Dynamics of a team: creating a team manifesto, defining our principles and values

agile
'We like to bring together people from radically different fields and wait for the friction to produce heat, light and magic. Sometimes it takes a while.'

When you put a group of individuals together, don’t expect them to act as a team “in a magical way” from day 1.

'We like to bring together people from radically different fields and wait for the friction to produce heat, light and magic. Sometimes it takes a while.'

‘We like to bring together people from radically different fields and wait for the friction to produce heat, light and magic. Sometimes it takes a while.’ (author: Brad Veley)

Half a century ago, Tuckman already described the different stages of group development: the team model: Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing.

Tuckman 5 stages of team development

Tuckman 5 stages of team development

Tuckman stages of group development

Source: http://wheatoncollege.edu/sail/files/2011/12/groupDevelopment.jpg

Let’s explore the “dynamics” and emotional intelligence of a team and how a common understanding can help the team to get to a “well performing” state (besides the emotional intelligence, it’s absolutely necessary to have good technical skills and modern day engineering practices, e.g. in the context of product / software development – but that’s not the subject of this article).

It’s known that emotions and behaviours in a group are contagious and can have a dramatic impact on a team. After all, we are humans and not robots are we? You could say, one person is more professional than the other and can put aside any emotions in a professional environment. On the other hand, some degree of emotional binding is necessary to get to an effective team.

What’s important for a team?

We would like our team to be focused, be collaborative and have a sense for common purpose.

The key is to establish a social contract: a team manifesto.

A team manifesto is a team-designed agreement for a set of values, behaviors and social norms. It’s a vision for the team built on a common set of principles and values.

An example of the characteristics of a team with high positivity / high productivity (source: team coaching international)

Team high positivity high productivity

Team high positivity high productivity
Source: Team coaching international

In general, a set of positivity strengths and productivity strengths are necessary to come to a well performing team.

A team assessment by doing some team diagnostics can reveal the current state and determine points for improvement.

How do we get going to define a team manifesto?

In case of a new team, you can do a profile card exercise so that people get to know each other.

You can also do a personal agility rating exercise. This is useful for individuals themselves and for a coach as he can use this info to improve on agility on an individual basis in the future.

Next, you let the team define what it means to be a “team”.

We also let the team define what “quality” means.

The team discusses any other principles and values it considers important.

Next, the team garters all the input on a big flipchart or board and creates a team manifesto.

Create a manifesto

Create a manifesto
Source: http://www.slideshare.net/MelissaKane/create-a-project-manifesto

Please note: when working with multiple teams, the teams could define a manifesto per team – this seems the most natural as teams will be different. You could also define a manifesto on the level of the project / programme, including a vision for the product or service being built.

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