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Team working - how to get teams to work together

August 12, 2016


In our experience of coaching teams in business, it is common to find teams that are not working together and are dysfunctional. When we ask 'what is team working?' we find most are unable to answer with any degree of clarity.


The first step in building a team is to identify the common purpose for the individual team members, ie the common reason why they are there. See our previous blog on this subject.


The second step is to identify the team working behaviours that are appropriate to and agreed by the members of a team. Sometimes known as the 'rules of the road', these give guidance if members are unclear about how they should work together. Working behaviours must be understood and agreed by all members of the team.


Some examples of agreed team working rules might be:


  • No interrupting when a team member is speaking

  • No phone/laptops during team meetings

  • We give each other feedback using the Stop, Start, Continue model

  • Arrive on time to meetings


Each of these rules can have behaviours that describe positive and negative ways so people know the difference.


Sir Clive Woodward, manager of the World Cup winning England rugby team, had his squad of players define the behaviours that everyone agreed were examples of good team working behaviour, and published them in a little black book. This was given to new squad members when they joined the team, which helped them to know what good team working behaviour was - and wasn't. It also became self-policing because if someone broke the rules, the other team members told them that that was unacceptable as they had all signed up to the rules. It was also obvious to Sir Clive who did buy into the team ethic and who didn't, and the latter didn't end up on the final squad for the World Cup.


By helping dysfunctional teams to draw up their own set of 'rules of the road', it allows us to help

teams to iron out any difficulties and challenges they face as a team, and enables them to work together with a firm understanding of what is acceptable and what isn't.


This has the knock on effect of helping the managers deal with difficult performance issues which inevitably are the outcome of a dysfunctional team.


If you have any questions or would like to talk to us about how we might help build teams in today's environment, please email us at info@management-learning.co.uk

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