By Bob Frisch

The trouble with cross-functional team decision making is the process itself. To improve their teams’ decision-making processes, leaders must first acknowledge that decision making is problematic because each member has constituencies in the organization they are vying for. Leaders can improve the decision-making process by:

*Clearly articulating the outcome. When the outcome the team wants to collectively accomplish is unclear, individual members can choose options based on unspoken assumptions.

*Providing a range of options for achieving outcomes. Leaders must ensure that there is a broader range of options beyond “accept the proposed plan,” “reject the proposed plan,” and “defer the decision.”

*Testing fences and walls. When team members encounter a presumed boundary, they must take the time to determine if it is an immovable “wall” or a “fence” that can be moved.

*Surfacing preferences early. To focus a discussion, leaders must survey team members before meetings and identify their preferences.

*Stating each other’s pros and cons. Leaders should make sure both sides of every option are thoroughly voiced. This often requires assigning a devil’s advocate to make counterarguments and depersonalize the discussion.

*Devising new options that preserve the best features of existing ones. If a team has reached an impasse, it is often necessary for it to reframe its options in a way that preserves the original intent.


EI in groups


By Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff

Although group Emotional Intelligence (EI) can help skilled teams reach their highest potential, it is far more complex than individual EI and therefore more difficult to cultivate. To build group EI, a team must be aware of and constructively regulate the emotions of:Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.54.50 pm

*Individual team members. To understand the sources of individuals’ emotional behaviors, members can perform role-playing exercises and adopt the opinions and styles of others. To regulate individual emotional behavior, teams must learn how to constructively confront others.

*The whole group. Teams must use self-evaluation and feedback from others as norms that cultivate group self-awareness of their emotional states, strengths, and weaknesses. To regulate group-level emotion, teams must establish norms that create resources for working with emotions, foster an affirmative environment, and encourage proactive problem solving.

*Other key groups. Teams can cultivate awareness of the emotions of other key groups by having team members act as liaisons to important constituencies. To regulate the emotions of other key groups, it is necessary to develop cross-boundary relationships in which appreciation is shown.


Coaching modelsFullSizeRender-3

A coaching model is a framework; it does not tell you how to coach but, rather, it’s the underlying structure that you can use when you’re coaching someone. It’s like having a high-level strategy that allows you to “see the battlefield,” therefore increasing your ability to respond adequately to whatever situation you’re faced with.

Two popular coaching models are the FUEL model and the GROW model. The FUEL model finds mention in the book The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow, by John H. Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett. John Whitmore popularized the GROW model in Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose — The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership.

Let’s take a brief look at both these models.

FUEL model

The four steps in the FUEL model are:

  1. Frame the conversation — Set the context for conversation by agreeing on purpose, process, and desired outcomes of the discussion.
  2. Understand the current state — Explore the current state from the coachee’s point of view, expanding his or her awareness of the situation to determine the real coaching issue.
  3. Explore the desired state — Articulate the vision of success and explore multiple alternative paths before prioritizing methods of achieving this vision.
  4. Lay out a success plan — Identify the specific, time-bound action steps to be taken to achieve the desired results, and determine milestones for follow-up and accountability.

Frame the conversation. Framing the conversation ensures that the coach and the coachee agree to be in the same conversation and makes explicit what the conversation is about. It is important to remember that the coach owns the process, whereas the coachee owns the content of the conversation.

  • Identify the behavior or issue to discuss.
    • I’d like to talk about this issue . . . [if the coach initiates the conversation]
    • What is the most important thing for us to focus on? [if the coachee initiates the conversation]
  • Determine the purpose or outcomes of the conversation.
    • By the end of conversation, I would like to accomplish . . .
    • What else would you like to make sure that we address?
  • Agree on the process for the conversation
    • Here’s how I thought we could proceed . . .
    • How does that sound?

Understand the current state. As the coach begins to understand the current state, he needs to maintain a curious mind-set. As a coach, you play two key roles during this stage of the conversation: acting as a mirror and being a great exploration guide. Asking open-ended, nonleading questions allows greater insight and clarity to both the coach and the coachee. It is important to understand that people will not change until they feel a need to change. The coach needs to offer his or her perspective only when it adds to the conversation and creates greater awareness for the coachee.

