Teamwork: 20 Steps To Success Throughout your internship, you will likely be working closely with other people in the organization, either as a member of a

Throughout your internship, you will likely be working closely with other people in the organization, either as a member of a team or perhaps as an internal consultant. In either case, your capability to communicate and work effectively will be tested. The following exercise will help you become more aware of and practiced with a variety of necessary soft skills. You will perform some self-evaluations and reflect on the material presented. Areas covered in the readings may include team process, team leadership, communication, active listening/questioning, individual responsibility to the team, personal initiative, and others.

Located in the Purdue Global Library is an ebook entitled Teamwork: 20 Steps to Success. For this assignment, read each chapter, then select five areas that you feel are important to a successful team.

Reflect on the information contained in the selected readings. Compare the ideas, concepts, and skills with your own experience (both past experience and your current internship work).

Explain how your experiences are the same as or different from the material presented in the readings. Describe areas where your current team process and/or personal practice is less than optimal and could be improved by implementing one or more of the ideas under consideration. Highlight how you can make use of any of the ideas presented to improve your results in the workplace.

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AN: 320157 ; Parker, Glenn M..; Teamwork : 20 Steps to Success
Account: ns019078.main.eds

20 Steps to Success

Volume I of The Parker Team Series

“Successful teamwork requires doing lots of ‘unspectacular little
things,’ such as having a clear purpose, building effective relation-
ships, honoring your commitments, and an obsessive concern for
communicating information.”

– Glenn Parker

GLENN PARKER

H R D P r e s s , I n c . • A m h e r s t • M a s s a c h u s e t t s

TEAMWORK

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Copyright © 2009, Glenn Parker

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or
by information storage and retrieval system, without written
permission from the publisher.

Published by: HRD Press, Inc.
22 Amherst Road
Amherst, MA 01002
1-800-822-2801
413-253-3488
413-253-3490 (fax)
www.hrdpress.com

ISBN 978-1-59996-171-2

Editorial Services: Robert W. Carkhuff
Production Services: Jean S. Miller
Cover Design: Eileen Klockars

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START WITH TEAM GOALS.

3

here does a team begin…and end? It all begins with a goal.

Call it a vision, a mission, a purpose, a charter, as long as

the team has a clear sense of where it’s going.

Goals provide the overall direction for the team, and are often

sketched out by senior management. It is then up to the team to

translate those goals into specific performance objectives, such

as “Reduce the December reject rate by 25 percent” or “Increase

the customer satisfaction rating for 2008 by 10 percent” or

“Reduce the waiting time for patients in the emergency room to

10 minutes by June 30, 2008.”

When it comes time to measure the team’s success, we return

to our goals again. If the team’s goal is to produce such-and-such

new product with such and such specifications by the third

quarter of this year, how will you know the results? Did the team

meet its timetable? Include all the required specifications? Stay

within the budget? Objectives become the scoreboard, because

they tell us how we’re doing. So, first and foremost, a team has to

begin with a good, solid goal.

W

A team goal is a clear, specific statement of 
the desired outcome. All team goals should 
be S.M.A.R.T. 

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Team Objectives

are S.M.A.R.T.

4

PECIFIC: The outcome or end result is very clear to
everyone.

EASURABLE: You can tell if you have achieved your goal
because you can count it or see it.

TTAINABLE: While achieving the outcome may be a
challenge, it is possible with current team resources.

ELEVANT: The objective is in line with the direction
provided by senior management, and supports the strategy

of the business.

IME-BOUND: All goals must be achieved within a particular
time period such as by the end of the third quarter or by a

specific date such as June 30.

Quick Team Check:

Are all your team goals SMART?

Does your team have a set of clear objectives to reach
the goal?

S
M
A
R

T

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road 
will take you there.” 

            – Chinese Proverb 

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SELECT THE RIGHT PEOPLE.

5

Most team problems and even most downright team failures can

be eliminated if some thought is given to who should be on the

team. Most of the time, we just accept the hand we’ve been dealt.

A team leader will usually be told, “We want you to solve this

problem by this date, and here are the people we want you to

work with.” Little or no thought is given to the people selected

for the team, other than that they might have the skills and

expertise needed to solve the problem. However, skills and exper-

tise are not the only factors to be considered—in fact, studies of

successful and unsuccessful teams clearly show that teams don’t

fail because they lack technical expertise—they usually fail

because of such people problems as conflict among team

members, poor leadership, lack of involvement and commitment

by team members, and ineffective meetings.

