Building and Leading Resilient Teams: Module 4

Module 4: Increase the team’s ability to solve problems and overcome challenges by facilitating team learning (part 1).

When people work together as a team, they create shared experiences that they can learn from. As a leader, you are expected to facilitate this experiential learning process. Learning is how teams solve problems and overcome challenges. You can lead the learning process by ensuring that your team is constantly reflecting on its past and present experiences to assess performance and find ways to improve. As your team develops new ideas for improvement and change, you will need to approve and prioritize those ideas. Most importantly, it’s your responsibility to make sure these ideas get put into action, tested, and validated. Some ideas will work; some will not. Either way, team learning has occurred.

This module consists of two “at home” assignments (6 hours) that must be completed prior to the facilitated discussion (1-3 hours). Completing the preparatory assignments is essential for engaged participation in the facilitated discussion.

Assignment 1. Learn the following key terms and ideas. Knowing these key terms and ideas is essential to understanding the concepts that support each leader task in this module. (0.5 hours)

Key Terms and Ideas

Assignment 2. Reflect on your unique leader/follower experience with each of the leader tasks and concepts below. Consider ALL the reflection questions, prepare notes, and be ready to discuss during the facilitated discussion. The recommended reading is provided to help you gain a better understanding of the leader tasks and concepts. The reading will also prompt critical reflection on your leader/follower experience. (5.5 hours)

Note to Students and Instructors: The recommended reading for each leader task is updated routinely. Articles added in the last 30 days are marked (new). Instructors may assign additional reading or relevant videos at their discretion.

Leader Tasks and Concepts

1. Analyze team learning capacity.

Team learning is the process of routinely learning from individual and team experience and applying that learning to the accomplishment of team goals. Experiential learning is the cyclical process of experiencing, reflecting, deciding, and acting. Working together, teams learn from experience how to improve, innovate, and solve problems.

The cycle of experiencing, reflecting, deciding, and acting is continuous. Learning from their experience is how resilient teams overcome adversity, and then adapt and grow together because of that adversity.

The Experiential Learning Cycle by David Kolb

The experiencing stage of the experiential learning cycle is where teams directly observe or participate in events as a basis of knowledge. Everything that a team does together creates experience that can be learned from.

The reflecting stage of the experiential learning cycle is where teams carefully and critically consider something. Teams reflect on their experience to find ways to solve problems, overcome challenges, improve performance, and innovate new ideas.

The deciding stage of the experiential learning cycle is where teams use experience and reflection to guide their decision-making. Often, teams will need to make timely decisions without optimal information.

The acting stage of the experiential learning cycle is where teams act in furtherance of a decision. Good teams will have a bias for action. Bias for action is favoring action over inaction, especially in the face of uncertainty.

2. Orient on team goals.

Team goals should be well-defined and understood by the team. Establishing stretch goals promotes more learning and better performance and productivity. Stretch goals are purposefully ambitious and challenge a person or team to step outside of their comfort zone. Orienting on team goals helps the team identify problems and challenges.

Orienting on team goals requires unity of effort. Unity of effort is the deliberate coordination and cooperation of people toward a common objective. Cohesive teams working in a positive climate are more likely to demonstrate unity of effort.

Orienting on team goals also requires that leaders provide their intent. Leader’s intent is provided to explain “why” something needs to be accomplished so that teams can develop their plans for “how” to get the work done.

Establishing incremental goals helps teams develop confidence. Incremental goals are benchmarks set between a starting point and end goal that are used to track progress and provide motivation as accomplished.

As teams successfully accomplish goals together, they develop higher levels of collective efficacy. Collective efficacy is the belief that a group can meet challenges and complete tasks together successfully. Teams that are higher in collective efficacy are better prepared to overcome adversity together.

Recommended Reading:

The Best Way to Set Team Goals

How to Write Effective OKRs – Plus Examples

A Leader’s Role in Setting and Meeting Team Goals

5 Practical Tips How to Set Truly Cooperative Team Goals

Understanding Stretch Goals

Facilitated discussion. Be prepared to discuss your experience with each of the leader tasks and concepts above. The facilitated discussion is the key to successful learning because it ensures you have a thorough understanding of applicable factual (what), conceptual (why), and procedural (how) knowledge relevant to each leader task.

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