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Communications for High-Performance Teams

How many times have you been on a team where you felt that
you weren’t all on the same page, or that the team wasn’t
performing up to the level it could or should be, and
yet.....you know that your team members are bright and
highly capable?

High-performance as the desired outcome forms the hub of the
team wheel. Supporting the hub are four critical spokes,
each of which must be built through explicit and clear
communication. These four spokes represent phases of team
development.

The first spoke is that of membership, in which people are
asking questions related to membership and group identity
issues : What can I contribute? What is expected of me?
What values and assumptions are we working under? What are
our individual roles and responsibilities? These questions
must be answered for participants to feel that they belong
to and are committed to the team.

The second spoke is that of team operating norms. Every
group develops norms, either explicitly or tacitly. To be
most effective, the team needs to create emotionally
intelligent norms that intentionally support behaviors for
building trust and group efficacy - both essential to a
team’s effectiveness. Norms may include whatever individual
members believe is important and valuable for effective
teamwork.

Norms that lead to high performance are numerous, but can
and should include things like:

• Using good listening skills to build on the on-going
discussion and offering summaries of issues being discussed
to make sure we have a shared understanding.

• The willingness to explore and expose unhealthy work
habits in order to build more effective group norms.

• Standards for how we’re going to communicate in and
outside meetings

• Keeping us on track if we get off

• Facilitating group members’ input

• Permission for bringing feelings out in the open and
dialoguing about how they affect the team’s work

It’s the leader’s job to instill a sense of responsibility
in individuals for the well-being of the team. In
self-aware, self-managing teams, members hold each other
accountable for sticking to norms.

The third spoke is comprised of communication on issues
related to control, which range from resolving issues of
leadership style, decision-making and conflict management
processes, as well as agreement on operating practices that
support development, production and/or
implementation.

Lastly, to build the fourth spoke, the group must address
and agree on the overarching team goals, addressing the
questions of: “What do I want to see happen? What do we
want to accomplish? And how will we know when we’ve
accomplished it?”

These spokes comprise a series of developmental stages that
high-performing teams negotiate effectively. Lack of team
alignment and high performance indicate that the group has
not adequately addressed and clarified questions in one or
more of the stages of membership, control, or goals.
If you find yourself on a team that’s not delivering to it’s
potential, it’s time to do a team assessment to uncover and
bring to light the unresolved issues. When you do that,
assuming you have the right players, your team can go from
good or even very good to GREAT.

About the Author

Manya Arond-Thomas, M.D., is the founder of Manya
Arond-Thomas & Company, a coaching and consulting
firm that catalyzes the creation of “right results” through
facilitating executive development, high-performance teams
and organizational effectiveness. She can be reached at
(734) 480-1932 or e-mailed at manya@arond-thomas.com.
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Manya Arond-Thomas