Synergistic Teams 1 A guide for effective teams.

Synergistic Teams
Synergistic Teams
A guide for effective teams.
Developed by Joe Halter
Synergistic Teams
Synergistic Teams
Synergistic Team Guide
“Teamwork divides the task and doubles the effort!” ---Unknown
Teams have become a very important role in the professional and personal lives
of individuals. With greater specialization in our global marketplace, individuals must
be able to coordinate their expertise with a variety of other specialist. The Synergistic
Team Guide is written to assist students at Moraine Park Technical College in a team
setting to accomplish team goals established by the course outline.
What is a team?
Two or more people:
Who are interdependent
– Interact on a regular basis
– Relay on each other
Who have a shared purpose
Benefits for Team Interaction
Synergistic teams provide for the following benefits:
Students are able to share their diversity of education, experience and knowledge
for the advancement of teams.
Learners can improve the quality process and product.
Teams increases productivity.
Teams increases involvement and innovations
Teams enhance diversity
Teams improve decision making
Synergistic Teams
On a typical day
On a typical day, do you function on a team more like a:
Dirt bike
Double-decker bus
Rolls Royce, or
How you respond gives you and your team member’s important information on how you
What are some of the challenges that you have experienced
with your student teams?
Synergistic Teams
Individual Traits
o Introvert & Extrovert
o Optimist & Pessimist
o Detailer
o Strategist
o Philosopher / Circular
o Romantic
o Linear
o Cautious
o Daring
 There is nothing right or wrong about individual traits
 How traits manifest in group dynamics affects the success of the team
 Individual traits may change in different circumstances
Synergistic Teams
Below is an example of synergy that nature provides us with geese.
This fall when you see geese flying south for the winter flying along in "V" formation, you might
consider what science has discovered about why they fly that way.
FACTOID: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates”uplift" for the bird immediately following. By
flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock has at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird
flew on its own.
LESSON: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they
are going more quickly and easily because they are working together and leveraging the
strengths of each other.
FACTOID: When a goose flies out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of
trying to go it alone. It quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of
the bird in front of it.
LESSON: If we have as much common sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those
headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others. It
is harder to do something alone than together.
FACTOID: When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation, and another
goose flies to the point position.
LESSON: It is sensible to take turns doing the hard and demanding tasks and sharing
leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent of each others skills, capabilities, and
unique arrangements of gifts, talents, or resources.
FACTOID: The geese flying in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to
keep up their speed.
LESSON: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is
encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by
one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of
honking we seek. We need to make sure our honking is encouraging and not discouraging.
FACTOID: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two other geese will drop out of
formation with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the
fallen goose until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out on their own, or with
another formation to catch up with their flock.
LESSON: If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by our colleagues and each other in
difficult times as well as in good times! Source: Franklin Covey
Synergistic Teams
Effective Teams Have
1. Clear Goals
2. Clearly Defined Roles
3. Effective Communication
4. Members who care about Team Success
5. Use of structure problem solving
6. Clearly defined decision making procedures and processes
7. Participation by all
8. Established Ground Rules, Norms, Code of Conduct
9. Accountability
10. Follow-through
Guidelines for Team Interaction
Focus on well defined issues & topics
Encourage participation from all and treat every member equally
One person talks at a time
Focus on problem solving, not complaining
Be open to any ideas
Define the decision making process
Be willing to support group decisions
Be positive and have fun
Synergistic Teams
Team Meeting Essentials
A clear objective
An Agenda
The right size of group
Leader and/or Facilitator, and Scribe
Shared set of group norms and expectations
Meeting Process
• Specify time frames, appoint timekeeper, scribe
• Set norms, what rules should be followed
• Explain the process
• Proceed to first agenda item
• Take pulse of members, read body language and facial expressions, “do we need a
• End meeting with an action plan:
• Assign tasks, time lines, next agenda items, evaluate meeting
Synergistic Teams
Tips for Team Meetings
• Start on time – everyone is busy and their time is valuable
Create and circulate an agenda, topics to be discussed
Work the agenda
Put a time limit on each topic
Put silent members to work
assign tasks
ask for input
Manage talkative members by
Refocusing on the agenda
Putting them to work, assign tasks
Write comments down
Ask them to wait their turn
Assign tasks and establish target end dates
Summarize agreements reached and plan for next meeting
– End meeting on time
Keep a written record and circulate
Evaluate the meeting
Don’t ask “Do we all agree”
Ask “Have we got a thorough solution that we can all accept and commit to?”