  • Understand the coachee’s point of view.
    • How do you see this situation?
    • What is happening?
    • What is working well?
    • What makes this challenging?
    • How might you have contributed to this situation?
    • How might others see this situation?
  • Determine the consequences of continuing on the current path.
    • What impact is this having on you? On others?
    • What are the consequences if the situation does not change?
    • How does this influence your goals and what you are trying to accomplish?
    • What are the long-term implications?
  • Offer your perspective.
    • Could I share some observations I made?
    • Could I offer some other consequences to consider?

Explore the desired state. It is of utmost importance that the coach does not rush the coachee into problem solving — it needs to be slow and deliberate to create the ideal vision and generate alternatives for achieving the vision. The coach must negotiate and influence as to what would form part of the minimum measures of success. If the coachee gets stuck, the coach should step to his or her side and become a brainstorming partner.

  • Understand the vision for success.
    • What would you like to see happen here?
    • What would your ideal state look like?
  • Set goals and performance expectations.
    • What are your goals? What would you like to accomplish?
    • Here’s how I see it . . .
  • Explore alternative paths of action.
    • What might be some approaches you can take?
    • What else might work?
    • Could I offer a couple of thoughts? You might want to consider . . .
  • Explore possible barriers.
    • What are the major barriers preventing this change from happening?
    • Where would the biggest resistance to this change come from?

Lay out a success plan. In the last step, the coachee needs to articulate specific action steps to gain clarity as to what needs to happen next. This will provide the coachee with a clear vision on the goal to be achieved. The coach assigns timelines to the action points for follow-up and accountability. The coach finds creative ways to support the coachee in achieving his goals.

  • Develop and agree on an action plan and timeliness.
    • What specific actions will help you achieve your goal?
    • What will your first step be?
    • Who can help hold you accountable?
    • How long will you stay focused on your goals and plans?
  • Enlist support from others.
    • Who can support you in moving forward?
    • How can I support you?
  • Set milestones for follow-up and accountability.
    • Let’s review the plan.
    • When should we touch base on this again?

GROW model

The GROW Model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring your coaching or mentoring sessions. GROW stands for Goal, Current Reality, Options, and Will or way forward. A good analogy about the GROW model is to think how you would plan a journey. You initially decide where you are going (goal); understand where you currently are (current reality); explore various routes to your destination (options); and finally proceed on the journey (will), successfully overcoming any obstacles you may have along the way.

Like most coaching models, the GROW model assumes that the coach is not an expert in the client’s situation. He only acts as a facilitator, offering advice and helping the client choose the best option of his own volition.

Establish the goal. First, the coach and the coachee need to look at the behavior that they want to change and then structure this change as a goal  to achieve.

With respect to setting goals, it is important to distinguish between end goals and performance goals. An end goal is the final objective — become the market leader, be appointed a sales director, win the gold medal, etc. — which is seldom within your control. A performance goal identifies the performance level that will provide a good chance of achieving the end goal. The performance goal is largely within one’s control and generally provides a means of measuring progress. Examples could include “95 percent of production to pass quality control the first time,” “Reduce weight by ten pounds by December 2013,” etc. An end goal should, wherever possible, be supported by a performance goal. The end goal may provide the inspiration, but the performance goal defines the specification.

Besides supporting an end goal with a performance goal, goals need not only be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound) but PURE (Positively stated, Understood, Relevant, Ethical) and CLEAR (Challenging, Legal, Environmentally sound, Appropriate, Recorded).

When doing this, it’s useful to ask questions like:

  • How will you know that you have achieved the goal? How will you know that the problem or issue is solved?
  • Does this goal fit with your overall career objectives? And does it fit with the team’s objectives?

Examine the current reality. The coachee is asked to describe his or her current reality. Too often, people try to solve a problem or reach a goal without fully considering their starting point, and often they are missing some information that they need in order to reach their goal effectively. It is in the reality phase that the questions should most often be initiated by the interrogatives “what,” “when,” “where,” “who,” and “how much.” How and why should be used only sparingly or when no other phrase will suffice. The reality answers should be descriptive, not judgmental, to ensure honesty and accuracy. The answers must be of sufficient quality and frequency to provide the coach with a feedback loop.

Questions include:

  • What is happening now (what, who, when, and how often)? What is the effect or result of this?
  • Have you already taken any steps toward your goal?
  • Does this goal conflict with any other goals or objectives?

