Critical Team Conversations

If teams want to perform at their best, there are three critical conversations which need to take place. One conversation is about energy, the other is about autonomy, and the final conversation is about clarity.

1. The energy conversation

A high performing team is a team where members bring the best version of themselves. This means that all team members consistently show behaviors which enhance team energy, and refrain from behaviors which drain team energy. Here is how to have an energy conversation in a team: 

  • Start with a question: “We are at our best when….” 
  • Then, discuss which behaviors boost energy. Examples are:
    • Silence means that we are ok with what is going on.
    • The long term relationship with our clients is more important than short term transactional gains. 
    • We never hold people accountable for small mistakes on our way to achieve a worthy goal.
    • etc.
  • At every team meeting review these behaviors: 
    • Where did we show it?
    • Where didn’t we show it?
    • What will we do differently?

2. The autonomy conversation

A high performing team is a team where all team members have the freedom to do what it takes, while at the same time have clear boundaries to operate within. Here is how to have the autonomy conversation in a team:

  • Start with a question: “We have all the freedom to do what it takes, as long as….”
  • Then discuss which boundaries create the sandbox to play within. Examples are:
    • We stay within the agreed budget.
    • We immediately inform each other when we are about to introduce additional risk.
    • Silence means that we are on track to achieve the agreed upon objectives.
    • etc.
  • Create as few boundaries as possible, yet hold everyone strictly accountable to each of these boundaries.

3. The clarity conversation

A high performing team is a team where all team members are aligned and work on identical goals. Here is how to have the clarity conversation:

  • Start with a question: “What are the most important strategic goals for this team for this year?”
  • Then discuss the nature of these goals
    • The current state versus the future state (from —> to)
    • The order of the goals
    • The new behaviors required to achieve these goals
  • Decide a structure to review progress on each of these goals on a regular basis.

Which of these three critical conversations would have the biggest positive impact on the performance of your team?

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/olm26250/

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