One of the roles that a process engineer fulfills is that of a team leader. The team looks to the process engineer as the provider for both focus and direction. While that may sound daunting at first, it can actually be accomplished with a little planning and effort on the part of the process engineer. Let's look at some tips for creating a positive and productive team environment.
#1: Create a Team Charter
The best teams have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. A team member needs to know exactly what is expected of them to move forward with determination. A team charter can provide this understanding.
A well-developed team charter should provide several key pieces of information. One of the most important items to include in a team charter is a definition of each role in the team. The role needs to be clearly explained without disrupting the chart in excessive detail.
The best team charters provide a sense of direction for the members. The goal of a good team charter is to have teammates going in the same direction. Without such guidance, it is easy to find that team members are actually pulling in different directions, impeding the performance of the team.
The team charter should clearly define a projected outcome for the team's actions. This provides the direction of the effort and gives everyone something to clearly focus on as their immediate goal. The charter should serve as the set of the sail for the team's voyage.
The process engineer should take full ownership of the team charter, and use it to also convey their expectations of the team. While such expectations should not be over-reaching, it is expected that team members understand that you have goals for the performance and accomplishments of everyone. These expectations should be clearly defined on the team charter.
#2: Help Your Team Overcome Frustrations
Even in the best work environment, there will be occasional frustrations. The critical thing to remember is that these frustrations can be a temporary issue, and they can be overcome by identifying the problem and working towards a solution.
Are the processes and procedures currently in place working as well as they should? Can the current process be refined to minimize or eliminate the cause of the frustration? Is there a specific reason as to why a process doesn't work well with a particular individual? Sometimes a role change is all that it takes to eliminate frustration in a well-balanced team.
#3: Strive to Have a Well-Balanced and Informed Team
One of the best ways to keep a team positive is to make sure that they understand how each member fits into the organizational goals. Each member needs to understand their impact on the team's performance, and how their part affects everyone else.
But to truly understand the impact they have on other team members, each member needs to understand the roles of the other teammates. One of the best ways to encourage this understanding is by cross training as much as possible. A deeper understanding of another's responsibilities can be achieved when the other person has to take on that role.
In a highly technical environment such as we have at Metcal, it is not always possible to cross train for the different roles. But the next best thing is to practice transparency in the various jobs at hand. Each task that is impacted by a team member's actions needs to be explained to that team member.
When a team member sees their work as a cog in a well-oiled machine, it is easy to explain why their work needs to be at an optimal level every day. If done correctly, the team member will come to place a high value on their contribution to the process at hand. A needed and appreciated team member is usually a happy and productive team member.
#4: Empower Team Members
As a process engineer, one of the responsibilities you have is to help your teammates to accomplish their work in a manner that is satisfactory to both parties. While a hands-on approach is always one way to handle this type of situation, sometimes the most effective method is to just do nothing.
That is, often giving the team member the power to choose their own methods and schedules for accomplishing their required goals leads to efficiency and job satisfaction. Allowing this to happen requires a lot of trust on the part of the process engineer that the team member is going to succeed.
This doesn't mean that you turn a blind eye to the processes going on around you. Instead, you will have to be more attentive than usual to make sure that everything stays on track. Empowering team members to devise their own solutions can make a very positive impact on the team morale, but you still need to make sure that everything is on track to meet the organizational goals.
Empowering team members to take an active role in solving their problems can be a powerful tool in new thought leadership. New approaches to existing problems can often be the driving force behind successful new products
#5: Create Mission and Vision Statements
One of the best ways to make sure that organizational goals are met is to have them clearly defined for everyone to see. As a thought leader, a process engineer can help make these goals apparent by establishing some clear and applicable mission and vision statements for their team.
These statements need to encompass the message of the organization and be worded in a way that makes it applicable to your team. Each team member needs to understand their place in the organization and how contributions are so significant in achieving success.
A mission and a vision statement should serve as an inspiration for the success of your team. You will want to identify and target the deeper purpose of the team roles, giving the members a personal goal worth striving towards as they perform their duties.
The process engineer serves as the thought leader for their team. But this doesn't mean that they are on their own. By creating a positive team environment, the process engineer will find that they are supported by the team itself, which allows for further team growth. There is nothing that can stop a well-constructed team.