Team Management Expert Kristin J. Arnold

How can you encourage your employees to "Go, team, go"? Expert Kristin J. Arnold can help you get the most out of a team-based work place.

The thought of employed in a team-based environment can strike fear in the heartiest & most energetic of workers. Images of hours-long meetings slowly meandering to nowhere, deadlocked votes, and quibbling power plays could cause your most valued employees to perform for cover.

However when you have a complex customer support challenge or advertising campaign that requires expertise from several regions of your company, an excellent team can intensify to the plate and think of a wildly successful strategy that never could’ve been implemented-much less conjured-by one individual alone. Just how do you create and manage successful teams?

Kristin J. Arnold has been answering that question on her behalf clients for a long time through her team-building and facilitation consulting firm, Quality Process Consultants Inc. (http://www.qpcteam.com), and today in her new book, Team Basics: Practical Approaches for Team Success (QPC Press, $14.95). Continue reading to find out the best way to help lead your employees in successful teams.

Entrepreneur.com : What’s the difference between a team-based environment and a normal management structure?

Kristin J. Arnold : A normal, fairly hierarchical environment is where information flows along [from management to employees] and where work can be achieved independently. But what’s happening now could be information isn’t just orally passed and we’ve technology that integrates just how people work. Things are receiving a lot more complex and customers are demanding products faster with higher levels of quality, and one individual just can’t do everything. So people have to communicate across regions of expertise, and companies have become more team-oriented.

There are a few companies where it still is practical to employ a traditional approach, therefore i don’t advocate teams being the answer for everyone. It’s an excellent approach when you experience a problem or an activity that’s complex and interdependent. You will need people’s buy-in [and commitment] to be able to execute that process. Or it may be something that’s high-stakes or high visibility you want to be well-known within the business.

Entrepreneur.com : What exactly are the characteristics of an excellent team?

Arnold : I call it a fantastic team. That’s sort of my byline. Extraordinary teams have a thing or two that are important. The foremost is that the team really needs clear goals. Why is a team not the same as just a group in an area is that whenever a team meets in an area together or all fits in place virtually, it’s to perform a particular goal. A well-functioning team, a fantastic team, knows what that goal is, both in the long run along with the short term.

Another element of a fantastic team is something I call "shared roles." The team isn’t only dependant on one individual; everyone takes responsibility to be in the team, for sharing the team functions, for helping one another without having to be asked, for offering help. I also have confidence in open and clear communication, from both speaker’s side and the listener’s side, and in providing feedback. Additionally you need to create a host which allows for participation and where people can say what must be said.

Another element of extraordinary teamwork is what I call effective decision-making. Not everything needs to be done in a consensus-you know, let’s hold hands and sing "Kumbaya." Extraordinary teams use a number of different methods to make decisions. If one individual has all the details and the project includes a short-term fuse, the other person could make that decision but let everyone else know. Or possibly we utilize the American standard of the democratic vote: Let’s all vote by raising our hands. There could be some issues where it’s absolutely important that there surely is a consensus and everyone can live with it and support it. Or possibly it might be that people need a unanimous decision. Or possibly sometimes the team leader or a team member can just delegate it and say, "Here, just handle it." So it is about using a proper selection of decision-making behaviors.

Another element is valuing diversity-that the team appreciates each other’s strengths and differences. People don’t look at things the same manner, and that is important because if most of us viewed something the same manner, why have a team? Paralleled along with that’s that conflict is managed constructively rather than shied from. The team recognizes that conflict is the main process because it’s a means for teams expressing and clarify issues.

The last component of teams is what I call a cooperative climate. People on teams need not love each other, however they should at least like or respect one another and recognize they can do better together in a team than independently.

Entrepreneur.com : How come a team charter important? What exactly are some components of a charter?

Arnold : Most teams really do not have an excellent charter. The boss will come in and says, "Hey, the trend is to go focus on XYZ," and walks out of your room. The team scrambles around and does some excellent work and comes home to the boss and presents what I call the "rock." The boss talks about the rock and says, "Um, close however, not quite. You’re missing this and you’re missing that." Okay, they dispose of that rock and get back to the drawing board. Just what a charter does is keep carefully the rock phenomenon from happening.

The charter can be an agreement between your team leader and whoever is chartering that team, the boss or what I call the "champion." In excellent teams, the complete team meets with the champion to speak about how they would like to set the synergy for success. What exactly are the goals? What’s the champion expecting? What exactly are your ideas concerning this? What’s negotiable? What’s not negotiable? What’s in your limits? How quickly would you like this done? Who do you consider ought to be on the team? Down the road down the road when teams are struggling, they may be struggling because among these important elements wasn’t addressed in the charter. The chartering process forces visitors to sit down and discuss expectations. In the event that you charter the team effectively, you can prevent 80 percent of your problems from happening to begin with.

Entrepreneur.com : As a company owner, what steps in the event you take to encourage a wholesome team atmosphere among your employees?

Arnold : An integral step is to model team behaviors yourself. If employees start to see the owner being truly a team player, modeling the techniques I discuss in my own book, then they’ll do it simply by osmosis above all else.

Additionally, there are little things owners can do to essentially send the signal that they care. A lot of people in a team desire to be heard, so owners should supply the opportunity to allow team do the talking vs. monopolizing or dominating the conversation. Pay attention to other’s ideas and build on them rather than make it like it offers to be your own [idea to be valid]. The team may set off in a direction, and you will say, "Well, that isn’t my first choice, nonetheless it could work." If you can could live with it-and that is the definition of a consensus, that everyone in the team can live with it and support it upon implementation-then the team isn’t falling back on your own decision if they can’t reach a consensus. You understand, we all turn to the dog owner and say, "Okay, what would you like?" Nevertheless, you should allow team find out, "Is this the very best? Was the dog owner right or was the team right?"

Additionally you want to allow team fail sometimes. There’s a fascinating archetype for American behavior for the reason that we learn more whenever we fail. Sometimes as owners-just like when our children learn to walk-we need to watch employees stumble every once in awhile because they study from that. [And that’s OK] so long as you return back, debrief and know what worked well along the way and what could possibly be done differently, so you’re supporting a continuing improvement and feedback loop.