TeamTools Course Listing

TeamTools gives you unlimited access to an entire library of trainings designed to drive team effectiveness.

Courses are modular, and can be completed in individual parts, or combined into customizable learning tracks. Modules revolve around team workshops, interspersed with group and individual activities.


Using Principles, Guidelines and Boundaries

We've all heard the saying that two heads are better than one. People generally can accomplish more working together than they can individually. This is called synergy. Synergy means that the whole working together is greater than the sum of the individual parts working independently (1 + 1 =3 or more). Achieving true synergy within the team setting is no small task. Working together as a team can be frustrating. The challenge is to create a team environment where there is enough freedom for people to be creative, yet enough organization so that work can get done effectively and efficiently.

Making Group Decisions

When there is work to be done, there are undoubtedly decisions to be made. Making decisions in an effective and efficient manner is one of the most important skills for teams to acquire. Decision making is the skill that allows teams to transform ideas into specific, agreed upon actions. There are some real benefits to effective team decision making, but there are some real challenges as well. Team decision making does not come easy. For team decisions to be effective they must be timely, be of high quality and foster commitment in others.

Building Customer Relationships

Within high performance organizations, everyone has a customer. Regardless of what we are hired to do, we are doing it for a customer. In many ways, the customer's needs and expectations become the driving force behind the decisions we make and the problems we solve. It is crucial to build strong and continuously improving relationships with customers. The stronger the relationship, the easier it will be for your customer to communicate wants, desires, pressures and expectations. Your team will also be able to communicate your capabilities to the customer.

Working with Suppliers

More and more, our products and services are integrated with those of other teams to provide an end product to the customer. This often means that we place our name on company products and services that others have helped to create. Especially in today's global environment, products consist of parts that come from all over the world. The quote garbage in, garbage out could never be more relevant. It has become very clear to most corporations today that the end product is only as good as the components and services going into it. Likewise, what we get out of a supplier relationship depends a lot on what we put into it. It is essential to form relationships with suppliers who are keeping up with quality improvement, are on the leading edge of technology and offer a cost-competitive product or service that adds value to what we do.

Holding Effective Meetings

The average worker will spend anywhere from 10 to 50% of his or her time attending meetings. In one year's time, that equals anywhere from 26 to 130 days, or 192 to 1050 hours. Now multiply those numbers by your current salary. Then multiply that by the number of employees in your company. In fact on the average, approximately 20 to 40% of a company's employment costs involve people attending meetings. As organizations move to a more empowered work environment, where people are working in teams to solve problems and make decisions, the occurrence of meetings will increase. Obviously, given the amount of time people will spend in them, these meetings must be highly effective - they must be used as tools to help the teams improve.

Goal Setting and Measuring Results

Could you imagine playing in a championship basketball game, yet not knowing the score until the next day? How about entering a foot race and not knowing just how many more miles you had to run, not knowing your time and not knowing whether you were in first or last place? Naturally, that would be quite frustrating and probably demoralizing to most of us. Now, think for a moment, how often have you experienced that same dilemma at work. You're working really hard - you know that because you're really tired at the end of the day - but you have no idea how close you are to satisfying your customers. In other words, you don't know the score.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

An important characteristic of a team in a high performance environment is the ability and willingness of its members to coach each other so that individual and team performance continually improves. Coaching in this regard does not involve giving assignments, directing others or solving problems. It is a process of helping fellow team members succeed by giving feedback, sharing information, demonstrating new skills and reinforcing desired behaviors. In high performance organizations, coaching is the responsibility of all members.

Facilitating Groups

Facilitating group process means helping the team focus not only on what it does, but also how it does it. This usually requires a balance between concern for task and concern for how people interact (relationship). Traditionally, organizations and work groups have placed a lot of emphasis on analyzing the technical aspects of their work, in other words, the task. And when something goes wrong, usually a technical explanation is given. There has been much less emphasis placed on how the work group itself functions; how group members interact and what behaviors are most helpful to the group in accomplishing its work. Within high performance teams, group process becomes a very important element to team success. Group process is closely related to team commitment, communication and participation. Maintaining an effective group process is the responsibility of all team members.

Team Problem Solving

Today's standard of excellence may be tomorrow's standard of mediocrity. In order to remain competitive, problem solving must become part of the everyday practice of doing business. In fact, the ability to solve problems is one of the most critical skills a team can acquire. For problem solving to really work, people working in teams need a common process for sorting through problems and jointly creating practical and innovative solutions. These teams also need practical tools to assist them with each step of the process.

Tools for Problem Solving

The old adage, If the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything you see looks like a nail, all too often applies to group problem solving sessions. Often the problem solving method chosen is based more on the newest fad sweeping through the organization than on what makes the most sense in helping the group deal with the particular issue it is currently facing. Broadly speaking, problem solving tools can be categorized into two major headings based on the kinds of issues they are most effective at addressing: Technical kinds of problems and Social or relationship kinds of problems. Tools in the first category are most useful in addressing specific work process or quality related problems. The second category of tools are most useful in working on issues relating to personal and group interactions, relationships and development

Planning for Action

Planning is an essential function for high performance teams. We plan in team meetings, when working with customers and vendors, when solving problems and when figuring out how to get through the day. You may find that certain methods, steps or techniques described here will not fit every situation you face as a team. At times you may need a simpler, more efficient process. At other times, you may need additional steps and more detail. What is presented here should be used as a model that can be adapted, expanded or simplified in whatever way makes most sense for your team in a given situation. Two of the main reasons for planning projects are to focus the team's energy and increase involvement and commitment.