Explore the options. The purpose of this stage is not to find the “right” answer but to create and list as many alternative courses of action as possible. The quantity of options is more important at this stage than the quality or feasibility of the options. It is from this broad range of creative possibilities that specific action steps will be selected. The coach would need to create an environment in which the participants feel safe enough to express their thoughts and ideas without inhibition or fear of judgment from the coach or others. Once a comprehensive list is prepared, the Will phase of coaching may be simple, selecting the best from the list. However, in certain complex cases, it may be necessary to reexamine the list by noting the costs and benefits of each course of action.

Typical questions include

  • What else could you do?
  • What if this or that constraint were removed? Would that change things?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  • What factors or considerations will you use to weigh the options?
  • What do you need to stop doing in order to achieve this goal?
  • What obstacles stand in your way?

Establish the will. The purpose of the final phase of the coaching sequence is to convert the discussion into a decision.

Useful questions to ask here include:

  • So what will you do now, and when? What else will you do?
  • Will this action meet your goal?
  • What could stop you moving forward? How will you overcome this?
  • How can you keep yourself motivated?
  • What support do you need?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, what is the degree of certainty you have that you will carry out the actions agreed?
  • When do you need to review progress? Daily, weekly, monthly? 

Finally, decide on a date when you’ll both review the coachee’s progress. This will provide some accountability and allow for a change in approach if the original plan isn’t working. Thanks scrumalliance.FullSizeRender-3



By Lynda Gratton and Tamara J. Erickson

The successful execution of a major initiative requires a complex team comprised of many educated specialists from diverse backgrounds. However, while the complexity of a team may be beneficial to an initiative, it can also make collaboration extremely challenging. To maximize the effectiveness of large, complex teams, the following eight practices are recommended:

1. Invest in building and maintaining social relationship practices. Executives can build and maintain social relationships throughout their organizations with “signature practices,” or highly visible investments that demonstrate commitment to collaboration.

2. Model collaborative behavior. Executive teams must support a culture of collaboration by making their own collaborative efforts visible to the rest of their organizations.Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 01.28.49

3. Create a “gift culture.” A “gift culture” is one where employees view interactions with leaders and colleagues as valuable and generous. This can be cultivated if executives embed mentoring and coaching into their routine behavior and throughout their companies.

4. Ensure the requisite skills. Collaboration improves when HR departments teach employees how to build relationships, communicate well, and resolve conflicts.

5. Support a strong sense of community. People are more likely to reach out to others and share knowledge when they feel a sense of community. HR can foster a community spirit by sponsoring events like networking groups or weekend gatherings.

6. Assign team leaders who are task- and relationship-oriented. The most successful team leaders are able to be task-oriented in the beginning stages of a project and shift to being relationship builders as conflict between members arises.

7. Build on heritage relationships. As people are reluctant to share knowledge with strangers, it is necessary to ensure team members know one another.

8. Ensure role clarity and task ambiguity. Cooperation increases when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined but the path to the achieving the team’s goal is left somewhat ambiguous. Task ambiguity promotes creative thinking and collaboration.



By Diane Coutu

Teams consistently underperform, despite the extra resources they have, because of problems with coordination, motivation, and competition. Team expert Professor J. Richard Hackman argues that while even the best leaders cannot guarantee that their teams will deliver results, they can increase the likelihood of their success by setting the following conditions:

*The team is “real.” Leaders must be ruthlessly clear about who is on the team and who is not. Sometimes this requires forcing ill-suited members off the team.

*The team has a compelling direction. Leaders must articulate a clear direction to ensure members do not pursue different agendas. Members must know and agree on the work they are collaborating on.

*The team has expert coaching. When it comes to group processes, teams need guidance from expert coaches who can:

*Run launch meetings to orient team members with the tasks at hand.

*Help teams conduct midpoint reviews to determine what is working and what is not.Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.55.15 am

*Regularly reflect on finished work to identify successes and shortcomings and how members can make the best use of their experiences the next time around.

*The team has a designated deviant. To avoid complacency, leaders must assign “deviants,” or naysayers who challenge their teams’ desire for homogeneity.

Leading with RESPECT

Teams of all types have the best chance to become SuperTeams when their leaders understand the critical importance of RESPECT. This includes the following elements:Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.55.05 pm

*Recognition: Making sure that people are recognized individually and appropriately for their contributions.

*Empowerment: Giving team members the autonomy and decision-mak ing authority they need to get things done.

*Supportive feedback: Providing prompt, actionable feedback on a routine basis.