Senior management sponsors and team leaders who are

responsible for selection should look for people who have suffi-

cient technical skills, but more importantly, they should also:

Be willing and able to share their expertise with others.

Feel comfortable with and enjoy working with others in
groups.

Communicate ideas, information, and opinions clearly and
easily.

Remain open to new ideas, different points of view, and
feedback from others.

Complete all work assignments on time (show that they’re
dependable).

Support and work to implement all team decisions.

Raise questions and concerns about the team’s goals, meth-
ods, and problems.

Pitch in and help other team members.

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It Takes Time But It’s Worth It

6

A large pharmaceutical company started a major initiative to

reduce so-called “cycle time”—the time it takes to get a product

produced and delivered to the customer. It took a team

approach, and set-up teams that included representatives from

operations, quality control, materials management, marketing,

logistics, and purchasing. It was felt that the people closest to

the key stages of the “cycle” would have the most knowledge

about ways to reduce the time from raw materials to the final

product.

Senior management sponsors wanted the teams to be com-

posed of technical whizzes who were team players. As a result,

they talked with department heads and made it clear that they

were not interested in just warm bodies to fill slots on the

team—they wanted team players! Later, when they assessed

the program, team selection was identified as one of the key

success factors. And while senior leaders admitted that it took

some extra time to get the right people, they believed that it

was well worth it, because the teams succeeded in dramatically

reducing cycle time and significantly increasing that all-impor-

tant cash flow.

“Our objective ought to be to have a good 
army, rather than a large one.” 

          – George Washington 

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DEFINE EVERYONE’S ROLE.

7

Once the team’s goals are set, it will be time to define the roles of

everyone on the team. Careful role clarification can eliminate or

at least minimize conflicts down the road. While everyone has a

defined role as a member of the team, all teams have certain

common functions that need to be filled. Assignments to these

roles do not need to be permanent; in fact, many successful

teams rotate these roles from time to time.

TEAM LEADER: Elected or appointed, the team leader ensures that

the work gets done by coordinating task assignments, providing

resources, managing outside contacts, as well as being a contrib-

uting team member.

TEAM FACILITATOR: The team facilitator can be the team leader or

an outside expert. He or she manages the discussion and guides

the decision-making process of the team by getting everyone in-

volved, keeping things on track, resolving conflicts, summarizing

ideas, and identifying what needs to be decided.

TEAM RECORDER: Sometimes called a scribe, the recorder records

the team’s decisions, action items, and other information in notes

or formal minutes. This information is used to summarize the

meeting, and serves as a permanent record and reminder to all

members of team actions and decisions.

TEAM SPONSOR/CHAMPION: The sponsor is generally a manager

who charters the team, provides the initial goals, authorizes

resources, removes barriers, monitors team progress, and

supports the team throughout its work.

TEAM COACH: As the name implies, this person is the team’s men-

tor, advisor, and trainer who works with the leader and team

members, but does not direct the team.

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Role Clarification

Exercise

8

Some organizations do not have the luxury of having each of

these roles filled by a different person. The team leader often

wears the facilitator’s hat, but the facilitator might also have to

be the scribe and the sponsor might have to serve as the team’s

coach.

We haven’t forgotten the members of the team. Each indi-

vidual has a role that is based on what they’re expected to

contribute to the team.

What is expected of individual team members? Mature

teams that get derailed find this exercise a good way to get

back on track and prevent problems down the road:

EXPECTATIONS EXERCISE

Ask each team member to answer these questions. Then set

aside some time to discuss everyone’s answers.

What do you think you are expected to contribute to this
team?

What do you think other team members do not
understand about your role?

What type of help do you need from other team members
in order to carry out your role successfully?

“The world is not interested in how many storms you 
encountered, but whether you brought in the ship.” 

                    – Anonymous 

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EMPOWER THE TEAM.

9

What is often forgotten in much of the discussion about the

amount of authority a team should be given is the importance of

speed and empowerment. Speed is a competitive advantage: The

more a team is empowered to act, the quicker that a customer

request will be filled, the sooner that new idea will get to the

market, and the faster that product will come off the line. That

translates into customer satisfaction, market share, cash flow,

sales, and profits.

Empowerment typically refers to the authority given to a team

or individual to make decisions about certain defined aspects of

their work without checking with anyone. Some managers are not

comfortable delegating important decisions, and some team

members lack the confidence to take on more responsibility.

Therefore, it’s important that the sponsor and the team discuss

the authority the team is being given as it relates to the work.

