I just finished reading an oldie but a goodie, “Go Team!”, by Ken Blanchard, Alan Randolph & Peter Grazier. If your desiring to take your team to the next level, this book will help you look at the difference between work groups and highly functioning, effective teams, and outlines a process for developing those teams. As work, ministry, and life get more challenging and more complex, our need for effective teams only increases. “Next Level Teams” is a great resource that answers how you can move forward with your team, and I think you’ll find this book highly applicable if you lead any type of team. Here’s a synopsis taken right from the book. Enjoy! 

Too few people really understand how to build a team that puts into action the knowledge, experience, and motivation of its people. We do not have to look very far to see numerous examples of failed team efforts. It is no surprise that people often give up on the idea of teams and try to go it alone. We do not believe that is an effective solution for today’s workplace. Go Team! is our game plan for building better teams: Next Level Teams.

As business changes, the nature of work needs to change. Relationships, responsibilities, and information-flow between management and the workforce must change to meet the demand for ever-improving performance. The move to Next Level Teams begins with sharing the information necessary for people to carry out their work effectively and efficiently. Information sharing is absolutely essential for solving the problems that plague organizations.

The sharing of information requires us to manage our prior beliefs about what people need to know. If team members are being asked to accept more responsibility and accountability for work performance, then they must be given more resources to affect that performance. Next Level Teams become powerful because information is shared openly in an atmosphere of trust and respect. Team members know that they are protected by the bond of trust that exists among them, so they feel freer to offer information that may be sensitive but important to the team’s success.

When we begin to operate as a Next Level Team, the freedom associated with new responsibilities and authority may seem unclear. This is where boundaries become valuable because they help us define our authority clearly and thus allow us to make good decisions and take independent actions.

Independent actions need boundaries so that people can take them with a sense of direction and autonomy and without fear of reprisal. The intent of boundaries in a Next Level Team environment is not to restrict action but rather to create the responsibility and freedom to act. The old system narrows the boundaries, whereas the Next Level approach is to widen them.

At the outset of the journey to the Next Level, it is better to err in the direction of more restrictive boundaries that create a small playing field for people. It is easier to widen a boundary and allow more freedom than to suddenly close it in because people have not been able to handle the scope of responsibility. It will also be difficult to identify all boundaries at the outset, so everyone should be very aware that the journey to Next Level Teams is, indeed, a journey. The process will need to be adapted as it evolves.

There is a need in today’s global business environment to establish a true partnership between the team and the organization, built around extensive information sharing and wide boundaries of authority that allow more freedom for teams to take action. In a Next Level Team, members take ownership of the responsibility for continually developing themselves and improving their work processes. Team members understand that the organization succeeds or fails depending on how effectively they and their leadership perform the work. Next Level Teams operate as integral parts of the organization, making full use of the knowledge, experience, and motivation of team members to impact team and organizational results in powerful and effective ways.

Research on teams for almost one hundred years has shown that there are four primary elements of highly successful teams. To develop your Next Level Team properly and keep it on track, you need to ask and answer four questions:

1. Do we have a common purpose or mission? Most teams that fail do so because team members lack clarity and alignment about their mission. The mission is what the team does, its purpose for existing. New teams or teams in trouble should clearly define what they do to each member’s satisfaction. The more clearly this mission is defined, the more able team members will be to take the appropriate actions to accomplish it.

2. Do we have agreed-upon operating processes? An operating process gives a team structure as to how it will operate while completing its task or tasks. It tells the team how decisions will be made as they relate to important issues. In actuality, the team may have multiple operating processes to accomplish various tasks. To be effective, a team must have clear and agreed-upon operating processes.

3. Do we have shared operating principles? Operating principles determine how team members will work together, particularly how they will treat each other. Teams frequently struggle with the “people” aspects of running a team because members lack a common view of how they want to work together. Operating principles are guidelines that help team members put into action the values they share in terms of how they work together. 

4.  Do we understand and appreciate our different roles? Team members have both formal and informal roles to play on a team. The formal roles are usually defined by work responsibilities, such as electrician, plumber, apprentice, clerk, accountant, scheduler, coordinator, team leader, and so forth. The informal roles are defined by the natural skills and talents each team member brings to the team process. These abilities should be discussed to identify people’s natural talents and how they might best be used. The team should also attempt to identify missing skills and their implications.

Your team is moving forward during one of the most significant transition periods of the post-industrial business age. Regardless of any bumps in the road you may encounter, understand that you are breaking new ground in how organizations work. You and your leaders are to be commended for your foresight and persistence in moving your organization to a new level of functioning and, ultimately, a new level of performance. Your team is now in a position to contribute to the business in extraordinary ways.

Interested in reading the book in its entirety? You can purchase it here: http://ow.ly/W3S230el7IV