Now – maybe even more than ever- critical work of schools and districts is being done in teams. Give those teams the right tools to soar! Collaboration almost always improves output quality, but the current environment has created some new team challenges and exacerbated some old ones. Some challenges we are currently seeing include:
- Technology – Navigating the technology and figuring out how to optimize team meetings in a virtual environment
- Virtual Meetings: Pressure for shorter meetings and less frequent meetings – given the quantity of meetings and people’s limited ability to stay virtually engaged or focused, there is pressure for shorter meetings and getting more done in less time.
- Making work, progress, and outcomes visible – many people retain best what they see, not hear, – whether virtual or face-to-face, teams need to document, make visible and share their work. Furthermore, without a visible, shared way to track action items and next steps, it’s easy for these to languish or be overlooked.
- Accommodating changing information, guidance, needs – as schools grapple with reopening in the midst of a pandemic, the information and environment is continually changing and evolving. Some teams struggle with being flexible and accommodating these changes.
So, what is needed for teams to really SOAR?
Structure – teams need a framework or way to get their work done. This could be TregoED process or any approach that allows them to effectively analyze information, draw conclusions, and produce tangible outputs. A shared structure ensures everyone is speaking the same language and can be part of the discussion – and it keeps people moving towards a common goal. This allows teams to make the most of their time together and to more easily pick up where they left off in previous meetings. Lack of structure means wasted time, unnecessary repetition, and halting progress. The absence of structure makes doing virtual team work particularly challenging.
Objectivity – pressing, complex situations and tasks create enormous pressures and conflict. Sometimes a team can only propose the best of some unattractive options. Opinions may be strong, and you can bet some people won’t like a team’s conclusions or recommendations. Effective teams, those with the right tools, handle conflict and heated emotion and strong opinions while never losing objectivity.
Agility – teams need to be open and flexible in responding to rapidly changing information, guidelines and situation requirements — especially in the current environment. Ironically, having a structure or shared approach for processing information and inputs helps teams be flexible while still being focused on what needs to be accomplished. Teams are able to more easily incorporate new information, understand where it fits and what changes it suggests.
Results – ultimately, the purpose of teamwork is to produce better results. Complex issues often require multiple action items and sub-projects. Successful teams ensure progress and accountability for action items. Ensuring that things get done – and done well – produces results.
Successful teams do not happen by accident. All teams can function effectively – even soar – when they have the right tools and supports!