Synergistic Teams
Outline Team Expectations
Share ideas and brainstorm
Focus on facts
Listen actively, paraphrase to clarify ideas
Wait your turn – Everyone is heard
Do not push predetermined ideas
Put ideas in writing/use flip chart
There are no stupid ideas or questions
Think “outside the box”
No Zingers or putting down other team members
Strive for consensus – everyone feels they were part of the solution and can “live
with it”
Commit to decisions
Accept your part of the problem
Define roles and assign duties
Team Dynamics
• Identify what a team is and how teams behave
Recognize stages in team development
Recognize individual roles
Explore common team problems
Identify team improvement opportunities
Synergistic Teams
– Excitement/Anticipation
No common mission
Dependence on leader
Define: Mission, Purpose, Goals, Roles Ground rules
Manage and address conflict
Focus on issues
Team input
Re-evaluate roles and expectations
Building trust
Synergistic Teams
Power Struggles/sizing up
Subgroup or clicks
Conflict surfaces
Team is very dependent on Leader
Confront issues and support
Shared decision making
Balanced feedback
Problem solving
Actions plans – plan, do, check, act
Follow up
Comfortable with roles
More Trusting
Shared Values and Behaviors
Openness and feedback
Make decisions
Leader helps create team identity
Reinforce continuous improvement
Celebrate Successes
Synergistic Teams
Goal attainment
Members experience interdependency as they work singly or collaborate
to solve problems.
Leader helps expand team capability
Synergistic Teams
Team Conflict
Common Team Problems
1. Floundering
Teams commonly have trouble starting, performing, or completing project stages
Team is unclear or overwhelmed by its task
Team goals are not product of consensus
No clear plan, doesn’t know who is doing what or what to do next
Suggested Solutions for team floundering.
o Develop project plan
o Assign roles and responsibilities
o Create a time line
o Get input from all members
2. Steam Rollers
Hold an unusual amount of influence in a team because:
o In-depth technical knowledge
o Talk a lot, do not give others chance to contribute
o Discounts ideas by saying it won’t work, cites when it didn’t work in the
Suggested Solutions for steam rollers.
o Have members write down thoughts and share solutions
o Practice gate keeping and/or assign a gate keeper “thanks for your thoughts now
lets get an idea from someone else”
o Develop team guidelines. Get the team to agree on balanced participation
3. Reluctant Participants
Synergistic Teams
o Shy or unsure of themselves in the group, must be encouraged to contribute
o May not bring up data that is valuable to group or project
o Creates missed opportunities
o Contributes to Floundering
Suggested Solutions for reluctant participants.
o Structure participation same way as for steam rollers
o Directly ask for their ideas
o Does anyone else have ideas about this? (look at them)
o Encourage their participation by reminding of guidelines i.e. Balanced
o Have an agenda, assign them tasks to report out
4. Speeders
o Impatient and Results driven
o Opinionated
o Confident, state belief as fact
o Discourage brain storming
o Constantly communicate impatience
o Tend to jump to answers before defining problem
Suggested Solutions for speeders.
o Review meeting guidelines
o Remind them to be patient and respect others opinions
o Explain the principle of brainstorming and why it is important
Synergistic Teams
o Discuss why it is important to have an open mind
o Discuss the importance of reaching consensus
o Use a step-by-step interaction process (i.e. Plan, Do, Check, Act)
5. Other Team Problems
Discounts and Plops, input is not acknowledged by group, strategic silences.
Input was not clearly stated or was irrelevant
Suggested Solutions for other team problems
o Team/facilitator should help person articulate input
o Ask for clarification
o Repeat what they said in your own words, “I think what you are saying is…is this
o Avoidance, use written agenda, flipcharts, activities
o Feuding Team members, Group becomes a field of combat for members who are
vying for each other.
Have a private mediation session with them
Review guidelines
Let team respond to disruption, apply peer pressure
Synergistic Teams
Team Membership
Synergistic teams consist of members that have a diversity of skills and
knowledge to work together for the common cause of completing a project within the
guidelines and time frames established by the team members. The size of the teams will
consist of three to four members. Teams larger than four oftentimes results in conflicting
interest and schedules.
No single teams are permitted unless agreed to by the instructor.
In the event that a learner withdraws from the class and it compromises team
ability, a revision to the team or consolidation of teams may occur by the instructor.
In a situation where a team member is evicted from the team due to performance
issues and/or participation (see Dealing with Team Conflict), the instructor must require
the student to petition for membership to another team in a timely fashion. Thus team
activity and team member participation will be monitored by team members and reported
to the instructor if conflict arises. Failure to join at team will result in the student being
prevented from submitting assignments and earning a grade for the course. In this
situation, the learner should be encouraged to discuss options with a counselor on
Synergistic Teams
Project Management
• Project Management charts are an effective way to keep teams on track and help
define roles.
