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How to Create a High Functioning Team. Guidelines for “Management Communication for Undergraduates” (15.279) Sloan School of Management MIT Dr. Lori Breslow Fall 2005. What Will You Get Out of the 15.279 Team Experience?. Practice in teamwork skills Friendships A grade

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How to create a high functioning team

How to Create a High Functioning Team

Guidelines for

“Management Communication for Undergraduates” (15.279)

Sloan School of Management


Dr. Lori Breslow

Fall 2005

What will you get out of the 15 279 team experience
What Will You Get Out of the 15.279 Team Experience?

  • Practice in teamwork skills

  • Friendships

  • A grade

  • A richer sense of your

    • Skills

    • Propensities

    • Style relative to others

Communication for Managers


  • Three concrete tips

  • Four principles of communication

  • Where teams can get into trouble

    • Individual behaviors

    • Group social psychology

Communication for Managers

It s all about communication
It’s All About Communication

Practicing good communication skills


Refraining from communication roadblocks

Engaging in dialogue

Building trust

Being productive!

Communication for Managers

To communicate well
To Communicate Well . . .

  • Listen well

  • Observe carefully

  • Give feedback constructively

Communication for Managers

Communication behaviors to observe

Who participates

Who doesn’t

How do people take turns?

Who talks to whom?

Who responds to whom?

How are interruptions handled?

Is silence O.K.?

Is anyone dominating the conversation?

How are decisions made?

By consensus?

By voting?

By one person?

Communication Behaviors to Observe

Communication for Managers

Communication can go awry if we

Order or command

Warn or threaten

Preach or moralize

Cross examine

Label, evaluate, or judge

Tease or make light of

Respond with sarcasm

Avoid discussing an issue

Assume instead of listen

Forget differences in communication style may be related to gender or cultural differences

Communication Can Go AwryIf We . . .

Communication for Managers

Four principles of communication
Four Principles of Communication

  • All communication takes place on the content and relationship level

  • We cannot not communicate

  • Often the problem with communication is the assumption of it

  • Metacommunication is very useful

Communication for Managers

When you have built trust you have
When You Have Built Trust, You Have . . .

  • Acted with consistency and coherence

  • Demonstrated concern

  • Treated others with a sense of fairness

  • Fulfilled obligations and commitments

Communication for Managers

When you are engaging in dialogue you are
When You Are Engaging in Dialogue, You Are . . .

  • Seeing things from the other person’s perspective

  • Really listening

  • Expressing your concerns as your concerns, not as another person’s problem

  • Giving others a stake in the process or outcome

Communication for Managers

Three concrete tips
Three Concrete Tips

  • Use a facilitator/coordinator

  • Delegate tasks effectively, using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

  • Set some ground rules

Communication for Managers

Work breakdown structure
Work Breakdown Structure

  • Way to organize a series of tasks to accomplish a project objective. Consists of:

    • Hierarchical diagram of tasks

    • Person responsible for executing the task

    • Deadline to have the task completed

    • Interdependencies with other tasks

  • Each task in a WBS should contribute to the goal of delivering the required material on time and done well

Sample wbs planning a vacation
Sample WBS--Planning a Vacation

Trip to Florida

Christmas Break


Research and buy tickets


Research places to stay and make reservations


Find out about things to do

Water related




Facilitator coordinator

  • Why? If everyone is responsible, no one is

  • The coordinator/facilitator should

    • Focus the team toward the task

    • Get all team members to participate

    • Keep the team to its agreed-upon time frame

    • Suggest alternatives

    • Help team members confront problems

    • Summarize team decisions

Communication for Managers

Setting ground rules
Setting Ground Rules

  • Goals and expectations

  • Work norms

  • Facilitator norms

  • Communication norms

  • Meeting norms

  • Consideration norms

Communication for Managers

What makes teams troublesome
What Makes Teams Troublesome*

  • Individual behaviors

  • Group social psychology

    *Even people with good intentions can get into trouble.

Communication for Managers

Individual behaviors
Individual Behaviors

  • “Ego integrity”

  • Self-interest versus group interest

  • Inability to observe self and/or use feedback

  • Different styles of

    • Learning

    • Interaction

    • Expression

Communication for Managers

Group behaviors
Group Behaviors

  • “Defensive routines”

  • Us versus them

  • Reluctance to test assumptions publicly

  • Getting “off task”

  • Lack of boundaries

    • Ill defined roles

    • Unclear objectives and/or expectations

Communication for Managers

Common problems in teams
Common Problems in Teams

  • Hogging—talking too much

  • Flogging—beating a dead horse

  • Frogging—jumping from topic to topic

  • Bogging—getting stuck on an issue

  • Dead buffaloes—tiptoeing around a contentious issue

Communication for Managers