Team Member Identity: Building the Foundation for a Strong Team

Posted in: Team Tools, Workplace Teams
Establishing team member identity sets the stage for team trust, synergy, and collaboration.

Developing team member identity is helpful when the team is just starting out and also as the team:

Brings on new team members
Goes through a reorganization
Begins a new project
Changes individual responsibilities
Sets new priorities
Needs to renew commitment to team goals
Why Team Member Identity is so Important
When team members do not have the opportunity to openly discuss their own commitment, contributions, and concerns, the team runs the risk of suffering from hidden agendas, wavering commitment, faulty assumptions, and unclear expectations. Team member identity also contributes to team trust, role clarification, and explicit expectations. Therefore, it is vital to a team’s success that the members take the time to discuss and clarify each member’s commitment, contributions, and concerns.

Four Steps to Establishing Team Member Identity

  1. Hold a team discussion on team member identity
    Invite and allow each team member to take a turn in expressing the following:

COMMITMENT – Why is membership on this team important to you? Why is the overall purpose important to you? What do you hope to gain from your involvement?
CONTRIBUTION – How do you see yourself contributing the most to the team’s success? What talents, skills, and expertise do you bring to the team? What do you see as your role on this team?
CONCERNs – What questions, concerns, or needs for clarification do you have?
How are we doing? What is currently working well? What can we do to strengthen team capability?

  1. Clarify as a team
    Hold a team discussion to help team members think about and articulate their COMMITMENT to the team, their CONTRIBUTION to the team, and their COMFORT LEVEL regarding their membership on the team. You may want to consider having individual team member’s create mandala’s or poster’s as a creative way to clarify their identity on the team.
  2. Summarize and apply.
    Have the team leader summarize the key points that have been made. Discuss as a team how to apply the key points and what the next steps should be. Develop a simple action plan or list of operating guidelines as is appropriate.
  3. Follow-up
    Set a follow-up date for regrouping and revisiting what has been discussed. Team members should be encouraged to look for ways to support and reinforce what has been said after the meeting is over.

Tips to Help Establish Team Member Identity
Consider having a skilled facilitator guide this process and the team discussion.
Make sure that all team members clearly understand the steps and expectations associated with this process before they begin.
Make sure that the meeting environment is FOCUSED, SAFE, and CONDUCIVE to a productive team discussion.
Make sure that all team members have the opportunity to be heard and understood.
Make sure that the team avoids evaluating or debating the points made by individual team members.
Post key points and ideas on the board.
Success Check
Do team members have a clear commitment to the team’s purpose and its success?
Do team members know how they can best contribute to the team’s success?
Do team members feel comfortable and included on the team?
Do team members know each other? Can they identify with each other?
Do team members feel a certain connection and desire to belong to the team?

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