*Partnering: Acting as an ally and advocate for team members.

*Expectations: Ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and equitable.

*Consideration: Recognizing that team members are human and need understanding and thoughtfulness.

*Trust: Demonstrating confidence in team members by trusting them with important tasks.

Trust importance

Trust is the foundation for respect, and vice versa. On a SuperTeam, trust is a core characteristic that gives people the freedom they need to share information, work collaboratively, and provide critical feedback to other team members.

Trust enhances efficiency and effectiveness by reducing the need to communicate; people who trust each other to get a job done do not need to check in with each other, check up on one another’s’ work, or fear that anyone is pursuing a personal agenda. There are five important ways to build trust:

1. Overcommunicate. The more people communicate, the more they are trusted for their transparency.

2. Give trust. When people feel trusted, they are more likely to return that trust.

3. Ask for feedback. Asking others for feedback is a way of showing trust in and respect for their opinions.

4. Disclose. People who share personal information and get to know their teammates enhance others’ trust in them.

5. Be someone who can be counted on. Trusted members on a team are willing to help others when they need it.




Recognition is a very powerful tool. People who are recognized for their efforts on the job feel respected, validated, and secure. They are more likely to engage, work harder, and feel better about what they do. Conversely, when their productive behaviors go unrecognized, people are less likely to repeat those behaviors.

Recognition does not come naturally to most people. Team members and leaders need to make recognition a priority by using simple tools like writing thank you notes, sending e-mail “shout outs,” or taking deserving individuals out for coffee.


When employees are empowered, they can think, behave, and act autonomously. They are able to maximize their potential as team members and their opportunities to succeed, which leads them to take initiative and achieve more success. Unfortunately, there are many forms of resistance to empowering people, including:

*Team leaders who fear that giving autonomy and authority to others diminishes their own importance.

*Team leaders who lack knowledge of how to empower others.

*An unwillingness to spend money on training that is necessary to help people succeed.

On a SuperTeam, strategic development plans are created for every member. Team leaders determine when and what type of training is needed, and seek appropriate new challenges for everyone. Relatively inexpensive ways to enhance the empowerment process include:

*Offering cross-training so team members can support and cover for each other.

*Auditing the team’s skills in order to address talent needs.

*Establishing clear decision-making boundaries.

*Learning not just what the team is doing, but why things are done a certain way.

Supportive Feedback 

Supportive feedback involves sharing straightforward, constructive perceptions and advice to help people improve. It should be encouraging, specific, and actionable. On a SuperTeam, feedback is both given and received respectfully; the giver shows respect by caring about the recipient’s growth and development, while the recipient shows respect by being open to the feedback and appreciative of the giver’s effort. Moreover, SuperTeam members take the initiative to ask each other for feedback.pphoto

It is not easy to provide supportive feedback, but there are ten specific ways that SuperTeam members can improve how their feedback is structured and delivered:

1. Ask permission. When people give permission to a provider of feedback, they are less likely to react to the feedback defensively.

2. Pull the individual into a discussion of what went wrong. This approach is more effective than when a feedback provider simply pushes a point of view.

3. Focus on behaviors, not attitudes. When people improve their behaviors, their attitudes change as well.

4. Avoid judging or preaching. Assume the individual welcomes an opportunity to perform more successfully.

5. Show empathy. People who have experienced poor outcomes feel vulnerable and appreciate a feedback provider’s understanding.

6. Comment on what worked as well as what failed. This approach enhances the feedback recipient’s perception of fairness.

7. Take a TeamWe approach. Feedback to a team member should be given in the spirit of collaboration.

8. Seek to understand. Instead of making assumptions, the feedback provider should ask questions about what happened from the recipient’s point of view.

9. Speak from an “I” perspective. Feedback providers must recognize that theirs is a personal perspective, and that they should be open to the perspectives of others.

10. Be straight. Feedback should be delivered in a straightforward way, not watered down or obfuscated.


SuperTeams go beyond collaboration; they work together to partner in ongoing, committed relationships where each member has the others’ interests at heart. These partnerships may be short or long term, formed to accomplish specific tasks or to achieve visionary goals. They may include other teams both inside and outside of organizations.

