Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring team roles, part of Communication Tips Weekly.
- When teams work well their results can be phenomenal, and the experience for team members can be great. I actually enjoy meetings with high-performance teams that get along well. They're fun! But we've all attended meetings that were more like a nightmare. You can help your teams get the most out of their meetings by making sure that all the important roles are getting filled. What are these important roles, and what should you do if you notice one is missing? Let's take a look at the roles.
The encourager is the cheerleader of the team. This is the person that notices when the team is acting kind of cranky or despondent, and says something positive to get the team back on track. The gatekeeper makes sure that everyone is getting a chance to speak. This person takes special precautions to protect any minority opinions that might otherwise get drowned out. The information seeker will ask questions and encourage people to share their ideas and opinions.
The contributor is willing to share opinions and ideas. This person has done enough research or has enough expertise to add valuable content to the team discussion. The challenger or devil's advocate is a much needed role. This is someone willing to slow the group down if a rash decision is being made. Someone willing to counter the prevalent way of thinking or acting. And finally, the organizer. The organizer holds us to our own agenda, tracking time.
The organizer keeps notes from the meeting. At least the major decisions and who will do what by when. The organizer may be the person to make sure a conference room has been booked, and that everyone has the meeting on their calendars. Take this list of roles with you to your next team meeting. Mark initials of your team mates next to each of the roles they engage in each time they step into that role. At the end of a short meeting with two colleagues of mine on a curriculum design team, my list looked something like this.
When TK said "that's good, we need to write that down "so we won't forget," I put her initials next to the encourager and organizer. When BBH, that's me by the way, asked "how will we measure that learning goal?" I put my initials next to information seeker. When MM said "we can craft an essay question "for the midterm to asses the learning goal number three," I put his initials next to contributor. And when TK responded "I don't think we can measure that "in an essay," I wrote her initials next to challenger.
The picture that emerges after you do one of these quick meeting assessments is enlightening. For example, you noticed that my curriculum design teammates shared the challenger, contributor, and information seeker roles fairly well, but we are desperate for a gatekeeper. When you notice a missing role, you can always step up and engage in that behavior yourself. Or you can bring the absence of the role to the attention of the whole team. Others might start helping fill the role as well once they realize it's missing.
So, you have your list of necessary roles, and a quick easy way of assessing your next team meeting. Thank you for taking the time to learn about important team roles. As your team communication improves, your team will thank you too.
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