Helen Sanderson, of Helen Sanderson Associates, and I have started sharing our collective learning about person centered teams.

Whatever your definition of team, you will not find the term ‘person centered team’ in the business literature.

High Performing Teams are deeply committed to one another’s personal growth and success. Jeanne Plas, author of Person Centered Leadership, describes them as being characterized
by shared decision-making, shared responsibility and differentiated actions.

You may be familiar with the term ‘person-centered’ from the humanistic theories of Carl Rogers, whose early work in person centered approaches was described as a process of freeing a person and removing obstacles so that growth and development can proceed and the person can become more independent and self-directed. Rogers helped people in taking responsibility for themselves and their lives. He believed that the experience of being understood and valued, gives one the freedom to grow.

What person centered teams share with this view is a focus on the whole person, and the opportunity for team members to realize how their attitudes, feelings and behavior can be understood and mobilized in an effort to find their true positive potential. Team members use person centered thinking tools and practices to develop a culture of trust, empowerment, appreciation and accountability, with the aim of achieving optimal team performance.

Person centered teams recognize that, above all else, people are central to any team activity or success. They focus on developing employees as well as getting good results with the people they serve. Person centered teams:
• Have a shared sense of purpose.
• Know what is important to its individual team members, and how to support each other.
• Allocate roles and tasks based on members’ strengths and interests.
• Regularly reflect on and share what they are learning with the aim of continuous improvement.

• Maintain a ‘living record’ of who the team is, their purpose, how people work together, a list of performance goals and corresponding action steps.- a person centered team plan.

Becoming a Person Centered Team

The person centered teams model is based on the team performance model of Drexler and Sibbet that has been adapted though six years of research, using the process in the context of person centered working in human services.

The Person Centered Teams model focuses on five elements, Purpose, People, Performance, Process and Progress, to address questions that are central to becoming a person centered team.
1. Why are we here?
2. Why am I a part of this team?

3. Who are we?
4. How do we support one another?

5. What programs, products and services do we make available to others to fulfill our purpose?
6. What does it look like when this is done well?

7. How will we work together so that we achieve our goals and keep people at the heart of what we do?
8. Who is going to do what in the team?

9. How are we doing?
10. What else can we try?

Any team can become a person centered team. Human Resources teams, Finance Teams, Directors Teams, and Boards, as well as teams who are providing direct support to people can all benefit from this model. Teams can transform their culture and service delivery approach by participating in training and coaching support to learn fundamentals of person centered thinking and a variety of person centered tools and practices. These strategies are then implemented in a planful and purposeful way to engage members in a culture of trust, appreciation and accountability. Our experience with person centered teams has shown that team members who feel heard, valued, and appreciated become better caregivers, providing more person centered services to people supported by the organization. 

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