Team Communication Basics

Most of us would agree that communication is an essential element to team effectiveness. But how many of us find it difficult at times to express our point of view, or to understand the views of others? For most teams, communicating effectively does not happen automatically. It usually requires learning together a few common skills and basic techniques. This booklet will introduce some of those skills and techniques and will allow you to apply them to a number of team situations. Solving problems, brainstorming ideas, making decisions, resolving conflicts, clarifying expectations, planning projects and coordinating work schedules are a few examples. Naturally, all of us have our own style and approach to communicating. The skills presented here are not intended to make everyone sound and act the same. Rather, they should enhance your style and effectiveness, allowing your individual personality and talents shine through.

Building a Collaborative Team Environment

Building a collaborative environment is an ongoing process for any team. In many ways, that collaborative environment serves as the foundation for so many other aspects of team success. Collaboration enables the team to effectively manage conflict, make consensus decisions, develop new ideas, solve work-related problems, and continuously improve work processes. Without collaboration, these tasks become quite difficult and painful. We will take a close look at the six components of a collaborative team environment and provide you an opportunity to discuss how they apply to your team.

Managing Team Conflict

What does conflict mean to you? Many people think of conflict as a negative experience. They associate it with arguing or competing - where someone wins, someone loses, and lots of people get angry. However, conflict in the team setting need not be negative. Although conflict usually involves a certain amount of struggle, if managed effectively, that struggle can be a source of strength and creativity. One thing is for sure - where there is a team there is bound to be conflict. Conflict exists on teams because people care, people are different, people on teams are interdependent and people have expectations. Notice that these same four characteristics are what make for a dynamic and thriving team. Therefore, the key to team success is not to avoid conflict, but to use conflict in a constructive and positive way.

Team Member Roles and Responsibilities

To achieve high levels of team performance, team members must know what their respective roles and responsibilities will be. In fact, one of the leading causes of team breakdowns is lack of clear roles and responsibilities. Everyone must understand what each other has committed to do and what they can expect in terms of contribution to team result. When roles are not clearly defined, team members, in an earnest effort to do a good job, may find themselves butting heads, stepping on toes or failing to meet expectations. Therefore, time should be taken to discuss and clarify each team member's role and agree on what each member's contribution to team success. Clarifying team member roles and responsibilities is essential to a team just starting out, but can also be helpful whenever the team reorganizes, begins a new project, shift individual responsibilities, sets new priorities or needs to renew commitment to team goals.

Managing Team Performance

The word performance is one that gets used often in the work setting - it describes the effort we take to get work done and to accomplish results. Traditionally, it was our performance that we were evaluated on at the end of the year. Our manager was usually responsible for this evaluation and it typically involved filling out a standard company form. Quite often such evaluations included a performance rating which indicated numerically how well we met expectations. Managing performance today is still as important as it used to be. In fact, it may be more important. However, in team settings, the approach we take to managing and evaluating performance can vary greatly from traditional methods. First, the emphasis is on meeting not only the manager's expectations, but also those of the customer. Second, high performance organizations focus on managing performance of not only individuals but also work teams and entire work processes. Finally, managing that performance is not solely the responsibility of the manager. In most cases the team can and should play a big role in managing their own performance.

Selecting Team Members

As teams form and develop they will undoubtedly experience the need to add a new team member. This need may arise because of an increase in the workload or because specific skills or expertise are needed; or because someone has left the team and must be replaced. Regardless of the need, selecting the right person to join your team is a critical decision that can have a lasting impact on your success. Although self-managing teams can take on this responsibility, they must work very closely with their sponsoring manager and human resources department during the entire selection process. In fact, it may be worthwhile to involve them in the learning sessions associated with this module. Doing so will help to ensure that the efforts of the team are in line with the established methods and procedures of your organization.

Team Member 1

Today companies everywhere are trying to introduce high performance work teams into their operations. It has become clear over the last several years that these teams are an important foundation for improved performance and competitiveness. Why? The reason is simple: High performance organizations empower their people to use not only their hands, but also their minds, talents and collective expertise to make the organization more successful. While it is easy to understand that a company gains a great deal by encouraging people to participate in decisions, solve problems and share improvement ideas and knowledge, many work design practices of the past have actually discouraged these approaches. In fact, in some organizations the barriers to creating a fully empowered workforce are enormous.

Team Member 2

Organizations need people who are competent and skilled. Continual skill development and the acquisition of new knowledge is doubly important in today's workplace where technologies seem to change almost daily and fierce competitors emerge with little warning. Without a highly skilled, flexible workforce, most companies can no longer survive. This puts pressure on team members to constantly develop new skills and knowledge. This is a dramatic shift from the practices of the past that tended to emphasize specialization in one specific skill, and de-emphasized cross training and multi-skilling. Today, most people recognize the importance of being able to perform in a variety of different skills.

Trainer Basics

Trainer Basics Experienced team members can be called upon to perform many different functions, including peer or group training. That can be an intimidating assignment for anyone, especially first-timers. Trainer Basics is designed to take the fear out of facilitating training. It's thorough enough to deepen the skills of any trainer, even seasoned professionals. Participants learn that they don't have to be an "expert" on a subject to facilitate effective training. They see how to prepare for successful sessions with dozens of practical tips including Room setup, Mental Preparation, Ice Breaking, and Handling Mistakes. Thought-provoking case studies highlight ways to apply training concepts in real world situations. They discover how to enrich their presentations with basic adult learning principles. They examine Disruptive Behaviors and learn how to open discussions and unlock the training experience by using the questions, concerns and challenges of course participants.

Download sample worksheet

Want to see what a participant worksheet looks like? Download our workbook for "Creating a Team Mission".

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