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

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

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.

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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