Putting the "team" in team member
Kentucky School Advocate
By Allen Kennedy
I personally believe being a team member is the key ingredient of collaboration and a working-together relationship. Don’t be misled by that statement; I am in no way saying we can’t agree to disagree – that is an essential part of the process.
Teamwork is important in the work place, in the boardroom and at school. This is the second part of a message that I began with my column in the July-August issue, based on Elliott Jaques’ theory as outlined in his book, Requisite Organization. Again, I like to refer to this as "A Leadership/Tasking Model." One can use these principles and accomplish any task as a team or individual, and at home, work or school.
One definition of a team member is: A person belonging to a specific group of people involved in attempting to achieve a common goal or purpose.
Here’s a real-life issue to illustrate this concept found in Jaques’ Eight Points of Team Membership process:
Our Hancock County Board of Education met to consider an increase in property taxation in the district. All board members contributed to the discussion. We listened attentively to each other’s thoughts and input. The decision was made to pursue a rate that would generate a 4 percent revenue increase and to notify the press of a scheduled hearing.
But then came the news that one of our major industries would be potentially closing its facility, resulting in a downsizing of 500-plus employees. This would have a major effect on our local economy. So as a board we started to clarify the task because of the recent developments. After additional consideration, a decision was made to impose a rate that would produce a 2 percent revenue increase instead of 4 percent this year, something board members believed we could do without adversely affecting the district. This is the point where we are now, and we will continue to monitor the task and accept coaching based on the changes that occur.
Now, let’s consider the membership traps: As elected officials, keeping quiet or not listening should not even be a consideration. We represent the public and, even more importantly, the kids of Kentucky. We each need to be focused on the task and how we can contribute to the successful completion. Fragmentation and the I-told-you-so syndrome is not an issue with our board, because we spend the necessary time to research and review the issues, while trying to reveal any unintended consequences. Once the news about our local employer broke, coaching within the team was very important; each team member needed to know what adverse effect the decision was going to have on the district. Intervention may be necessary if the process breaks down, but normally that is the exception, not the rule.
I hope this real-life example helps explain and illustrate the importance of team membership and the positive effect it can have on your district.
– Kennedy is a member of the Hancock County Board of Education
Eight points of team membership:
1. Be clear about the context and purpose.
2. Contribute to the "How."
3. Listen to others.
4. Accept decisions.
5. Clarify your task.
6. Concentrate on your task and cooperate.
7. Accept coaching.
8. Demand review.
Common leadership traps:
1. Keeping quiet.
2. Not listening.
3. Getting on with own work, regardless.
4. Doing other people’s work.
5. Wandering off/fragmenting the team.
6. Proving you were right.
7. Ignoring coaching.
8. Being afraid to take over.