Teams and their typology. How to build a self-organizing team?
A business in which everything goes according to plan, and employees solve the tasks assigned to them and successfully circumvent all problems without the involvement of management, is an ideal that many companies strive for. Today we’ll talk about how all this can be achieved.
In order to begin to actively move towards self-organization, it is necessary first of all to assess the current situation. And to begin with, to answer the question: how is the work of people in groups organized within your business? All formats of organizing people into work groups or teams can be divided into four types.
The first type: a visionary group. In such a group there is a clear leader who inspires everyone, inspires. Such a group can be called a startup, where there is a clear leader who is the bearer of the idea and infects everyone else with his energy. The disadvantage of this type of organization is that as soon as the leader leaves, everything falls apart, because everything rests solely on his energy. For all its external exoticism, this is a fairly common type of organization.
And yet not the most common. The most popular in domestic realities is the second type of organization - hierarchy. A characteristic feature of such an organization is a clearly defined boss. The boss has subordinates, subordinates also have subordinates, and so on. This type is characterized by a complete separation of responsibilities. If a unit in this hierarchy has its own sphere of responsibility, it is usually strictly regulated, and the unit is responsible for the performance of these regulated functions.
It would seem that everything is strict and logical. However, if the task requires the sequential participation of several departments at once, the responsibility for the result may be blurred, since there is no one who is immediately responsible for the entire process. And even if such a person does exist, each individual executor often does not see the whole result, which means that he does not know how to improve it (and sometimes cannot): deviation from the official duties prescribed in the regulations in such companies is not particularly welcome).
Work in the hierarchy is quite boring and dull. In such schemes of motivation, there is simply nowhere to come from - a person does his job, and nothing more. Most often, in an attempt to artificially recreate it, management replaces the concepts of motivation and incentive (primarily monetary). Motivation is a person’s emerging desire to do his job, as he is interested. Here, interest will not arise, because the result is not visible, and the sense of meaning in relation to your work disappears. Therefore, managers are trying to somehow stimulate employees with money.
Another type of organization is an expert group. Each of the employees within such an organization is a specialist in his own narrow field, and there is a coordinator who is trying to bring everything together. The difference with the team (the fourth type) will be in the format of the relationship. Experts are not interested in what others do. They consider themselves to be quite important and status people, irreplaceable employees. At the same time, they do not let anyone into their area and do not try to get into the area of competence of other people. And each individual expert does not take responsibility for the result. Therefore, in such a situation, a centralized management style is needed; in this case, it is carried out by the coordinator, who should reduce everything to a single result.
The last type is a team. It is characterized by the presence of a common goal and common responsibility. This means that the team does not wait for the performance of individual functions from specific people - they expect the entire task to be completed. The team does not have strictly regulated processes and employee responsibility frameworks; the team is a whole. This approach leads to the fact that responsibility is not shared between people: each team member is responsible for the entire result. The consequence is mutual assistance. If suddenly someone doesn’t succeed or goes wrong, and the team members see this, they begin to help each other: this is a common cause, and everyone has an interest in a positive result.
In our practice, the following case has been met many times: a functional unit is created in the company when programmers work separately from testers and analysts. Programmers go about their business and request the necessary requirements. Analysts write requirements and try to “shred” code from programmers as soon as possible. As for the testers, even if they are not enough, no one will help them, since they do not allow themselves to be helped. If they miss a bug, they get a reprimand from their superiors. This is a typical picture that arises in functional units. We recommend such organizations to bring together analysts, developers, testers into one team and set the task of developing specific functionality. Then people begin to communicate with each other in a different way: they have a common goal.
How and from whom to assemble a team
It’s worth starting, of course, with the definition of the competencies necessary to solve the set goal and the selection of employees who possess these competencies. This is the "basic" level from which all further work on team building is built: if this item is not fulfilled, there simply will not be any sense in the rest - the assembled team will not be able to complete the task assigned to it.
