TEAM STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE
I. Standards for Teams
Carl E. Larson
and Frank M. J. Lafasto first explain in
Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong that standards create
the "pressure to perform". This is because qualitative individual
excellence leads to team success. Individual efforts also lead to team
success. Exerted pressure to perform creates a "tailwind" behind individual
Where does the pressure to perform come from?
Larson and LaFasto give five "ways and sources" of standards of excellence: 1)
individual standards; 2) team pressure; 3) consequences of success or
failure; 4) external pressure from organization or society or other unit
outside of the team; and 5) pressure from team leader.
Standards of excellence do make a difference. They
are, however, hard work. This is because standards must be set and met.
Expectations of standards include a concrete understanding of performance
requirements, and discipline. Discipline is required because standards
require effort and hard work, and because standards are easy to ignore.
Larson and LaFasto give a series of steps to
implementing standards of excellence. First, they recommend establishing a
set of standards. These should be clearly and concretely articulated.
Standards of this type create individual commitment, motivation,
self-esteem, and higher performance. Second, individual team members should
require one another to perform according to the established standards of
excellence. Third, the team should make changes constantly to improve
II. Team Rules and Norms
Many manuals for team development give tips for
creating team rules. Scholtes in
The Team Handbook writes that the team ideally should have open
discussions regarding ground rules, where they openly state or acknowledge
Norms are the rules of behavior that team members have
agreed to follow (Hoevenmeyer 71). Francis and Young define "team norm" as
"a convention, habit, or standard" (Improving Work Groups: A Practical Manual for Team Building
96). It is important to work as a
team," write Francis and Young," to define standards (norms) so that
performance levels are set above the acceptable level, thus ensuring that
the team constantly will strive to achieve excellence" (Improving Work Groups: A Practical Manual for Team Building
In 1964, Chris Argyris gave examples of norms for
1. To be candid about ideas
2. To be open
3. To experiment
4. To help others to be
5. To help others to
10. Internal commitment
The Team Handbook gives eleven "Team Rules" (4): 1) attendance;
2) promptness; 3) meeting place and time, and how to notify other members
of this information; 4) monthly meeting with guidance team; 5)
participation by everyone; 6) basic conversational courtesies; 7)
Assignments - completed and on time; 8) breaks; 9) interruptions; 10)
rotation of routine chores; 11) agendas, minutes, and records
Many authors about team building suggest writing a
"Team Constitution" or "Team Rulebook". Maginn's "Team Constitution"
consists of four parts (26): 1) decide on operational procedures;
2) define team rules and policies ; 3) visualize team
success - What will it take to reach success?; 4) create new rules, review
rules, enforce rules. Joy and Joy write that the team should write a
"playbook" with these componenets: 1) team rules - what and when; 2) team
leader responsibilities; and 3) a short and simple format (155). Joy and
Joy point out that unwritten rules are unenforceable (209), and that the
team should set standards and post results (155). Standards, write Joy and
Joy, are clear and visible, and are not open for further debate. Sanborn,
Teambuilt: Making Teamwork Work, says that their are three benefits of creating a team
manual: 1) it reinforces and clarifies verbal commitments, 2) use in
recruiting members, 3) to bring new team members up to speed (Sanborn
Teambuilt: Making Teamwork Work)
III. Key Business Indicators
In an article titled "Winning
Teams Know Their Score," Sullivan and Lynch give Key Business
Indicators, KBI, which they call an "instrument panel of team
performance"(20). Steps to determine these standards are:
1. Review mission, vision
2. Identify team mission
3. Identify team's internal
and external customers
4. Identify key success
factors; "Our success depends on ______."
5. Brainstorm for KBIs.
6. Pick 5 to 7 KBIs.
7. Agree on way to measure
8. Establish a tracking
system for KBIs.
Maddux calls a standard
an "ongoing performance criteria that must be met time and time again"
(36). It is usually expressed quantitatively (e.g. attendance, production
rates) (36). Similar to standard is the word norm.