The Single Most Important Question Your Team Should Answer
I am currently sponsoring a project with 10 team members in 6 global office locations, 5 divisions, and 4 time zones. Enough to make your head spin, right? I also just recently joined a newly formed Advisory Council for a non-profit. We held our first meeting last week, and it is an exciting time as we define our vision and goals for the group.
Both of these current projects have reminded me of a valuable lesson I learned from Duke University’s Coach Krzyzewski (“Coach K”) at this year’s Leadercast event. Whether you’re working with a team of 3, 10, 20, or more, all local or dispersed around the globe, it’s important for the team to answer this vital question in order to be successful:
How are we going to live?
It’s kind of like the rules of the road – pass in the left lane, stop at red, don’t text, so on and so forth. The same rules of thumb need to be identified by any team working collectively to achieve a common goal (project team, product team, department, committee, etc.).
Below are a few questions your team should ask itself early on to define your own “rules of the road”.
Why does your team exist and what specific objectives do you need to accomplish?
How will you communicate with each other? What tools will you use? Consider things such as frequency, times, and locations of meetings; online collaboration tools such as Google Docs and/or social platforms; email distributions, etc.
Roles and Responsibilities
What is each individual team member expected to contribute to the achievement of your objectives? Is there a team lead, project manager, facilitator, note taker, etc.? Do you have sub-teams charged to drive specific initiatives? Most importantly – who brings the coffee and bagels and who organizes the celebratory happy hours?
Boundaries and Levels of Authority
What decision making powers does each member of the team have? Who can approve expenses, and up to what amounts? What actions are team members empowered to take?
Relationships Outside of the Immediate Team
How will you work with other teams? Create Service Level Agreements where appropriate.
Standards/Code of Conduct
What behaviors does each team member expect from one another? Consider the following:
- Participation/attendance (maybe you even define required attendance levels)
- Sharing of duties – how flexible are your job roles? What is your overall philosophy toward helping each other out?
- Challenge one another, but in a respectful way
- Keep a positive attitude
One Final Note
When Coach K asked his U.S. Men’s Basketball Olympic Team how they wanted to live, they responded by saying, “always be on time to practice and always give it your all during practice.” In his past seven years as a Team U.S.A. coach, he’s never had anyone show up late and has never had a bad practice. Why? Because this rule was theirs. They owned it. They defined it. Therefore, they live it.
I encourage you to answer these questions with your fellow team members and document a charter for how you’re going to live.