Here are some questions for discussion:

What kinds of decisions is the team empowered to make on
its own?

What kinds of decisions will be made jointly by the team
and the sponsor?

What kinds of decisions will be made by the sponsor or
other manager, with input from the team?

What kinds of decisions will be made solely by the sponsor
or other manager?

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Do whatever it takes.

10

A considerable amount of time and effort goes into selecting

the right people for a project team, but the success of the team

will depend on many things, including the motivation and

commitment of each individual member. Empowering the team

is key to keeping it motivated and challenged. One mid-size

publishing company on the West Coast found a successful road

to team empowerment that made managers and team members

all feel comfortable. Each project team developing new prod-

ucts, enhancing existing products, or preparing new business

strategies was required to produce a detailed project plan. The

plan included specific objectives, a detailed time table, and a

budget.

Each team’s plan was reviewed with the team’s sponsor and

revised regularly so it conformed to overall corporate guide-

lines. However, once the plan was approved, the team was

empowered to “do whatever it takes to accomplish the plan.”

The sponsor’s role was to provide all the necessary support.

For this organization, empowerment gave teams the freedom to

act, as long as it was within the context of an approved plan.

“Managers fear losing control, but employees very 
seldom ‘push the button.’ Knowing that they could is 
what counts. It makes them feel respected, trusted, and 
appreciated.” 

                  – Frank Navran 

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OPEN YOUR TALENT BANK.

11

Teams need talent. They need skills, knowledge, and what is now

referred to as “emotional intelligence” to get the job done. You

can’t have a high-performing team with low-talent team members.

Most teams have the talent—in fact they have more talent

than they realize. Teams are like individuals—they rarely work up

to their potential and rarely use all or even most of their expertise.

We like to put people in boxes and keep them there. It’s easier

to pigeonhole a person in one slot than to think that they might

have a variety of talents. If you’re an accountant, you’re a “bean

counter” and thus can’t possibly know anything about customer

service, right? And if you’re from human resources, you’re one of

those “touchy-feely” types who have never run a real business. If

you’re an engineer, you have to “go by the book,” so there’s no

way you have the flexibility to consider a new and daring product

idea. And on and on…you get the idea.

The really effective teams open a talent bank that brings out

the past experiences, underutilized skills, and specialized

knowledge of team members.

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you 
never take.” 

          – Wayne Gretsky 

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Inventory Your Team Talent

12

Try this exercise to inventory the talent on your team: Have

team members “interview” each other and record what they say

in response to these questions:

1. Talk about your past work experiences—the types of jobs,
projects, and companies you’ve had some experience with.

2. Tell me about your past team experiences—the types of
teams you’ve been on, team roles you’ve played, as well as

the successful and unsuccessful team experiences you’ve

had.

3. Describe your operational skills—the things you can do,
equipment you can operate, and systems you can use.

4. Describe your specialized knowledge—the information you
have and education you’ve completed.

5. Tell me about the interpersonal skills you possess and can
use (emotional intelligence).

Share this information with the other team members and the

sponsor. It can then be used to develop the team plan and make

work assignments.

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately 
curious.” 

                – Albert Einstein 

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APPRECIATE STYLE DIFFERENCES.

13

Most of us like to be around people just like ourselves. We look

for people who “fit in”—people who are “our kind of folks.” When

we form teams, we think it will be smoother and therefore better

if everyone on the team is the same kind of person. We tend not

to want people who make waves, approach problems from a

different angle, or think outside of the box.

Good teams have some diversity—diversity in technical skills,

yes, but most importantly diversity in ways of thinking, values,

priorities, and approaches—in a word, style. Style is the way you go

about solving a problem, making a decision, communicating an

idea, or resolving a conflict. Role is what you do, style is how you

do it.

Diversity prevents teams from lapsing into groupthink.

What is groupthink? Groupthink can be defined as a pattern

of thought in which people conform to group values and ethics

through self-deception. This first-person account of an actual

team meeting shows what can happen when the pressure is on

not to rock the boat:

“At one point during the meeting, the president

asked: ‘How’s morale around here?’ The first person

to respond was the vice-president, who was sitting to

the left of the president. He said that on a scale of 1

to 10, he would rate morale an 8. The remainder of

the vice-presidents responded with a 7 or 8. When

my turn came, I wanted to tell the truth and say 3

or 4, but I didn’t have the courage.”

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Different Team Player Styles

14

CONTRIBUTOR: A person who focuses on the immediate
task of the team, believes that information is critical, sets
high performance standards, and can be depended on to
deliver work assignments on time.