Unfortunately, many partnerships fail to realize their true potential. Based on the authors’ research, failure can most effectively be avoided when teams pay attention to 12 key organizational and interpersonal factors:

1. Clear and compelling vision. The efforts of partners may be misaligned in the absence of a shared vision.

2. Core values. There should be partnership agreement on the principles that determine what is important to all members.

3. Culture. Culture is the underpinning of social mores and how things work in a partnership.

4. Clear roles and responsibilities. All members must clearly understand what they are counted on to do and what will be done by other members.

5. Complementary roles and synergy. Teams often include people with different but complementary skills and abilities. To function as partnerships, team members need clarity about what talents are needed and how to obtain them.

6. Cross-training. In powerful partnerships, people are trained to be able to support and cover for each other.

7. Competence. Partners take responsibility for helping others learn the skills they need or shift roles to take advantage of their strengths.

8. Clear performance goals and expectations. In a partnership, people’s performance can be clearly evaluated based on criteria that everyone knows.

9. Commitment. Partners are committed to the team for the long term and are willing to address any weakening of commitments that may occur.

10. Collaboration. Partners collaborate not only to accomplish specific tasks, but also to build relationships and support each other.

11. Character. Personal integrity of all members is an indispensable element in effective partnerships.

12. Communication. Partners must have open lines of communication at all times, especially when there are relationship problems.

RESPECT : key for team

Throughout human history, respect has been a cornerstone of functioning societies. Social order arose from people’s respect for their leaders and gods. Highly respected people were protected from harm and given access to superior food, shelter, and other resources.

Respect, or success in influencing others, is also a basis for power. Powerful individuals are skilled at getting others to listen to them and to act in accordance with their opinions and desires. However, if these people lose respect, they also lose their influence.

In the workplace, respect is the foundation of engagement; employees engage when they feel respected and disengage when they feel disrespected. On a SuperTeam, it is critical to foster respect on both interpersonal and technical levels, and members must see each other as trustworthy, kind, and supportive in order to get the job done. There are ten respectful workplace behaviors that individuals should aspire to:

  1. Being punctual to meetings and considerate of others’ time.
  2. Giving credit where it is due.
  3. Being supportive of others during meetings.
  4. Encouraging the contributions of others during meetings.
  5. Giving full attention to others when they speak.
  6. Asking people before putting them on e-mail lists.
  7. Asking team members about their personal lives.
  8. Asking team members for advice.
  9. Offering to help other team members.
  10. Inviting coworkers to lunch.

Conversely, there are also ten common behaviors that communicate disrespect:

  1. Gossiping.
  2. Being late.
  3. Accusing or placing blame on others.
  4. Berating others.
  5. Bragging.
  6. Being dictatorial.
  7. Being condescending.
  8. Withholding information or providing misleading information.
  9. Inappropriately copying others on e-mails.
  10. Dismissing others’ opinions.

The most extreme form of disrespect is bullying, a pattern of intimidating, threatening, and humiliating others that is estimated by the Workplace Bullying Institute to be experienced by 35 percent of workers. Unfortunately, bullies are often tolerated because they are viewed as valuable to their organizations. But for a SuperTeam to function effectively, it must hold bullies accountable for their actions. As soon as bullying behaviors occur, individuals must be confronted, spoken to, and stopped.

Superteam : engagement

A team is comprised of two or more people working together toward a common goal. A SuperTeam goes beyond the performance of ordinary teams to consistently deliver superior outcomes relative to customer expectations. Critically, SuperTeam members do not pursue personal goals or agendas; they are solely focused on achieving success as defined by their customers.

Engagement is a measure of employees’ commitment and how vigorously they apply their talents and energy to the job at hand. High engagement on a team means that members:

*Willingly exceed what is required.

*Are not derailed by challenges and problems.

*Are proactive.

*Hold themselves accountable for results.

*Work collaboratively and synergistically.relationalskills

SuperTeams need TeamWe players. These are people who are engaged not only with their own work, but also with the work of other members. They take responsibility for, provide constructive feedback to, and help one another. They avoid the behaviors of TeamMe players who are selfish, disloyal, and committed only to their own advancement. Some highly engaged people may be superstars, or standouts in terms of talents and efforts, but in order to contribute to SuperTeams they must be willing to focus their attention on the accomplishments of their teams, act as coaches or mentors, and serve as role models for less skilled team members.

Fundamentally, building teams is about building relationships. When team members barely know each other, it is hard for them to be engaged with others’ work. Conversely, personal connections–often created in simple, low-cost ways like holding team pizza parties–lead to the mutual commitment that characterizes SuperTeams.