Extraordinary Team Blog

Flow Chart Can Help a Team Develop Efficient Teamwork

Posted by Kristin Arnold on October 22, 2010

Q.  Our boss calls us a team, but we do our own thing, our own way.  And now that the company is growing, the new employees don’t have a clue.  I’m beginning to feel clueless myself.

A.  Sounds like your team is going through “growing pains” from the entrepreneurial “free to be me” philosophy to a more structured approach to work.  One way to build a sense of teamwork as well as a common understanding of the work process is to “flow chart” a basic, core process that everyone is involved in.  For example, a team might select a process such as “collects revenue.”  As a team, they would:

Start and Stop.  Identify the starting point and ending point to the process, such as “Service is installed to customer” to “Monies received from customer.”

As It Is.  Brainstorm all the activities involved in the process as it exists today.  Ask each team member to write each item legibly on a separate 3” by 5” stickie note.  For example, one team member might write down “invoice customer.”  Another team member might write down “send the dogs out for nonpayment.”  Make sure your team focuses on the current process, not as you want or think it should be.

Order It.  Arrange the stickie-note activities in proper sequence, from start to end, usually from top to bottom.  Some activities may occur at the same time, simply put the stickies side by side.  Connect the stickies using arrows and add decision points using a 3” by 3” stickie note turned sideways like a diamond.  (most decisions have a “yes” or “no” arrow that takes the process down two different paths).

A-Ha!  Usually, the best thing about flow charting a process is in the discussions around the activities.  “I didn’t know you could do that…”, “Why do you do it that way?”  “What do you mean by that?”  “Wow, if I do that earlier in the process, I’ll save time and avoid having to do it again!”  Before you know it, the team has probably identified several improvements to the process, noted what areas they would like standardized and which areas they need to have the flexibility to react.

As It Could Be.  Even though your team has just enjoyed a wonderful, joyous moment, take a moment to document the process as your team would like it to be.  This is your first step toward standardizing your work processes.

What Gets Measured Gets Done.  Does your team think this process is important enough to measure?  If so, how do they want to measure it easily, quickly and accurately?  For example, our team may decide to measure and track “total revenues collected” on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.  If it is a truly important measure, post a scoreboard to track the team’s progress.

Question:  Are you building teamwork in spite of the growing pains?

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