COLLABORATOR: A goal-directed member who sees the
overall goal of the team as paramount. They are willing to
pitch in and help others in order to reach the goal and
support the strategy of the organization.

COMMUNICATOR: The team member who helps with team
process by facilitating, building a consensus, and creating
a supportive work environment.

CHALLENGER: The person who questions the goals, methods,
and actions of the team and pushes the team to take
reasonable risks.

Successful teams have a mix of all four styles.∗

∗ For more on team player styles, see Glenn Parker, Team Players and
Teamwork, 2nd ed., Wiley, 2008.

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to 
failure is trying to please everyone.” 

                  – Bill Cosby 

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Ground

Rules

15

Goals set down what the team wants to accomplish, and the

ground rules or norms establish how the team members want to

work together. Some teams call norms the “rules of the road” or

the “behavioral contract” for team members.

Norms or rules evolve over time into shared understandings

about what’s okay and what’s not okay to do. In most cases,

they’re not written down, but everyone understands that this is

how things are done. Norms that simply develop over time are

not always desirable. We have all been involved in groups where

it’s just understood that the meetings start late—people even

joke about it.

Effective teams develop a set of positive ground rules that all

members can support. This is worth emulating because members

are more likely to adhere to rules that they have had a hand in

creating.

Norms help a team in two ways:

1. Norms eliminate confusion by making clear to members
what is expected of them and what they can expect from

their teammates.

2. Norms serve as a basis for feedback when an individual’s
behavior becomes a problem. (“Carla, your interruptions

make it difficult for other members to express their

opinions or provide the information we need.”)

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ESTABLISH GROUND RULES.

16

Here are some examples of norms presented in the form of a

team member agreement.

As a member of this team:

I will not interrupt a teammate when he or she is
expressing an idea, suggestion, or opinion.

I will show up on time for all meetings.
I will stay focused and help the team stay focused on the

topic and time.

I will be brief and to the point.
I will respond promptly to all requests within 24 hours of

receipt.

I will be accountable, and will honor all my commitments.
I will support a team decision, even if I initially did not

agree with it.

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” 

                – Katherine Hepburn 

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What’s Your

TCQ?

17

One signal that your team is effective is that you enjoy being

around the people. You actually want to come to team meetings.

You look forward to all associations and contacts with other

team members. Do you know what that feeling is like? Is it true

for your current team?

You know the feeling because you have had the opposite feel-

ing so many times. When you are part of a poorly functioning

team, your reaction to receiving the meeting notice is usually

something like “ugh.” You dread the team get-togethers and find

yourself looking for excuses to avoid meetings and other con-

tacts with team members.

A team with a positive climate bypasses formalities such as

rigid voting rules and raising hands before speaking. Humor

seems to be an integral part of successful teams. Members talk

about team meetings as “enjoyable” and “fun” and even “a lot of

laughs.” When the environment is relaxed and informal, team

members feel free to engage in good-natured kidding, social ban-

ter about events unrelated to work, and anecdotes regarding

recent company events.

Why is an informal climate so important? Research tells us

that people do their best thinking, most-creative idea-generation,

best decision making, and most effective problem solving when

they are relaxed.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember 
anything.” 
                    – Mark Twain 

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CREATE A RELAXED CLIMATE.

18

What is your Team Culture Quotient (TCQ)?

Please review the list of automobiles below. Then select one car

that best describes the culture of your team today. Please be

prepared to explain your answer and, if possible, to provide

examples.

1. Mercedes Benz—a well engineered (and well
oiled) machine

2. Cadillac—a conservative, safe machine

3. Mustang—a lively, fun machine

4. Range Rover—a tough, resilient, all-road
machine

5. Porche 911—a fast-paced, exciting machine

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Project Planning Guide

19

All teams, but especially project teams, should have a plan for

how the work will be completed. This work plan is where you

commit yourself to a series of steps or activities that will ensure

that the team’s performance objectives get translated into

ACTION. The work plan is where the rubber meets the road.

The work plan also spells out what each team member is

supposed to do and when each step is supposed to get done.

That’s important, because as Duke Ellington once said, “Without

a deadline, baby, I wouldn’t do nothing.”

A good work plan includes these elements:

A clear statement of the goal.

A set of specific objectives.

A series of steps for reaching the objective.

A deadline for each step.

The proper sequencing of the steps.

Names of team members responsible for each step.

The costs involved in the project.

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PREPARE A WORK PLAN.

20

Goal:

Objective:

Action

steps:

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