• Instructors may want to have student teams complete a project chart prior to
starting their projects
• Having a plan defines roles and accountability
• For more information on Project Management ideas see The Memory Jogger, A
Pocket Guide of Tools for Continuous Improvement & Effective Planning 1994
Teams are solely formed to produce a product by a certain time frame. Various tasks
(competencies) will be outlined according to the scoring guide from the learning plan that
must be presented according to standards. Learners will need to decide how those tasks
will be delegated, the level of quality and time frames.
It is important that each member identify areas of interest and skills to determine
tasks that members can effectively complete. The strengths of members should be listed
and task should be assigned based on this and disturbing the workload as evenly as
For further information, please see attachment on Synergistic Teams Win-Win
Team Agreement
Synergistic Teams
Sample Student Project Chart
(Steps to
the project)
may need
to be
that are
into tasks
Resources Comments
who will
be in
charge of
getting the
task done
Tasks or
blocks of
work that
must be
prior to
this task
Date task
end date,
due date
for task,
Any issues,
hold ups,
status of
task, other
Synergistic Teams
• Facilitation is a way of providing leadership without taking the reins
• Help team define goals and processes
• Guide discussions, keep on track
• Provide feedback
• Empower others to facilitate, share power, and leadership
Facilitators manage the process not the content.
Content = What
• Subjects for discussion
• Problems being solved
• Agenda items
• Goals
Process = How
• Methods and Procedures
• Tools, Processes used
• Rules or Norms set
• Climate
Core Practices
• Stay neutral on content
• Listen actively
• Paraphrase to clarify
• Ask questions
• Use flip chart
Synergistic Teams
• Keep time
• Summarize content to revive discussion
• Redirect questions or comments back to the team members to build on.
• Label sidetracks, “this is not on the agenda”
The Language of Facilitation
• Use your words to describe another person’s comments
Paraphrase continuously, especially if things are getting heated
• Repetition assures people their ideas are being heard
• Keeps emotions at bay
• Keeps everyone on track
Descriptions of Feelings
• Express your feelings to the group
• This lets others know it’s okay to express feelings
• “I feel frustrated”
• “That was a difficult topic, I’m exhausted”
• “Wow, I’m so happy we worked through this…good work”!
Facilitating Conflict
Healthy Debates
People are open to hearing others ideas
People listen and respond to ideas even if they don’t agree
Everyone tries to understand the views of the other person
People stay objective and focus on the facts
Synergistic Teams
Dysfunctional Arguments
People assume they are right
People wait their turn, then state their ideas without responding to ideas of the
other person
People get personally attacked and blamed
Hot topics get thrashed out in an unstructured way
Facilitating Conflict
Techniques that Create Healthy Debate
Stay neutral
Point out differences
Insist on listening
Make people paraphrase
Make people focus on facts
Problem solve
Invite feedback
Get closure and move on
How to manage venting
Slow things down, ask to start over and repeat key ideas.
Stay neutral – don’t take sides
Stay calm – do not raise your voice, speak slowly with an even tone, avoid
emotional body language
Revisit the norms/ground rules remind everyone
Be assertive: as a referee, insist that people speak one at a time
Synergistic Teams
Emphasize listening – paraphrase key points, define good listening skills.
Call a time out – “Are we making progress?”, “things are getting heated, is this
approach we want to take?”
Make interventions – Don’t let people fight with each other or be rude.
Make an impact statement. “Your side conversations are making it hard for me to
Sample situations
Redirecting Sarcasm – “your tone of voice is making it difficult to concentrate on
what you are saying, try again in a neutral tone”
Stopping put downs – “You have been, ‘yes butting,’ every suggestion from
Carol, try asking her open ended questions to understand her meaning”
Redirecting arguments, cutting each other off – neither one of you is listening to
these excellent ideas, “please paraphrase what the other is saying before
When everyone is silent – “Everyone has become very quiet, how can we get
discussion going again.”
Synergistic Teams
Other Notable Sources
Five Tips for Managing Group Dynamics, in meetings.
How to Conduct a Successful Meeting.
Team Process.
Team Building.
What is Team Building?
Teams MPTC Electronics Resources
Synergistic Teams
360 Feedback, The Powerful New Model for Employee Assessment &
Performance Improvement, Edward and Ewen 1996 AMA
Facilitation at a Glance!, Bens, Ingrid 1999 AQP
Teamwork and Team Play, Thiagarajan, Sivasailam 1999 JosseyBass/Pfeiffer
The Team Handbook, Peter R. Scholtes 1995 Joiner Associates
Ron Campopiano and Ann Mielke, In-service, Moraine Park Technical
College, August 2007
Covey, Stephen, 2007, Geese, Facilitators. Retrieved from