Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Building Accountability in a Team Environment

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Why People Avoid Accountability

Going back to the lessons of your childhood you often heard things like, Sally do this! Joey do that! Mandy don’t do that! Ever since we can remember growing up, were we not “rewarded” for doing the right things, and “punished” for doing the wrong things? The ever-present fear of punishment feeds the blame game and discourages people from stepping up and taking responsibility, or risks.
The reward and punishment environment is perpetuated in our everyday lives, at the office, in business, socially, wherever people interact. It’s often disguised as being a useful motivational tool to achieve success, but in reality it only serves to encourage and foster the exact opposite effect...fear, censure, and shifting of blame, which ultimately leads to unlimited failure and failed dreams, rather than unlimited success. Being accountable does require a certain degree of emotional maturity, self-esteem, and courage.

According to MIT Information Services and Technology, a team is defined as,"People working together in a committed way to achieve a common goal or mission. The work is interdependent and team members share responsibility and hold themselves accountable for attaining the results.”

 K.Denise Bane, of Bloomfield College wrote an abstract titled: Avoiding Catastrophe: The Role of Individual Accountability in Team Effectiveness,
Ms. Bane talks about value of using games to teach the importance of individual responsibility and accountability, in enhancing the team’s effectiveness. Participants will be enabled to: (a) identify factors promoting team effectiveness, (b) discuss the role of the individual in the success of the team,c) use games to demonstrate individual accountability in team effectiveness .

In her paper, Ms. Bane mentions psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s model for developing individual accountability in a group/team setting. This model breaks down team building into five distinct stages:forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning in order to explain how people will better understand why problems may occur, and that things will ultimately get better in the future.

It’s suggested that the Tuckman model be explained to all game participants before they actually commence playing.
Tuckman Model for Developing Individual  
Accountability in a Group/Team Setting
Note:I would suggest reading chapter 8, “Enhanced Creativity”, for great ideas on how to make this stage a smooth and positive experience.

1. Forming
In the initial stage, team members get to know one another on a personal level. The individual's behaviour is driven by the need to “fit in” and avoid any controversy and conflict. Clear objectives, for both the team and each of its’ members are established. These objectives must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.(SMART) Team members tend to behave independently.
2. Storming
This is a growing stage where individuals share their ideas on how to go about reaching the team’s objectives. This stage can become destructive and painfully unpleasant for members of the team who are averse to conflict. There are bound to be differences between members, and mutual patience and tolerance must be emphasized. Judgemental attitudes have no place here. All opinions are welcomed. It’s important that team members learn about different individual work styles of and personalities of people, in regards to how they:
Relate to others
Gather and use information
Make decisions
Organize themselves and others

Here are the different work styles according to the The Margerison- McCann Team Management Wheel, followed by the personality type, according to the Enneagram Institute Personality System.  A knowledge of personality types will help make storming more efficient.

a) Reporter/adviser gives and gathers information.
      The investigator to be perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.
b) Creator/innovator comes up with new or different approaches.
      The individualist is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.
c) Explorer/promoter explores new ways to succeed and likes to promote the team.
      The helper is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive.
d) Assessor/developer likes to analyze new opportunities and make them work.
      The enthusiast is spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered.
e) Thruster/organizer likes to get results.
       The challenger is self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.
f) Concluder/producer works in a systematic way to produce outputs
        The achiever is adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.
g) Controller/inspector enjoys the detailed and controlling aspects of work
       The loyalist is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.
h) Upholder/maintainer upholds standards and values and excellence
       The reformer is principled, purposeful, self-controlled, a perfectionist.
i) Linker at the centre of the wheel, integrates and co-ordinates the work of others in the team. The peace maker is receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned.

3. Norming
The team selects one goal and establishes a plan how to attain that goal. All team members take the responsibility for the success of the team's goals.
4. Performing
By this time members should be motivated,knowledgeable,competent, autonomous and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channeled through means acceptable to the team
Although supervisors of the team during this phase are usually participating, the team will be making most of the decisions. Teams are free to revert to any of the earlier stages as they react to changing circumstances such as a change in leadership causing the team to revert to storming as the new person/people challenge the existing norms and dynamics of the team.
5. Adjourning and Transforming
The completion of the task and breaking up the team.
Celebrate the team's achievements.

Exercise 1 
AVOIDING CATASTROPHE:  one game suggested by Denise Bane

The children’s game“Cat-a-pult,” an interactive chain-reaction game distributed by HandsOnToys. It consists of five plastic catapults and foam cats. Each participant has a catapult and a cat. The object is to adjust your catapult so that, when launched, the first player’s cat will land on the second player’s catapult, triggering the second catapult, which launches the second cat in the direction of the third catapult, and so on. The team is successful when it is able to create a complete chain reaction involving all cats. Each team member is responsible for setting and adjusting their own catapult and cannot touch the catapults of his or her team members.

The game should be followed by a discussion period generated by these questions.
1. How can an individual encourage team effectiveness?
2. How did team members encourage their team members during the exercise?
3. How did “expertise” affect the outcome?
4. If an individual does not/can not learn his or her job, how does that affect the team?
5. What would have made the team more effective?
6. What hindered team effectiveness?
What lessons can you take away from this exercise?

Exercise 2
By watching Emmanuel,the hero of our story, we learn that we too can successfully acquire new habits and skills, by holding ourselves accountable to one or two, simple yet fixed rules. Consider one goal that you have set for yourself. What simple rule, mantra, or habit can you adopt that will keep yourself accountable in your quest for success?
If sustained accountability is new to you, don't be afraid to ask someone to assist you until you "get it". It could be a colleague or friend.
There's nothing wrong with paying someone do be your task master.
I would suggest that make it very clear that your task master has permission to be exactly that… a task master who excepts no excuses, no complaints, no whining.

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