You want to encourage teamwork, so you organize employees in small groups and let them solve problems. That’s not enough. You must take steps to foster trust and collaboration if you really want your participants to produce outstanding results.

In Star Team Dynamics (Oakhill Press, 1999), Janelle Brittain breaks down the process of team leadership into three phases: planning, implementing and maintaining. By assembling a group committed to goal attainment, launching it in the right direction and managing turf wars and other threats to performance, Brittain says, you’ll have a winning team.

Brittain, a management consultant and trainer, devotes many pages to how you can fight resistance. She suggests that you break down the defenses of malcontents by keeping them well informed of your decisions and exposing them to leaders who’ve succeeded despite their initial reluctance to participate on teams.

She also stresses the need to assign roles to team members during meetings. By parceling out responsibility, you give everyone a sense of purpose.

The facilitator, like a master of ceremonies, opens the meeting and distributes the agenda. This person should set the mood by welcoming everyone, reviewing the goal and ground rules, and ensuring even the quietest team members get a chance to contribute.

The team leader serves as a team’s spokesperson and problem-solver. If the facilitator can’t control the team, the leader steps in to head off conflicts and redirect everyone’s focus. This person may also relay information from senior management.

The scribe notes all team decisions, votes and actions taken. These minutes become more than a summary; they hold participants accountable for following through.

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