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High Performance Team Building

A critical element in the establishment of a team is the development and acceptance of the team charter. The team charter defines the task, scope and boundaries in which the team will operate. In one sense the charter is the team's license to operate. Either organizational leaders or individual teams can create the team charter. No matter which approach to charter development is used the organization's leader or leadership group still must approve the team charter.

There are a number of elements that are necessary for the creation of any team. These include: two or more individuals, a common team goal, and the necessary resources of time, materials, space, and perhaps money needed to accomplish and then sustain the goal. High Performance teams learn and demonstrate behaviors that are not exhibited by most teams. These characteristics represent the essential elements of High Performance Teams.

In most organizations teams are formed to either make decisions or implement decisions. Decision making teams are usually made up of individuals who provide a variety of expertise and experience. Teams formed to implement decisions already made by others are usually selected to represent an area of influence or authority needed to achieve a successful implementation. High Performance Teams are expected to both decide how change is to occur and to be responsible for implementing the change. Selecting team members for High Performance Teams needs to take this dual role into consideration and choose both individuals who are thought leaders and influencers in the organization and individuals who have varied backgrounds and experience.

While High Performance Teams can be implemented to achieve any significant business purpose, they are most often formed to achieve dramatic improvements within processes. Processes are a series of activities that have a starting point and an ending point. In business the trigger or starting point of a process is often a customer order or request and the end point is the satisfaction of that order or request. High performance teams are usually cross-functional, that is, the teams are composed of representatives who understand one or more of the collection of activities that are performed by the process. A High Performance Operating Team will usually have a Process Owner who coordinates the teams activities and is the communication interface with the organizational world beyond the team.

Three key characteristics of High Performance Team building involve trust, respect,and support. Team members need to be coached in the need to trust and support each other. Support involves actively keeping an eye on the other team members and demonstrating a willingness to help each other out when help is needed--even when it might not be requested. Team members encourage each other to stretch beyond their comfort zone by offering advice or assistance when asked or when it is obvious that the fellow team member needs it.

High Performance teams are always conscious of quality and strive to improve the quality of their teamwork as well as the quality of their output.

A common practice for High Performance Teams to have one or more coaches. The team coach is responsible for teaching team building behavior. Coaches are also helpful in making certain that the team receives guidance and training as needs arise.

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