Having gathered a group of people with the required competencies, you should try to study their values and beliefs. Each person has attitudes regarding how everything in the world works. Most of them are based on past experience. At the same time, each person has beliefs that he is ready to discard if the situation requires it, and there are basic beliefs or values. Values are those beliefs that a person is not ready to part with, even if the situation so requires. Therefore, if people with value conflicts find themselves within the framework of one team, then the conflicts in it will be insoluble.
When selecting people, it is necessary to ensure that value conflicts between them do not arise. For example, there is a person who does not want to write automatic tests. And for all attempts to convince him that they need to be written, certain standards must be observed, he replies that he does not need it. But other people work with its code, and they cannot live without it. Because if there are no autotests, they make too many mistakes. Nevertheless, it is not possible to convince a person, because he believes that this is nonsense and loss of time. It is very difficult for his colleagues to work with such a person. This is an example of a value conflict.
If you are sure that there are no value conflicts in the group, you should proceed to the final stage: assessing the differences between the group members (in tastes, temperament, etc.). Such differences lead to what is called synergy. A variety of opinions and points of view allows you to find the best quality solutions. Although in practice the opposite situation is often evident when one of the unwritten selection criteria for a leader is how much a person resembles himself (in temperament, in relation to any issues, interests, etc.).
Here, as in many other areas, it is necessary to try to maintain a balance: on the one hand, do not recruit people with pronounced value conflicts, on the other hand, support the formation of teams of employees with different interests and temperament. On the whole, this approach can be depicted in the form of a pyramid: the basis is the necessary competencies, the higher are the common values, and the pyramid completes the variety of points of view necessary for the synergistic effect.
Conflict is inevitable
It would seem that if a team consists of people with the same values, there should not be conflicts between them: on the main issues, they all share the same opinion, and can easily refuse other beliefs. Alas, this is not so: within the framework of a self-organizing team, conflicts are inevitable. The fact is that conflict is the mechanism through which people come to some one, probably the best solution. Of course, this does not happen easily. As the team grows older, people get used to each other, and conflict situations are resolved faster.
Tuckman’s model explains the steps in a team’s life cycle. The first stage is “formation”, team building. At this stage, employees look closely at each other and do not enter into direct conflict, because they do not know who they are dealing with. The second stage is called "storming" - the wave of conflict reaches its peak, and people begin to divide zones of influence. The third stage is “rationing”: roles are distributed, and people develop vowel and unspoken rules of interaction, understanding the team’s expectations. "Performance" is when everything is formed, the roles are divided, and the team can fully concentrate on solving their work tasks.
Understanding this model and identifying the phases of a team’s life cycle in accordance with it is important for several reasons:
- It is much easier to go to the “storming”, knowing that the deliberate avoidance of conflicts will not allow you to move forward: so you just get stuck in the “formation” phase.
- When you are already in the "storming" phase, it is important to understand: this stage will end sooner or later, it is not only inevitable, but also essential - without going through this phase you will not proceed to the next.
- Given this circumstance (Section 2), it is much easier to survive not only the peak of conflicts, but also the accompanying drop in productivity. Moreover, with this approach, it can be foreseen and the current tasks adjusted in advance based on the inevitability of “storming”.
The effective work of the team depends on the compliance of goals and objectives with its current state and capabilities. For example, if a team consists of young, inexperienced programmers, the goal of analyzing the marketing aspects of the product will be difficult for them. This goal is suitable for more experienced employees who understand the structure and objectives of your business. When the goal does not correspond to the level of the team (due to lack of competencies or level of maturity), the team is demotivated. On the other hand, in order to maintain morale, the goal level must be constantly increased, taking into account who is on the team and what these people are ready for.
Involvement in the workflow is easily accomplished with the help of facilitation - organizing a meeting with a clear task, for example, planning a release. All those invited to the meeting are participants in the process, stakeholders, and we need to decide what will be included in the next release. Developers are not always involved in such a discussion, but this is exactly what needs to be done - we involve each participant in the workflow so that he makes his contribution. Thus, people not only sit and “saw” their work tasks, but also participate in the general process of creating value at the stage of release, product design, etc. Self-organizing teams very quickly adopt this scheme of work and begin to conduct such discussions on their own.