18th February 2015

The 7 Ps of Team Performance

Way back in 1965 Bruce Tuckman put forward his now famous “Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing” model of team development.  Tuckman’s model identified the phases necessary and inevitable for teams to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results.  It remains an essential reference point for establishing a baseline of team maturity.

However, 50 years on we know a few more things about teams, team dynamics and accelerating team performance.  And first and foremost is that teams do not move through Tuckman’s four phases naturally or by chance.

In our work as consultants we see a lot of teams spending too long in the Forming stage (and why not, it’s a comfortable place to be).  In the Forming stage relationships begin to form and team member behaviour is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others and, as a result, controversy or conflict is avoided. The team meets, learns about the opportunities and challenges, agrees on goals, and begins to tackle the tasks.  However what we find is serious issues tend to be avoided, and people focus on routines, when to meet, etc. While it’s a comfortable stage to be in, the avoidance of conflict means that decisions don’t get made and not much actually gets done.

Under the pressure to deliver teams tend to drift into the Storming stage unprepared for what is ahead.  The environment becomes contentious, unpleasant and even painful to members of the team who are averse to conflict. Tension, struggle and arguments occur because there is always less resource than necessary and, let’s face it, true cooperation means letting go of personal agendas for the sake of the team goal so we see a lot of ‘fight or flight’ behaviour at this stage.  This in turn sees the team leader becoming directive in their guidance and decision-making and team members tend to resolve their differences formally through the manager. Sadly, many teams never develop past the Storming stage because some members leave the team in frustration, new members arrive and bingo!, the team is back to Forming.

Now, before you read any further stop and consider the following.  Think of a team you are a leader or member of:  Where does that team sit on the Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing continuum?

 

Forming ← ← ←

→ → → Performing

Purpose

We need to align on what we have to do

We are aligned on why we are here

Accountability

We each take care of our patch

We are all here for each other

Decisions

Good decisions take time

We decide, we communicate, we act

Conflict

Win some, lose some

Always resolved professionally

Teamwork

Teamwork = Meeting together

Meeting is a part of Teamwork

Have we got your attention?

In a previous post we described why a focus on team performance is critical for organisations. In short, as most work is done in teams, understanding team performance is fundamental in building a leadership culture.  The reason that most teams don’t evolve is that they don’t spend time reflecting on how they are working, or the effectiveness of their decision making processes.  And that is because they don’t analyse the key components of effective team performance.

Here’s the thing.  Working in a team (aka teamwork) is a skill or capability.  And if you want to learn or improve any skill whether it be learning to play golf, drive a car, make a presentation or, in this case, work in a high performing team, you need to understand it by breaking it down to its component parts.

At Generator Talent we have looked deep into our experience working with teams in our corporate and consulting lives and we have codified the core elements of team performance.  Our simple framework explains what high performing teams look like.  We call it the 7 P’s of Team Performance and when these elements are developed and working in concert teams can move through the four stages and reach the nirvana that is high performance. The 7 P’s are:

  1. Positive Intent: The foundation of trust is positive intent. When relationship quality and affinity are high, people are eager to work together, interested in identifying and providing what others need for success and quick to respond to communication. When trust is high people feel free to express ideas and go beyond their comfort zone.

     

  2. Powerful Purpose: A powerful uniting purpose creates a connection between team members’ work and the overall direction of the business.   Where people are connected to the organisation’s direction their work is inspired and has meaning for them and they are more willing to think, act, and communicate in positive new ways.

     

  3. Personal Accountability: While technical competence and high levels of EQ are important, individuals must be willing to hold themselves personally accountable for the performance of the teams they are on. Magic happens when team members step up and begin take accountability for things and people they can’t control.

     

  4. Performance Platform: Effort can be focussed effectively when there is no confusion on the goal. You know you have clear goals and agreement on business priorities for the team and its members when the answer to the question “Did you do it?” is a resounding “yes” or “no”.

     

  5. Points of Intersection: Knowing when to work independently or interdependently is a crucial to team effectiveness.  Interdependence does not mean consensus. Commitment to “winning” for the team means every member of the team is aware of the points of intersection and actively manages all their interdependencies.

     

  6. Protocols of Operation: The biggest drag on team efficiency is unresolved conflict over goals and resources and within relationships.  The team must have agreed-upon protocols for how resources are allocated, how decisions get made, and for how conflicts are raised and resolved.

     

  7. Progress Assessment: Unless a team and the members of that team have a willingness to periodically self-assess team and individual development and progress and, to undertake serious effort to continually evolve, it will not achieve, let alone sustain, high performance.

Understanding these elements of what team work is comprised of will allow teams to zero in on the critical opportunities for improvement that will ensure they continue to evolve and perform.  So how do you help teams synthesise these elements to get to high performance you ask?  Well, stay tuned, that’s a topic for the next article.

Justin Miles,
Partner & Managing Director,
The Talent Workshop


Categories: Uncategorised

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