Five Strategies To Pulling A Team Together

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Working with teams for many years, I have learned that no two are alike and each one has its own personality and style. It doesn’t matter what the team chooses for its culture or style as long as it’s high performing and resilient. Where the challenges come in is when a team isn’t propelling forward or is stuck in second gear.

Some helpful questions that may realign a derailed team are:

Are we dealing with a process issue?

Do we have the right and diverse talent we need?

Do members have a clear understanding of their responsibilities?

Are we incorporating our vision and mission?

How are we encouraging idea sharing?

Questions are always a great way to begin a team discussion as long as the team leader is a skilled facilitator. People always know when their input is considered valuable versus when their suggestions are belittled or deemed lack luster.

Here are five strategies to “up” your facilitation skills and pull a team together: 

1. HAVE A GAME PLAN

Before any change or forward motion can take place, it is key to choose a direction. It doesn’t mean there is no room for additional tributaries to flow into the team river, it just means setting the course.

  • Include the team’s or organizational vision in the plan
  • Clearly explain why this choice was made, including the benefits and disadvantages
  • Spell out each team member’s responsibilities to themselves and each other
  • State this is the beginning of the plan’s formation and the importance of the team refining their path

2. COMMIT TO TRYING SOMETHING NEW

This strategy can be the most difficult to embrace if we don’t believe there may be a better way to achieve the team’s goals. Try saying this to yourself before meeting with the team:

“I am keeping an open mind to new possibilities and will not put-down different perspectives that didn’t work in the past.”

“We really need to approach this challenge in a new way.”

“This team is capable of innovation and creative problem solving.”

 3. LEAVE NO IDEA BEHIND

According to Patrick Lencioni in his powerful book, “The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team”, commitment cannot come unless every suggestion is considered and mulled over. What this also implies is that a team leader needs to carefully facilitate the brainstorming piece.

  • Give each team member the opportunity to offer input by creating an environment of active listening without interruption
  • Validate each idea offered with a reason for its merit
  • Encourage team members to add to suggestions being shared with additional perspective
  • Maintain a supportive and kind atmosphere of acceptance, rather than judgment

4. INCLUDE THE TEAM IN THE IMPLEMENTATION

Facilitating a team’s new direction means never going it alone in promoting the change. Each person should find their role and voice in launching the team forward. Decide together on individual expectations and put up the action plan on a whiteboard or Google drive for everyone to refer back to.

5. FOLLOW THROUGH WITH GUSTO

A good facilitator knows that keeping track of the team’s progress is essential to any new choice or course. Set up feedback chains with specific timeframes and goals. Ask the team what is a reasonable date to achieve each of their contributions. Send out periodic check-in emails, offering to help with any bumps they may hit. Share with the team your challenges along the way too.

What strategies have worked for you to pull a team together?

For activities to help you and your team propel forward, download my new ebook of Empowered Leadership activities.

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6 thoughts on “Five Strategies To Pulling A Team Together

  1. This is a great post, Terri!

    I have read Patrick Lencioni’s book and you make a very important point: the team leader must be a competent facilitator. This is essential. I’ve been in meetings where every team member’s suggestion was discussed and mulled over—the process was painful because the leader could not keep the discussion moving ahead!

    The best facilitator is not always the best leader, or manager….

  2. Facilitation is not a skill that all leaders are able to do successfully but one that is critical to leading a team. However, like many leadership skills, it can be learned.

    To be an effective facilitator, it is critical to keep an open mind and trust that team members have valuable insights.

    Thanks LaRae!

  3. What strikes me most about this post is how you extend the definition of facilitator. I used to travel facilitating teams through sticky conversations around the USA. I’d do my homework up front and come to the meeting ready to facilitate brainstorming and to move forward into a more concrete action plan. What you offer leaders is an extension… almost becoming a sherpa for the team… guiding forward on implementation and follow-through. That’s what will really set leaders apart. You can bring in an expert facilitator for a meeting, but the strongest leaders continue to see things through.

    Excellent!

  4. Wonderful point Alli about differentiating a great facilitator from a great leader!

    I would say that leaders do need to be strong facilitators when their teams are in conflict and when their teams are brainstorming for innovation. Facilitation is not always considered essential for leadership, yet when a leader can facilitate more voices and ideas are often heard and integrated.

    Thanks Alli!

  5. Excellent post and one of my favorite topics. I so believe that teams need to truly clarify their mission and the behaviors needed to accomplish it. So often I see teams just assume the goals they’ve been given without really rallying around a vision that they can own.

  6. It is essential that teams embrace their vision and feel committed to following a particular path. Teams also need to periodically review their vision and make sure it still makes sense and is meaningful to their work.

    Thanks Karin!

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