How effective teams implement core values

I had the opportunity to take part in a session of teamwork training this week, which is always a joy. The trainer led us through a model used by effective teams to implement core values into their daily practices. The model is called B.A.S.K., which is short for Behavior, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge.

The first step in the BASK model is for team members to identify core values or principles, which allows for common expectations and shared understandings among team members. The second step is to link the core values to specific behaviors, attitudes, skills and knowledge needed to make the value part of the team culture.

It is not enough to simply name a core value, because each team member may have a different idea about what the value means.

Consider a team with a core value of timeliness. One team member may think of timeliness as completing their individual tasks on time. Another team member may focus on delivering final products to clients within a specified time-frame. These different conceptualizations of timeliness would result in different expectations among team members.

Even a common definition of a value is not enough, because definitions do not guide the team’s daily activities and interactions.

For example, let’s assume the team discussed above shares a common understanding of timeliness to mean delivery of final products to clients within a specified time-frame. Still, some team members might focus on accomplishing a steady stream of results throughout the project period, while others may rely on “crunch time” productivity just before the final deadline.

To arrive at a truly shared value, teams can use the BASK model to agree upon expected actions. For the timeliness example, a team might articulate the following:
Behaviors – The actions needed by team members to support the value.

  • Example: Team members will make steady progress to meet timeliness benchmarks throughout the project period. Team members will immediately identify delays or slipped deadlines so that solutions can be derived to catch-up delinquent tasks.

Attitudes – How team members think and talk about the value.

  • Example: During meetings, team members will report about the timeliness of all project tasks, in addition to quality and other factors. Team members will always calculate and consider the affect of new decisions on the timeliness of the project; members will look for ways to assist/support others who are having trouble.

Skills – What tools and abilities team members need to support the value.

  • Example: Through training and experience, teams will become proficient at scheduling and estimating the time it takes to complete project tasks. Unless there is an overwhelming need for particular development, team members will engage in tasks for which their skill set is most suited.

Knowledge – What teams need to know, understand, or learn to support the value.

  • Example: Team members will identify all tasks that must be accomplished to complete the project on time. Team members will obtain information about needed resources, tools and procedures needed to complete all aspects of project.

When teams associate a particular value with a set of behaviors, attitudes, and skills, and when team members obtain the knowledge needed to carry out those behaviors, attitudes, and skills, the underlying value can take on real meaning to drive team performance. The BASK process allows team members to gain an understanding of their individual and shared perceptions about their core values, and to iron out differences in advance of the pressures of project activities and deadlines.

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13 Responses to How effective teams implement core values

  1. Rosa Say says:

    Sounds like a very adaptable model Blaine, thanks for sharing this. Can you tell us a bit more about how the trainer delivered this for your team-building? Facilitated break-out groups or in another way?

  2. I can gladly write more about the training. As you suspected, the trainer used facilitated break-out groups.

    Earlier in the day, participants had generated a list of values. For the BASK training, the trainer explained the general concept, then divided the full team into groups of 4-5 people. Each group was assigned one of the previously listed values and asked to identify the behaviors, values attitudes, skills and knowledge that would be needed to support the value.

    The full team reunited and reported out results from each group. The trainer facilitated discussion around the BASK for each value. Finally, the trainer encouraged the team to use the exercise as a model for how to proceed through all the team’s core values, and to do so within the next 4-6 weeks to take advantage of the momentum.

  3. Blaine – you say this is a classic model. This is the first I’ve ever heard of BASK. Is there a book or something else to it? It sounds simple, yet very effective. Thanks for introducing me to it!

  4. Good question Phil. I came away with the impression that it was “classic” because a) I believe I heard the model used once before, and b) it seemed to be such common sense. However, going back over the materials, I do not see a specific citation, so maybe it has been developed but not published.

    Search, as you have likely seen, reveals a BASK model of disassociation (not the same) and quite a bit regarding health issues, such as considering BASK in treating those with diabetes.

    Maybe I should revise it to read “soon to be classic”! What do you think?

  5. Soon to be classic sounds right. I’d definitely be interested in you fleshing this out more Blaine. Seems as though you know a lot about it, and if there’s no expert yet, why not you?

  6. Heather says:

    I just posted on my blog about core values. So I decided to take a look and see what others have written. I really liked the clarity of the model you put forth, Blaine. I liked the part about discussing and gaining clarity around what a stated value means to each individual.

    Blaine, I was wondering what your experiences have been with people in a team being at odds with what they say their core values are vs. unconscious drivers such as a perceived sense of lack or an expectation that they will not be heard. What needs to happen when the process outlined above gets derailed or gummed up by such a conflict?

    Thanks,
    Heather

  7. [...] I wanted to point out some good ideas put forth by Blaine Collins in his Stronger Teams blog. He takes this concept of core values and presents a model for applying it to organizational teams. I particularly like the idea of having the members of the team not merely name their core values, but discuss their meaning of each core value and what that value looks like in terms of behavior. [...]

  8. Heather, thanks for the comment and the trackback!

    The problems you raise are all too common. When people begin acting differently from their stated values, I perceive that a couple of issues are likely at work. Assuming folks are not being disingenuous, it is often the case that people just get caught up in the activities at hand and loose sight of their motivations. If that is the case, then some gentle (or pointed) reminders about purpose and values will help to reorient team members.

    The other common situation I see is that the values are not really shared by all the key players, so everyone is working from a different script. This requires a re-examination of the values and purpose of the team or group – if it matters that the unit stays together and works well. Different people will come to the table with different values, but for them to function as a team, members will need to adopt shared values for the group. Having buy-in on core values from everyone is pretty essential because those who descent can undermine the teamwork (and they usually have good cause for their reservations). The more clearly and frequently the common values can be communicated, the better subsequent activities are apt to go. At least, that’s my take.

  9. [...] wanted to point out some good ideas put forth by Blaine Collins in his Stronger Teams blog. He takes this concept of core values and presents a model for applying it to organizational [...]

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