Team Role FAQs: Tandem Synchronisation
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I’m confused by the idea of synchronizing ‘in tandem’. It seems as if you are suggesting that a team should synchronise, yet not synchronise, at the same time.
Tandem Synchronisation is a more advanced technique, and only to be used when a team have grooved their use of the basic synchronisation.
When using roles in tandem, some team members are asked to play a dual role. The MTR-i decision-making process is followed in the normal way, and the team members synchronise their use of team roles (eg: in brainstorming, everyone wears the Innovator hat).
The tandem technique is where team members are asked to overlay that synchronisation with a particular perspective. For example, during the brainstorm, one person may be asked to take the Coach perspective and another the Conductor perspective. As a result, the tandem Coach may suggest ideas relating to people - who to involve, ideas that will win commitment, etc.; the tandem Conductor may suggested improvements to systems and processes.
Team facilitators often perform tandem synchronisation, though they may not describe it as such. Whilst the team synchronises their use of team roles, concentrating on the content of discussions, the facilitator may concentrate on the process being followed, using the Conductor. Also, the facilitor may try to ensure that agreement is reached at every stage - ie: the Coach is being used throughout to build agreement, resolve conflicts and ensure everyone ‘buys in’ to each part of the process.
The reason a team may want to use the tandem technique is if it wants to give greater priority to a particular team role that may have been neglected. For example, suppose a team realise that they are making very little use of the Coach team role, and they could make better decisions by including it. It is not practical or even beneficial to recruit someone to play the Coach role in the team. But they could use the tandem technique to make sure that it is given higher priority throughout their discussions. That is, one or more team members could be charged with:
- taking a purely Coach perspective
- ensuring that the discussion takes sufficient account of that perspective
- doing so in a way that allows time for other perspectives to be raised and always seeks a win-win solution.
What this means in practice is that when the rest of the team are synchronising their use of Curator, in clarifying goals and gathering information, those designated to consider the Coach perspective might ask questions such as:
- how would staff feel about this goal?
- would staff feel excluded if we haven’t gathered information from them?
- can we get staff ‘on board’ by involving them in the goal setting?
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