Coaching HPT Teams Team Concepts Return to Main Page

Initial Team Agenda

Development of a High Performance Team begins with an initial meeting of all team members, coaches, and the team sponsor. Team coaches are usually responsible for developing the initial agenda for the team. After the initial set of team meetings, the High Performance Team will become responsible for determining the time, place, and elements for future agendas. Prior to the first meeting, team members should be notified that they are going to be members of a High Performance Team, the names of fellow team members, and provided a copy of the team charter.

An initial agenda for the team would begin with 15 minutes for introductions. The first substantive item on the agenda needs to be an explanation of the team charter by the team sponsor. Allow an hour for this topic. The team sponsor makes a short speech explaining why the team is being formed and why attaining the objectives are important to the organization. Team members will want further clarification on the team's objectives, and will usually have a number of scope and boundary questions. Additional questions may arise about resources. The team sponsor should be coached to expect these questions. If the sponsor cannot be present to explain the charter, it can be explained by the team coaches, although this approach is much less satisfactory. When someone other than the sponsor presents the charter, questions may arise concerning the sponsor's commitment to the charter and the sponsors willingness to support the coaches answers concerning available resources, scope, or boundaries.

Once the sponsor has answered all questions, the sponsor may leave the meeting or stay. If the sponsor stays, he or she runs the risk of being included as a member of the team. Depending on the sponsor's style of working with people and teams this could be positive or negative. A highly participative style decision making sponsor could successfully work directly as a team member. Someone who is more along the authoritative end of the spectrum will be tempted to control the team's direction and decision making, and consequently runs the risk of demotivating the team.

The third element of the agenda should include an explanation of the High Performance Team behavior by the team coaches. Allow one hour for this activity. The High Performance Team overview sets the stage for team development. At this initial point in the team's development, it may be enough to simply review the characteristics of a High Performance Team, spending a minute or two explaining each. The coaches should spend a few minutes explaining some of the philosophical underpinnings that support the creation and use of High Performance Teams. Coaches can explain why they believe that High Performance Teams will get results when many other approaches fail. If the organization is attempting to create a new team based culture, the coaches must be up-front and explain that intent. This is a good time for coaches to set the team's expectation that over the remainder of the agenda and during future team meetings, the coaches will be calling for the team to stop work and conduct team building exercises. Coaches should remind the team members that the team charter calls for their development into a High Performance Team, and that the coaches share a responsibility for the team's development. Therefore, as the coaches perceive that a certain aspect of team development needs to take place for team development to progress, the coaches will be stopping team working sessions to inject experiential training.

The next element of the agenda should include a team building exercise. Warp-Speed, is an excellent initial team building exercise because it allows the team to experience an initial success. However, if the coach perceives that the team shares a low level of trust toward each other or the organization's leadership, Willow-in-the-wind would be a better starting exercise. Allow 45 minutes for either of these exercises.

At this point, the team may need to be briefed by a series of knowledgeable speakers from various parts of the organization. Perhaps these individuals hold knowledge or information that the team will need to factor into its solution set. Or perhaps others have background information about similar efforts that have gone before. To the extent that the team's need for this type of information can be anticipated, speakers need to be scheduled to brief the team. Allow 45 minutes for each presenter. It may be necessary to postpone some presenters to the next day.

As the agenda fills toward the end of the first day, one and three quarters hours needs to be reserved for the following three agenda items. First the team needs to take thirty minutes to develop its initial set of team norms. Coaches should lead this activity and may show the team several norms that have been adopted by other teams. Coaches must be prepared to allow the team to develop or modify any norms that the team agrees on.

Next, the team should be given one hour to work together on their own. This agenda item is called "Begin Approach Development", or developing "the Big Idea." Its important that all team members leave at the end of the first day with a positive feeling that what they are being asked to accomplish is possible. The team charter outlined the team's objectives. This is a good point to ask if everyone understands what they are being asked to do. A shared understanding of the problem and challenges ahead set the stage for an initial brainstorming session on the solution or approach. At this point, most of the team members have one or more ideas about how the team can solve the problem, or achieve its objectives. Team members will be encouraged by sharing these ideas with one another. Also you can bet that the organizational leaders that nominated each team member will be checking with them to see if this High Performance Team thing is worth the investment. While some skeptical team members are to be expected, most can be won over if they are given an opportunity to talk together about their objectives and ideas for accomplishing them. If the initial team meeting was scheduled for a single day, an agenda item needs to be added at this point called "Next Steps". This involves asking the team to determine when and how it will meet in the future, and to develop a high level agenda for the next team meeting.

Finally the first day should end with a quality check and celebration. Allow fifteen minutes for this activity. Coaches begin by asking the team members, "In reviewing the activities we have covered today, which activities can be improved and how?" Anyone who still is having heartburn over being on the team, or the need for the team, or the objectives, scope, or boundaries of the charter, will probably express these thoughts now. If one of these concerns is expressed the coach should remain silent or ask for other team members thoughts on the question. Thus the coach allows team members who have a better understanding of the issue to explain the logic to the concerned team member. Coaches should attempt to approach such individual team members after the meeting concludes and assure that the individual's concerns are resolved.

The first day ends with a short celebration. The coach asks the team if they feel good about the day or asks the team if it feels like it has anything it wants to celebrate. The coach acknowledges any positive comments and leads the celebration.

If the initial team meeting is to extend to two or more days, the second and following days should begin with a review of the agenda for the day, followed by a High Performance Team building exercise. At this point, unless more briefings are carried over from the first day, the team is ready to grab control of the agenda and decide for itself how it wants to allocate the remaining time to accomplish its charter.

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Copyright (C) 1996-2002, Donald J. Bodwell. All rights reserved.