Team Development for Executive Teams
LeMaSa had a hectic September 2011! We ran several Collaborative Development Assessment Centres and also participated in the virtual assessment of candidates for a Graduate Programme for Siemens in Germany. Sitting in South Africa and bringing together assessors, administrators and candidates on a telephonic platform was a challenge, but also a wonderful learning experience. We have experienced virtual Assessment Centres first-hand and this will assist us greatly in bringing this technology to South Africa.
In our July 2011 edition, we discussed the importance of organisation design and in this edition we expand on the process by explaining the steps and phases needed to do effective organisation design. We also have a brief look at the development of executive teams. From experience we know that Assessment Centres, linked to individual coaching, can play a powerful role in the overall development of executives.
Early in October I am going to attend the International Congress on Assessment Centre Methods in the USA. I am looking forward to telling you about my experience and the things that I have learned at the conference in the next LeMaSa Chronicle.
Many factors account for the success of an organisation. “However, few are more important than “the leadership process,” which is the way in which an organization’s top staff or managers work together to achieve busine ss resu lts. Do they have a common vision of the future and strategy to achieve that vision? How do they set goals and define priorities? How clear are their values? Do they “walk the talk?” Do they trust each other? Collaborate cross-functionally? How do they communicate? Are they able to talk about sensitive topics? How do they make decisions? Hold one another accountable? Balance daily urgencies against the long-term development of the organization? Work out inevitable conflicts and competing priorities?” (The Center for Organizational Design).
As soon as an executive team experiences changes, e.g. new appointments, it means that th e team has to clarify its “leadership process”. It also means that the team is probably experiencing the four stages in the development of a team as it comes together and starts to operate. This process as described by Tuckman, can be subconscious, although an understanding of the stages can help the group reach effectiveness more quickly and less painfully. The four main phases briefly entail the following:
· Phase 1: Forming
Individual behaviour is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others, and avoid controversy or conflict. Serious issues and feelings are avoided, and people focus on being busy with routines, such as team organisation, who does what, when to meet, etc. But individuals are also gathering information and impressions - about each other, and about the scope of t he task and how to approach it.
· Phase 2: Storming
Important issues start to be addressed and minor confrontations will arise that are quickly dealt with or glossed over. These may relate to the work of the group itself, or to roles and responsibilities within the group. To deal with the conflict, individu als may feel they are winning or losing battles, and will look for structural clarity and rules to prevent the conflict persisting.
· Phase 3: Norming
As Stage 2 evolves, the "rules of engagement" for the group become established, and the scope of the group's tasks or responsibilities is clear and agreed.
· Phase 4: Performing
Not all groups reach this stage, characterised by a state of interdependence and flexibility. The team members trust each other and roles and respons ibilitie s change according to need in an almost seamless way. Group identity, loyalty and morale are all high, and everyone is equally task-orientated and people-orientated. This high degree of comfort means that all the energy of the group can be directed towards the task(s) in hand.
There is a need at most organisations to develop the executive team’ s “leadership process” as a critical driver in the team’s ability to meet the demands of the business environment, execute its business strategy, build a culture of engaged employees, and succeed long-term. It is also necessary to ensure that the team works effectively through all the development stages to get to the “Performing” stage as quickly as possible.