6 phrases you don’t hear in self-steering teams

The Belgian Yellow Tigers reached the quarterfinals in the 2015 European Volleybal championships. This reminds me of a lecture on team performance by their coach (and academic researcher) Gert Vande Broek. He stated autonomy as an important motivator, talked about autonomous teams and illustrated this with a picture of a time-out managed by the team (notice the coach just outside the circle).

yellow tigers timeout 4

This started an animated discussion whether teams are ready or not to be self-steering. “You need to earn autonomy, work together in order to achieve autonomy,” Vande Broek added an important nuance (you’ll find more pics with the coach leading the time-out).

When is a team self-steering? How can you recognize it in interactions between team members? 

Here are 6 phrases you won’t hear in a self-steering team:

1. “I wasn’t aware I needed to do that.” – because in self-steering teams there are clear roles and TO DO’s, often supported by visual mgt, regular exchanges. There is a sense of initiative so that tasks get done (even the ‘boring’ ones).

2. “I didn’t know that / receive that information.” There is a continuous sharing of knowledge and info (push), a reflex “this can be interesting for you / your job” and a ‘dare to ask’ mentality (pull).

3. “… all this time, we were doing it wrong / working on the wrong things.” Self-steering teams work goal oriented and focused but there is time for time-outs, open feedback form the very beginning of an assignment.

4. “I can’t take it anymore.” These teams work hard and take pride in doing so. However, there are fun moments to take the pressure off, mostly after a peak moment and before someone becomes too stressed or ill. 

5. “I had to do all of this on my own.” Members of self-steering team ‘detect’ colleagues in need, even without using words.

6. “Don’t go there, that’s too delicate.” There are no professional ‘non-dis’ and team members know how to talk about issues in a constructive way.

What does YOUR self-steering teams radar tell you? I’m curious!