in my next blog.