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2.1 Develop Strategies for Facilitating Team Member Input into Planning, Decision Making and Operational Aspects of Team Tasks

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2.1 Develop Strategies for Facilitating Team Member Input into Planning, Decision Making and Operational Aspects of Team Tasks

A strategy is a plan of action specifically designed to reach a long-term or overall aim. Strategies may refer to a number of things. These include:

Strategies are either long or short-term plans to achieve a purpose. They may involve opportunities for things such as product improvement, efficiency of process, or development of input.

Facilitating Team Member Input 

It is essential to develop team members so that they can confidently contribute in planning, decision-making and operational aspects. As a leader, you ensure that your members willingly take part in these aspects. Here are some general tips in effectively eliciting contributions from them:

1. Try asking your team for proper feedback. 

Spend time actually listening to what your staff members have to say about the specific issue in question. It’s a simple thing to do, but they appreciate the fact that management asks for their opinions. By asking each team member for their feedback, this also allows each team member to participate in the discussion.

2. Listen and provide feedback in return. 

Provide positive and constructive feedback on given ideas to show that you have listened to their concerns and understand what has been said. By doing so, this allows your team members to know what they’re doing right and how they can further improve. Repeating back their ideas is a good way of showing you have listened. This can also help improve their confidence and encourage them to perform better.

3. Get communication going.

Encourage team members to be open and talk to each other. This may be most difficult in the beginning, but a simple ‘hello’ is an excellent place to start. It is important that everyone in the team – from those in the highest positions to those in the lowest positions – will participate actively and communicate with everyone else.

4. Further improve communication.

The communication shouldn’t stop with greetings and talk of business matters. Get to know your staff members better. Don’t just keep things professional, try to ask staff members about their day, show an interest in them and what they are doing outside of work. Treat them as a person rather than a staff member.

5. Whenever you make time for your team, always be sure to honour this commitment. 

Make your team feel like they are the most important part of the organisation. They do not want to be told that you are too busy to meet with them. This is likely to make them feel like you do not recognise the efforts they are putting into the organisation.

6. Make sure that your team understands that you have heard what they have to say. 

Your team wants to know that you are listening. You may not implement every change that they mention, but you should find ways to show them that you are paying attention to what they are saying. Repeat their ideas, note them and reference them in later meetings and discussions should they be necessary, and perhaps share them with senior management so that they can use your members’ contributions later on. Additionally, you may look into using your company newsletter or emails as a way of communicating your approval of ideas that have been made.

7. Prepare supervisors for any possible inquiries from the staff. 

Your supervisors are the individuals within your organisation that people will look to when they need information. Thus, you must ensure that they are treated well and are given all the information they need to be able to answer any questions the team may have. Supervisors need to be briefed on any major events that may be occurring to ensure that they can communicate changes effectively.

Team Planning

Planning is an essential aspect of every endeavour. In teams, it is crucial is to ensure that everyone is involved in this process. Doing so would not only increase their engagement but make them feel like their input truly matters, leading them to recognise their value in the team and encouraging them to work towards the execution of the plan actively and whole-heartedly. 

To ensure that you can actively engage team members in the planning process, three keys that would guide you:

1. Effectivity over efficiency

Although it is important to be efficient, it is more important to be effective. This means that you ought to select planning methods with the team in mind. Consider what would make your members more effective planners. This would include planning schedules, meeting places, materials and media to be used, etc. Although it may seem like allocating these resources would be wasteful, it would be beneficial in the long run as it would improve the quality of your plans. Efficiency tends to avoid extra efforts or expenses, but the truth is that you may need these in order to be as effective as possible.

2. Completely open communication

Communication is truly the key to success. When it comes to planning, it is crucial to truly encourage free discussion among team members regardless of their positions – this includes you. Don’t restrict anyone from speaking up and foster an environment that allows everyone’s ideas for the planning process to be considered. Likewise, it is important to set the right tone for planning meetings to ensure that everyone is willing to share their insights.

3. Using a facilitator

In relation to the last point, a key strategy for engaging team members in planning may be to hire a third party to facilitate the planning session. Without meaning to, having a superior lead the meeting would likely intimidate team members from genuinely being open. Having an external facilitator would make everyone feel more at ease. This is because the facilitator and not the superior would control the flow and direction of the discussion, and it would be easier for team members to see that you are, in this context, on the same level. 

