Because of these complex team dynamics, misalignments and power struggles can appear immediately. Lack of leadership vision, blurred governance, unanticipated scope changes, resource pressures, unmet deadlines and financial overruns can all contribute to a potentially toxic project and team environment. In one case, we found ourselves working with a change team that was riddled with competing sub-factions. There was no true accountability, and regular arguments focused on who was responsible for delivering key aspects of the program work.
The same ingredients that cause challenges, however, can also become the transformation’s greatest strength. With a clear team charter supporting proactive change management, the ERP transformation team’s rich diversity of viewpoints, even in conflict, can be unified into a high-performing transformation chorus.
High-Performing ERP Transformation Teams are Defined by Trust
Extensive research on high-performing teams has demonstrated the primacy of building trust. As neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak summarizes, “Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies.”2
Trust is the foundation that allows teams to access their full range of strengths and creativity. Trust is generated by building an environment that encourages creative thinking, risk-taking, openness and collaboration. Establishing trust means developing an environment of resilience that learns from mistakes and manages the inevitable setbacks and constant pressures. It means connecting on a human level, whether virtually or in person, and moving from purely transactional discussions toward understanding and empathy.
Building a trusting environment means creating a space in which people feel confident and safe, and where they are willing to demonstrate honesty and vulnerability to form lasting cohesion. This is particularly true in a new cross-functional team. Seniority and decision-making authority might not yet be completely clear. Some parties may feel that their task is primarily to protect their own department or business unit’s agenda, rather than represent the broader goals of the business or the project. Trust is not likely to emerge on its own; it needs the right catalyst, a proactive approach and ongoing focus.
Building a Team Charter: How to Set Teams Up for High Performance
While an ERP change team has the shared goal of a successful ERP transformation, the team members may not be aligned on things like process, decision-making protocols, responsibilities and collaboration practices. At first, they may not even realize that they are not aligned.
A team charter (Figure 1) is designed to align the team around a unified purpose, define the supporting factors that will achieve that purpose, and create mechanisms to continually hold the team accountable not only for what it does, but also how it does it.