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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Team Tips - 3 {Who gets to play?}

The next challenge for teams I have chosen is from Ben N.:
New member ?
“How to select members for a great team?”
The smartest way we have seen people get selected for a team is to have all potential team members attend the team building workshop: Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams. This session is also known as BootCamp by the originators of the event, Jim and Michele McCarthy, and is based on their book Software for Your Head.

By inviting potential team members to participate in this workshop the boss* is setting some initial conditions which help define the basis for the team. (* see Team Tips - 1)
  1. The workshop is NOT mandatory. Accordingly, the people who attend are only those who want to be there; hence, want to be part of the team
  2. By participating in the session attendees are immersed in the Core Protocols – the Simple Rules and Tools. This helps everyone involved get to experience and practice these foundational behaviours for great teamwork, and some will invest energy in this learning and thrive in it, and some may choose not to
  3. During the session, the team members develop a Shared Vision for that team. If someone doesn't wish to share that vision they are free to follow their own dream and so move out of the original team
  4. The team members that find that the Core Protocols as used by the team deliver on the promise of high band-with communication, fast decision making, the development of trust, a focus on results of high quality, etc. become their own self organized team. Any attendees who don't are again free to not participate, possibly forming their own team working in other ways
The boss gets the result: a self organized team, following Simple Rules and Tools that are repeatable in any situation, scaleable for any size of group, reliably working to produce the best results on time every time. Any attendee who chooses not to be part of this, effectively self-selects themselves off the team.

Our experience with this approach is that:
   a) bosses have used the session to “do the hiring”. That is the immersion becomes the hiring process, and the check for personality chemistry, and the probation period, and any other scrutiny one wishes for in a hiring process. (And the cost of a “normal” personnel search, interview and hire, and possible failure after three months of probation more than pays for the session.)
   b) or alternatively, they have seen after the session who should be, or remain, “on the bus” [Good to Great, Harper Collins, Jim Collins] and can identify those who don't wish to work on the team using the Core Protocols. (Again this saves considerable energy and cost dealing with employees who have turned out not to be a good fit.)

The quick answer then is: Have the team select their own members.
If the team already exists, then they are the best people to determine who will fit well on that team, who can aspire to the team's shared vision, will use the team's commitments to responsible behaviour, and follow the team's protocols for information sharing, decision making, self improvement, development of great products or services, etc.

And just as the great teams work with a bias toward action instead of discussion, and incrementally building prototypes, and perfecting them, they can do the same thing in confirming new members. That is, work with them over a probationary period for everyone to confirm that the newly expanded team is functioning as well or better, and similarly the team is a good fit for the new member.

Great teams learn to let ideas go, and similarly can accept that their world isn't perfect for everyone. Sometimes the shiniest, prettiest, smartest new hire just shouldn't be on this team. The Core Protocols provide the tools to deal with that.

Again, the underlying premise in all these answers is that the team is using the Simple Rules – the Core Commitments in the Core Protocols – and the Tools – the Protocols themselves for their day to day operation. This is simply the smartest approach for any team that we have found.

So here is the “catch”. If what I am suggesting doesn't seem workable in your situation, then you need to use the Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams (or something better).

To add your questions to the list add a comment below or tweet me @ReevesResults.

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