In a previous column I defined the first characteristic of a successful team: trust. Now for the second characteristic: a dynamic group process. Some company leaders think that building a strong team requires dissecting the past and rehashing every situation that destroyed team trust. A better way is to still dissect the past, but do so with an attitude of listening and learning, not justification or retaliation.
Here are some tips for creating a dynamic group process.
• Give meetings a goal. For example, if your company is struggling to meet budgets, task your team to come up with ideas to address the issue. The framework should promote free-flowing, spontaneous ideas. The meeting can be guided by the group leader, but that leader should encourage attendees to share all their ideas — not just the ones that they think the leader will like.
• Listen carefully. Most entrepreneurs have a long history of making decisions without input from others. If, during the meeting on budgets, a production crew member complains about the sales team transferring jobs to the field before they are ready, the leader should not respond by saying they do so to keep the entire company working. That response creates a no-win atmosphere that will end participation in the meeting.
• Look for solutions. In the example above, the better response would be to ask questions about past transfers that were not ready. What was missing from the production packet? Use these answers to look for solutions that will improve the process.
The best answer will likely come from someone in the room. Write down all the possible solutions — don’t discount those that seem obvious or outrageous. Review the list for the most viable answers.
• Create a plan. Once you agree on a solution, name those accountable for each part of the plan. This may require the owner to break some habits, do things differently, or delegate, but it will strengthen the idea that change is not about individuals; it’s about the entire team.