Regular team maintenance is essential to keep your team performing
Over more than 25 years I had the privilege to work with many teams in a wide range of settings. They varied from localised, national project teams to very dispersed international teams, ranging from focussed business teams to works councils. Initially, I had the role of team leader, now, for almost 15 years already, I have been involved in teams as trainer and coach. Over the years I learned that having regular (at least once per year) “Team Maintenance” meetings can really help teams to stay successful and continuously improve their performance. Teams that invest in such meetings have a greater chance to become and remain high performing. In this blog, I share some elements which can be used in the Team Maintenance.
Investing in Team Maintenance pays off
As explained in an earlier blog, a proper Team Kick Off is essential for a team. This can help the team to get up and running quickly. In this kick-off emphasis is on getting to know each other, getting clarity on direction & roles and defining the basic playing rules for the team. However, as with your car and other equipment, regular maintenance and check-up is important as well. It is really funny that we accept that our cars need to have regular maintenance check-ups to stay in shape. Also sports teams have regular evaluations on how things are going in the team. Why don’t we apply the same for business teams? It is my firm belief that teams in a business context also get a great benefit from regular evaluation and check-up of the team processes and dynamics.
Strengthen personal interaction
My personal preference for Team Maintenance is to focus more on how things are going in the team than an in-depth analysis of what is being done. Perhaps obvious, but often neglected: it is important to give the team members time to get to know each other better. Preferably, this is already started in the Kick-Off meeting, but it can and should be strengthened further in subsequent Team Maintenance meetings. Getting a better understanding of the qualities in the team, strengths and weaknesses, and its diversity can help to build a stronger team. This Team Maintenance meeting is preferably face to face, but that is not always possible. In this case it is important to think about alternative ways to realise it. We believe that a properly designed virtual meeting can also be used as Team Maintenance. If you face such a situation, get in touch with us to assist you in a virtual Team Maintenance event.
Pre-work for Team Maintenance
It is my experience that a good Team Maintenance meeting needs proper preparation. It is helpful to gather objective information on the functioning of the team in advance. This can be done in various ways: use interviews with team members and perhaps even with key stakeholders, or use a questionnaire which needs to be filled in and analysed before the meeting. This questionnaire is preferably based on a theoretical team model which can be used during the Team Maintenance session. We have good experiences with the Lencioni model and are certified for using a.o. the Team Scan as developed by Challenge Learning.
Elements for Team Maintenance
Besides elements addressed in the team model that is used for Team Maintenance, it is useful in general to address at least the following elements during maintenance:
- Review goals and purpose as defined in the Kick-Off. It is important to see whether these are still valid or need to be adjusted due to changes in the team or the context.
- Review playing rules. Ideally, rules related to communication, decision making, internal meetings etc. have been defined in the Kick-Off. Reviewing the status and adjusting them, where needed, is crucial.
- Review outcome of the pre-work. It is important to analyse the feedback coming from the pre-work. This might lead to changes for the team and adjustments in the way of working. Let the team do their own analysis of the data, this will strengthen their commitment to the team and necessary changes.
We explore this and other business relevant subjects in our Virtual Leaders Lounge. This is an informal online meeting of maximum 10 business leaders where we discuss challenges in virtual teams and organisations and share best practices. No PowerPoint is used, no prep work required!