Growing Team Performance in Membership, Control to Reach Goal, MCG

Teamwork on ship, Bangladesh, Flickr - joiseyshowaa
Teamwork on ship, Bangladesh, Flickr – joiseyshowaa

As teams change, status and role questions arise.  Roles shift, people leave for various reasons, e.g. the group churns. 

This post is about how groups and teams FORM and SHIFT, today focusing on MEMBERSHIP the first of a three part series on groups & teams.

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in their leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”

We’re actually quite experienced with repeated group change.  It doesn’t mean we enjoy the process.  We may experience hundreds of team & group formations and dissolutions over our lifespans. 

Some familiar examples of this include teams of two (marriage/partners) and organization hierarchy groups .  Also consider social media groups (twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest) with their continually evolving rules of engagement.

All told, status and role changes, perceived or real, can be much ado & angst-producing about nothing.  It has been a regular part of my consulting employment to deal with persistent, debilitating issues that show up in surveys and reports, or sometimes surface in meetings or in difficult leader-staff interactions.  Dealing with status-membership issues (and shifting, improving norms) with grace, interest, and some helpful skills is a  positive path. It may not be an easy path.

High performance teams are aided by diversity and the ability to take multiple perspectives.  Two resources that can help you review team roles are:

If you are a leader or facilitator, consider helping your team members with the questions below in Step One:  Membership.

MCG Model (See Tools page for full size)
MCG Model (See Tools page for full size)

The elegantly simple MCG frame begins with the first element of understanding group evolution and change:  Membership, then Control, and Goal.  Key questions for MEMBERSHIP (round 2, 3, 4…) are:

  • Do I belong here? (Recent research suggests job insecurity is worse for your health than unemployment.  Angst – yes!)
  • On what terms may I belong? (Have the rules changed?  What’s expected of me?  What are my goals?)
  • Do I want to belong? (Related to 1st question and next question – if it isn’t just about salary and benefits.)
  • Who do I have to be to belong? (Do I still fit what the organization is, and is becoming?)
  • What is expected of me? (See terms question above…)
  • Who else is here? (Another “fit” type of question)
  • What can I contribute? (A wonderful beginning and ending question.  Help your team member connect, clarify and commit to using their strengths effectively.)

If your team as a WHOLE is struggling to adapt to change, the Center for Creative Leadership suggests, via Dennis Lindoerfer, the following four areas of focus to foster learning and adaptability as they work:

1. Establish a climate for learning. When teams create norms and practices around learning, they make learning a habit. This helps teams to achieve consistently high performance levels and allows for rapid learning and fast action when necessary.

Here are two of my own examples from academic organizations:

Dean level leaders convene to discuss a book each month to discuss how to apply leadership principles to their academic areas. (All are expected to have read it to participate in discussion.)

The director of a science unit convenes an informal coffee gathering twice a week, early in the day, just to discuss news and what’s happening. The expectation is set that this is a time to network productively with your colleagues about what is going on the unit to support each other’s work.

2. Continually assess how you work together. Take some time during meetings to look at how you are working together, to identify what [is working] and what is not …to increase your effectiveness. DN:  Just asking such question changes things.

3. Work with a team coach. Choose a coach who has expertise in team dynamics and process facilitation. He or she can work directly with the team to help the members become more aware of the effective and ineffective aspects of their functioning. The coach can provide the team with information about alternative approaches, encouragement and feedback about the impact of these efforts.  (Yes, this is verbatim by CLL and Dennis Lindoerfer, not me.)

4. Manage knowledge effectively. A team needs to create a systematic way of handling its ongoing learning. Teams may take widely differing approaches to doing this, but it is essential that they use some disciplined approach for capturing and disseminating lessons learned and best practices.

The full CCL blog article about the four areas and needed behaviors for each is here.

Deb testing out Tannery Falls, one of many in Munising, Michigan, U.P.
Deb sampling Tannery Falls, one of many in Munising, Michigan, U.P. –  Sept ’09

My next post in this series is about team CONTROL Issues in Team available here.

Below is a quote about relevant to team formation to deal with the nature ebb and flow of teams and groups:

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. 

But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. 

There is more security in the adventurous and exciting,

for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

~ Alan Cohen

Thanks for stopping by. Your comments & sharing of this post enrich the learning.

(Note, this blog post was updated slightly in 2013 with references and enlarged type. The title was updated from Team Shift & GroupChange: Membership Round 2, 3, 4… to its current title.)

Published by dnrevel

Change & transition, Leadership team & organization development. Executive Leadership team coach. My LinkedIn profile:

2 thoughts on “Growing Team Performance in Membership, Control to Reach Goal, MCG

  1. Thank you for the interesting article. I have used the MCG model with great success for many years. It works well in conjunction with MBTI debriefing as well – especially Step II reports. Ann


  2. Ann Clancy was a participant in a Social Media Learning Lab session awhile back. We are both connected in the consulting / organization development field.

    Thanks Ann for your comment back then and today, as I review this classic post and add a MCG diagram to it.

    Best wishes all who work with groups and teams.

    ~ Deb


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