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How to Roll Out a Team Culture in 3 Years (Yes, It Should Take That Long)


An organizational change as massive as moving towards a high performance, self-directed team structure should take nothing less than 2 to 3 years to implement fully.  The complexity of completing the workload, shifting accountability and power and building collaborative competencies needed at every level of the organization, as well as the general acceptance of the change, will take an average of 2 years to take root depending on whether it’s a brownfield (organization with a prior culture) or greenfield (new organization with no established culture).  While some great advancement will occur in the first year, an entire culture shift will take much longer.

Many organizations look for a road map when it comes to implementing teams.  While the approach may vary from organization to organization based on the current culture and experience with teams to the desired culture and use of teams, some basic elements are required for all.  When we can think of the road map in three phases it helps leaders see the progression that must occur for teaming to take place.  It’s also important to remember that when membership and/or direction of the team changes, the team goes back, even temporarily, to the “start-up” phase again.

“Start Up” Phase (6-8 months):

  • Team charter including agreement on goals and measures
  • Help/Hinder list and other protocols
  • Team Huddles and Team Meetings (agenda, scribe notes, action items) with coaching support
  • Simple, rotating team meeting roles
  • Process observer feedback and other team member feedback
  • Early consensus building
  • Expectation of team conflict resolution
  • Communication within/ outside the team
  • Weekly goal setting and task management
  • Increasing responsibility and authority via Hand-Off plan and RASCI Chart
  • Use of Team daily management system
  • Team training — basic
  • Star Points selected and being trained
  • Cross training on task knowledge
  • Team Assessments (thermometers)

“Growing” Phase (9-18 months):

  • Team scheduling of work and meetings with limited support
  • Set own team goals and agree on approach including work breakdown plans
  • Overtime and vacation time scheduling
  • Sharing work assignments
  • Conflict resolution between members
  • Team planning and problem solving (continuous improvement)
  • Full Star Point role implementation
  • New member selection and orientation
  • Cross-training on key roles
  • Training of new members
  • Conducting of 5S and other Lean audits
  • Team performance feedback
  • Team daily management system – including action items
  • Development of standard work
  • Make presentations to management
  • Increased responsibility for supervisory functions
  • Team Assessment:  22-point measure of progress

“Mature” Phase (18-36 months and continuous):

  • Problem identification and handling
  • Controlling costs/ budgeting
  • Greater participation in recruiting, hiring and orienting processes and/or team membership rotation
  • Analyzing team performance and conducting “lessons learned”
  • Redesigning work processes
  • Proposing new capital and process improvements
  • Visiting with customers; making presentations to customers
  • Proposing new business ideas
  • Greater responsibility for supervisory functions conducted by Star Point roles
  • Team performance management
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Interacting and negotiating with suppliers
  • Team assessment:  22-point measure of progress plus individual team member assessments
  • Greater linkage between team’s metrics and organizational metrics
  • Substantial use of sub-teaming to accomplish heavy workload
  • Integration of teams into systems like compensation, performance management, etc.

Teaming occurs on a continuum that begins with inclusion that results in an individual’s desire to engage and then based on the trust that’s built during engagement, the individual takes on more accountability and increased empowerment.  In the above phases, you can see where layering in the responsibility and accountability over time and providing enough time to learn and grow is necessary.  This also provides those that aren’t fit for a real teaming environment to eventually have a ‘decision day’ where they can decide whether to be part of the team or not (but we give them plenty of time to ‘try it out’).

Teaming is a slow, step-by-step trust-building process where individuals learn and experiment with new skills and gain a feeling of competency as the team matures.  Recognizing and supporting this continuum in your planning process for teams will help enormously toward their success. Be patient!

TBTK-Services-Catalog-ImageWant to know more about our Team-Building Tool Kit© services?  explaining our experience, services and 30-year, time-tested roadmap to implementing self-directed work teams.

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