Put This Into Practice: Creating a Dream Team

Creating A ‘Dream Team’

Objective

To improve the performance of a team, group, or committee through the establishment of behavioral norms and an accountability system created by the team members themselves.

Materials

Notebook paper, pens, sharpies, flip chart-sized Post-it notes or flip chart paper.

Time Required

45 minutes

Procedure

Step 1: Define the “Dream Team”

Each team member will write down an answer to the following questions:

  1. What are the characteristics of a “dream team?”
  2. What are the characteristics of a “dream teammate?”

Step 2: Categorize and Prioritize

Once each team member has listed his or her own ideas of how a dream team functions, share and compare the lists from each team member. Identify any items that appeared on more than one team member’s list. Combine similar ideas to narrow down the list.

Once everyone has shared from their list, start discussing which of these characteristics are the highest priorities for the team. Try to come to a consensus on no more than five norms for the team. (The more norms you have, the more difficult it is for team members to remember and follow them.)

Once you have the “fab five,” examine them to make sure they are positive statements; rephrase any negative ones. For example, instead of “don’t interrupt,” try “let people finish their thoughts.”

Now repeat the process for the second question, the dream teammate. Once you have both types of norms—team and individual—double check that every member of the team is willing to abide by this set of norms.

Step 3: Accountability

Once you have established the norms for the team and the behavior expectations for team members, you need to establish a method of holding team members accountable. No one is perfect! We all, from time to time, slip up. How we deal with that is as crucial to the team’s success as the norms themselves. When you decide who and how to hold teammates accountable, consider the following questions.

Is it better to have one person hold everyone accountable, or is it better to have the teammates hold each other accountable? Having the team captain or chairperson be in charge of accountability may seem like a logical job for the team leader, but it may not be the best approach. First, it puts that person in the position of being “the bad guy” who has to always enforce the rules. This can lead to the leader becoming isolated from the rest of the group. It can also lead to someone feeling that the leader is picking on them or singling them out. Since the norms were developed by the entire group, the goal is that everyone should be comfortable holding each other accountable.

How do we let someone know they are not following the norms? Doing so in front of the entire team is never the appropriate method. No one wants to be publicly chastised in front of their peers. It will usually lead to resentment, harassment by other teammates, or the teammate pointing a finger at the accuser or another teammate who may have also committed an infraction.

Processing

Once the team has its norms established, make sure they are easily accessible for the team to reference in the future. You can simply post the large sheets on the wall in the area where the team works to serve as a reminder of expectations.

Since these norms were developed collaboratively, students should have a greater sense of ownership of the expectations. Although each team will have its unique norms, you will probably see some norms that are common among many of the teams.


William Duncan is the activities director at Rio Rancho High School in Rio Rancho, NM.