This page covers initial decisions the group needs to make to prepare for creating a self-directed team. First, decide as a team how often you want to meet to do this work. The steps have been broken down with the idea that the team will spend at least an hour each week on this, so you may want to schedule another hour (at least) for regular team activities. If that sounds like a lot, just remember this is an investment, just like putting money into savings: You are slowing down so you will go faster over the long run. Those using a method like Scrum, who are just changing how the team is managed, can put a user story into your regular work flow each sprint to set aside capacity for this work.
To build team cohesion, team meetings should be considered mandatory—that is, members should agree to schedule other events around them if at all possible.
When do you want to meet each week? A set time is necessary. If you do not have anything to discuss, or half the team is missing that day, you do not have to meet. But when that happens, you have this nice protected hole in your schedule to catch up on other things! If you can avoid it, do not meet Mondays, especially mornings, or Fridays, especially afternoons, for obvious reasons.
⇒ Steps: Set Meeting Schedule
You are going to start putting together two documents the research on teamwork says will be very important to team success. One is the “Team Charter,” which covers how you will interact as team members and with people outside the team. For an example from a real team (not an “ideal” version), see our Sample Team Charter. The other is a “Continuous Improvement Plan” (CIP), which specifies what changes you want to accomplish in your team and how you will accomplish them. Because these documents are related, you will move back and forth between them over time.
Start by agreeing on what the team’s manager(s) expect from the team under this new way of doing things (per decisions they made while completing the Administrative Tasks Checklist).
⇒ Steps: Hold Manager Discussion
Note: On the steps page for this chapter, there is a set at this point in which you will also ask the team to adopt or revise the “Meeting Rules” from the Meeting Facilitation page.
All team documents should be stored in one location everyone on the team and stakeholders can easily use. There are plenty of Web-based tools for this, but if everyone on the team does not have easy access to the Internet during the workday, a file drawer may be better. Along with the charter and CIP, this is also where meeting notes and any other documents a member might want to look up should be stored.
If everything is online, you will also want sections of the repository that only members can see. That way the team can keep working drafts of documents without worrying about the manager or other outsiders reacting to something that is incomplete, or only an idea.
⇒ Steps: Create Document Repository