Defining The Characteristics Required to Form a Focused Team

A focused team consists of motivated people that are constantly adapting to ongoing challenges and that are using their collective resources to find innovative solutions to solve problems and achieve common objectives. What are the characteristics required to form a focused team?

 

My researches on leadership have given me the opportunity to observe a team of extremely mobilized people from the health care sector. Here are some of the characteristics that stood out:

 
 

They constantly remind each other of the common goal.

The main assets of a focused team are: the importance placed on achieving the goal, each team member’s motivation to achieve it and the constant reminders of it. Profit, power or even management-oriented goals (i.e. making money, dominating the market place, balancing the budget) are useful in keeping track of the main objective, however they are not strong enough to encourage every worker’s complete dedication and collaboration. The goals that can successfully mobilize every collaborator are those that satisfy an individual’s fundamental needs such as feeling useful, helping others or improving oneself.

 

The team I have been working with for over two months is from the health care sector. Although its goal is similar to other teams of the same field, their level of mobilization is much higher. The importance of achieving the common goal is extended to every member’s respective roles and responsibilities. In other words, every team member’s individual objectives revolve around the common goal, which subsequently guides every decision and action taken within the organization.

 

For example, for a given member of the organization, the goal is to treat every patient with the most efficient treatment. For another, the goal is to quickly deliver medical results to a patient. For another, this goal is to make sure that the hospital’s environment is adapted to the needs of its patients.

 

To build a focused team, the common objective needs to be clearly defined and communicated through both formal and informal discussions. The objective guides every worker’s actions and behaviors and becomes a rallying point for everyone because it fulfills and consists of the most noble aspirations of all.

 
 

They have an unbreakable and sustained social fabric.

The team I am currently studying also has an unbreakable social fabric which is sustained with constant care from all its members.

 

A team’s social fabric flows from the confidence in the individual and collective potential of all workers. It is achieved by acknowledging, remembering and congratulating the progresses, abilities and accomplishments of every individual. The entire team’s support as well as internal and external communications are factors that encourage the creation of a collective confidence.

 

As an example, defeats and difficulties are discussed openly within the team. Discussions revolve around the lessons that can be learned from mistakes and what current and future actions can be taken to improve the team. Instead of focusing on the problem or blaming others, discussing issues with a positive and constructive attitude creates a sense of progress.

 

The strength of the social fabric is created and reinforced by the determination and support of each member of the team: the quality of discussions, the collective ability to face challenges, the fun of working together and humor, which is also part of discussions. A focused team’s most important asset is its members.

 

What individual qualities are required to form a focused team? Here are some ways that the team leader can proceed in choosing and improving the capacities of his collaborators:

 

  • By selecting authentic and qualified individuals.
  • By continuously developing the abilities and strengths of each member.
  • By avoiding the following profiles : oppressive individuals who can discourage the team from taking initiatives; narcissistic individuals who can blame defeats on others and keep successes to themselves; and gossipers who can ruin reputations and prevent others from putting forward constructive ideas and approaches.
  • By having an implicit and explicit code of conduct to stimulate the team as well as the individual confidence of every member to accomplish their specific goal in relation to the common objective. The opposite of this code would be an environment tolerating the reprisal of others, the rejection of ideas, criticisms and the creation of rumors to ruin reputations.
  • By enjoying being a part of the group and by encouraging conviviality between team members, humor in discussions, the sharing of ideas and selflessness.

 
 

They have high-quality discussions.

The dialog of a focused team is characterized by authenticity, the respect of others and a collective search for ways to achieve the objective. Humor is another important quality in discussions because it alleviates tense situations and provides the opportunity to have fun and enjoy working as a team.

 

The interviews conducted individually with each worker demonstrate that in discussions, any subject is encouraged and that the individual’s responsibility to bring up the subject that they wish to discuss. The leader or figurehead has the ability to encourage high levels of dialog: he/she knows how to encourage discussions and invites all members to add tasks and goals to the agenda. The ability to manage discussions also includes pointing out diversions from the main subject and redirecting discussions towards another subject or a different aspect. In this team, a constant effort is made to insure the durability and strength of the social fabric. The discussions within it can be influenced by anyone, because there is a feeling of collective confidence between all members of the team.

 

The members of the team are experts in communication and can explore all the sides of a problem to find innovative solutions. The respect of individuals is inscribed in the team’s code of conduct. The common objective is the true leader of decisions and discussions can be elevated to superior levels of dialog. Communications within a focused team are not restricted by fears of being ridiculed or of losing the esteem of other members.

 

To conclude, the quality of the dialog of this team is not dependent of the relations between members. Communications between individuals of different teams are also encouraged as it is the mode of operation within the hospital. The actions taken by the hospital to encourage collaboration include: organizing activities to familiarize the members of the Team of Direction with members from the Administrative Board, conducting focus groups to obtain alternative opinions from patients, volunteer workers and interns and taking joint decisions (the medical and nursing staff) concerning medical issues. In this team, and in all the organization, every perspective is valued and related to the accomplishment of the common objective.

 
 

Conclusion

A team of mobilized people knows how to adapt its approach when necessary and to find innovative ways to achieve the common objective. The discussions in this team are elevated to the highest intellectual level of dialog and are influenced by the collective confidence in the abilities, skills, ideas and perspectives of every member. The focused team’s social fabric is constantly developed, sustained and guided by the desire to act for the common good.

 

Edith Luc, Ph.D

 
 

© 2011 Edith Luc, All Rights Reserved


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