Team Decision-Making

As it has been mentioned in the first chapter’s discussion on groups and consultation, decisions made by teams are superior to those done by individuals. Along with this, involving your employees in the decision-making process shows that you trust them and empowers them to be more confident and assured in their capabilities. Moreover, getting employees engaged in decision-making allows you to focus your attention to work in other areas. Here are three strategies you can try to involve team members in decision-making:

1. Suggestion Box

Good decision-making begins with good ideas. It is important to create a system that will allow your employees to give you any suggestions they may have. This may be a physical suggestion box in the office or a digital alternative (e.g., online form or site for sending suggestions). After setting this system up, ensure that you check it regularly and read through the suggestions. Moreover, make an effort to give employees feedback and take action on their recommendations as necessary. This is to ensure that they know their input is valuable and recognised.

2. Employee Surveys

Like the suggestion box, setting up a system for regularly asking for employee feedback through surveys proves to be an effective way to involve team members in decision-making. You may set the survey up through paper or electronic means. What matters is that you ask the right questions, and they can freely provide their answers. These would include their opinions, ideas, comments, and even levels of satisfaction with initiatives and projects. Upon receiving their feedback, collate results and use them to improve decision-making. Moreover, you may even reach out to specific employees who shared strong feelings and/or big ideas. Just remember to be non-threatening and welcoming, so they feel valued instead of intimidated.

3. Creating Teams or Committees

Finally, you can form teams or committees that would either have a general focus on your organisation or specific areas of concern (i.e., one team that focuses on marketing decision, another that focuses on product development). Once teams are in place, you can schedule regular meetings for generating ideas and making decisions. Alternatively, you can also set up a communication channel where ongoing conversations may take place. What is most important is that these teams are composed of employees of all levels and not just managers, so they feel that they are truly involved in the decision-making process of the company.

Operational Aspects of Team Tasks

Operational aspects refer to the work-related functions you perform that concern the day-to-day management of your organisation. Such aspects of work can be subdivided into three sources and categories. The three sources of work are:

  1. Life-cycle management – work involved in running the service your organisation offers
  2. Stakeholder interaction – maintaining relationships with your clients (service or end-users) as well as fulfilling their requests
  3. Process improvement and automation – efforts done for the continuous improvement of the organisation

All three sources of work would fall into three of these categories:

  1. Normal requests – regular and process work, non-urgent reports, informational queries
  2. Project work – efforts towards projects being managed and executed
  3. Emergency issues – urgent concerns and requests

To optimise team involvement in managing the operational aspects of work in terms of both the sources and categories, there are key strategies to note. These are:

1. Allocation of responsibility

The most effective way of ensuring involvement is effectively allocating duties among team members based on the three operational categories. Focus on project work would be the main priority for all team members at all times. However, everyone would have to take turns being responsible for taking normal requests and emergency issues. The responsibilities for these are referred to as ‘ticket duty’ and ‘oncall,’ respectively. This rotation of responsibility will enable differentiation of task that will keep the employees engaged and interested.

2. Scheduling rotations

Along with allocating responsibility, it is vital to set schedules for your assigned rotations. The key to scheduling rotations is noting the number of people in your team and dividing the work accordingly. For example, a team of seven can employ a seven-week cycle where each member is assigned a week to be on call and/or ticket duty, respectively. This method would allow team members to focus solely on their project-based work on every other week within the cycle.

3. Involving yourself in the operations

Finally, it is essential that you include yourself in the allocation of responsibility and the scheduling of rotations. Instead of merely assigning responsibility to your team members, lead by example and take responsibility too. As a manager, this would help you gain the respect of your people. Moreover, your involvement would further motivate your team to do the same.

As you can see, much of what a manager is required to do when dealing with their team is concerned with the way you communicate. You need to know when to listen and how to give feedback. Being open and honest with your staff will lead to significant dividends in terms of team performance. 

Regular team meetings are a good way to ensure good communication.

Participation

For initiatives to be successful, team members must willingly participate. This means taking responsibility for their work and also helping their teammates as necessary. Once again, this requires a working environment and team atmosphere that are open and cooperative. The first step in achieving this is working with the members to develop a list of duties and obligations for each member, including the team leader or chairperson. The checklist below can serve as an example for you and your team. You may use it as a guide for either individual reflection or for discussion among all team members.

Team Members:

  • Attend all meetings and actively participate in them
  • Take active responsibility for achieving the team’s mission and goals
  • Work to build effective teamwork and communication
  • Share responsibility for all team decisions
  • Share knowledge and expertise with the team
  • Support the team chair and provide leadership when appropriate
  • Represent appropriate stakeholder group(s)
  • Participate in training sessions as necessary.

Team Chairperson:

  • Ensures that each team meeting has an agenda
  • Increases the team’s effectiveness through team development activities in which the team reviews how it is working together
  • Follows up between meetings to provide support with completing assignments
  • Keeps the team informed.

These guidelines will enable issues, problems and concerns to be voiced by team members in a safe environment without judgement. This will help encourage them to come forward and contribute without fear.