7 Attributes that Help Develop a Strong Team Through Rapid Innovation

If you find that a team you’re a player on is struggling, take a read through these 7 attributes. Where are you showing up strongest and where do you need to invest in yourself or your team?  Earlier this month we had some time with Alan Yordy, Senior Partner with CEO Advisory Network and pasted president of PeaceHealth. He shared some incredible insights on building teams that work.

“Teams have a life. They’re built purposefully, cultivated, brought along together and then they dissolve. It’s a natural lifecycle and one that, when paid careful attention to in that cultivation phase can be incredibly successful,” shared Alan.

7 Attributes of Teams that Work Well

1. They like and respect one another.
This may seem obvious but it’s not. Respect isn’t something that comes from a degree or from a singular experience. Respect is earned. Cultivating a team that respects one another necessitates clear expectations that are universal for every single team member.

2. They invest in the relationship as a team.
Sometimes team building gets a bad rap. We don’t need to swing on a ropes or walk through hot coals together, but there does need to be an investment in the relationship in terms of team building. This is done through spending social time together, participating in carefully designed team building activities or participating in service projects.

3. They share a commitment to work together.
With clear expectations, team members come together with their eyes open. The mission of the organization and needs of the team are clear. Regardless of the challenges they will face as a team, they share a commitment to do the work.

4. Hard decisions can be made.
In healthcare, clinicians are used to making difficult life- and death decisions. The scope and impact of decisions in executive leadership are equally critical. Teams often struggle when one team member does not support a decision. Having a clearly stated decision-making paradigm gives guidance as to how teams make decisions. Coming to a decision (not always consensus) is made easier with a decision-making tool. Too often teams act as if ten to one is a tie vote.

5. Triangulation does not happen.
“A third party never fixed a team issue” Alan shared, and this seemed particularly apt in the healthcare industry. Getting opinions, pulling in experts, and seeking outside council can frequently be seen as an advantage. But telling one member of a team about your issues with another member of the team creates triangulation. If two team members have an issue with each other, the solution is found in direct dialogue between the two.

6. Diverse opinions.
There is power in diversity. This is key in teams. We need diverse opinions and perspectives. We need to listen to all of the voices at the table. A team may not reach consensus but must make decisions and have multiple perspectives to make good decisions.

7. Commitment to the decision.
Regardless of the various opinions expressed as a team, the best teams make a commitment to the decision being made and stand behind it, regardless of their personal viewpoint. Teams and organizations struggle when a member of the team goes rogue and does not own a team decision. For decisions that are mission-critical to an organization, the closer a team can get to consensus, the better.

For more on team commitments, see some the example of Executive Team Commitments from Alan Yordy below.

SAMPLE EXECUTIVE TEAM COMMITMENTS 

Behavioral Guidelines

Trust and Verify: 
Test assumptions and inferences

No Secrets: 
Share all relevant information

Be Clear: 
Use specific examples. Agree on what important words mean
Explain your reasoning and your intent
Expose the Elephants: Discuss undiscussables

Be Transparent: 
Express all concerns and relevant perspectives in, not after, the meeting

Full disclosure of conflicts of interest and personal biases

Be Respectful: 
Be tough on issues, not on people
Focus on interests and facts, not positions
Combine advocacy and inquiry: express your point of view and invite others to inquire about your comments

Decisions and Voting: 
Be mindful of the scope and consequences of decisions; transformational decision with widespread impact need more time for reflection and dialogue; less consequential decision should be made efficiently.

Decision owner and style are specified at the beginning of each decision item using the adopted decision-making model. Include this information at the beginning of each PPT.

Use the decision model to generate clarity and the level of commitment needed.

Only team members vote. No proxies.

Decisions Made/Decisions Honored: Once made, decisions are supported without fail by every team member in and beyond the meeting, even though we may not reach consensus.

Decisions Missed/Decisions Honored: If you miss a meeting; decisions are supported as if in attendance.

Decisions can be revisited if new information becomes available after the decision was made.

Celebrate and Renew: 
Celebrate and recognize collective achievements and those of individuals.

Recognize that we need to renew each other from time to time in the face of rigorous discussions.

Recognize that cultivating relationships among team members is important.