Triumphant Temporary Teams

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When talking about team-building, a lot of attention is given to long-term intact teams. These may be organizational teams, sales teams, long term project or service teams–regardless of mission, they are designed to stay together for a long time.

There is also power in the temporary team–convened to address only one specific problem or project. Once the team achieves a specific outcome, it is disbanded.  These teams are often called project teams or Tiger Teams.  Project teams are convened to develop a specific concrete product or service in a specified time.  Tiger Teams are generally assigned to focus on and triage a very specific problem.

Here are some examples.

  • A temporary team representing teams from across the organization is organized to update the organization’s award policy.
  • A specific flaw is found with a product, and a Tiger Team of experts from different departments is created to identify the root cause and fixes.
  • A short-term project team is created to develop a very specific process or business approaches to address a market disruption.

Managing these types of teams requires a different focus than intact teams. Here are some tips for building tremendous temporary teams:

  • Provide a concise clear target outcome and timeframe. Too many teams last longer than they need to, because no one defined clearly upfront what success looks like. Make it clear that the team is temporary, and that success will be demonstrated by the fact that the team is no longer needed.
  • Embrace task achievement as the priority. While trust and respect are always needed for peak team performance, the long term relationship management that is generally needed for intact teams is not as essential here. Build in time for the team to get to know each other in a facilitated structured way. Then, let them determine how close they need to feel to get the job done.
  • Provide infrastructure. When bringing together a team from different parts of the organization, it is important to provide tools that reduce the team’s start-up and overhead. This includes a dedicated video meeting room, for example, or templates or examples of deliverables. This helps reduce the learning curve.
  • Celebrate success. When the teams work is done, make sure you pause to thank and reward them however you can. This helps provide emotional closure, as well as mark the team’s success and impact.

When selected and managed well, temporary teams can have a huge impact in moving an organization forward. They need a goal, timeline, infrastructure and direction. Once these are established, let them shine. And, feel good about letting the sun set when their good work is done.

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