Often I’m asked to coach a team to become ‘high-performing’. The people in these teams are already highly skilled in what they do and typically produce great results. But they sometimes find themselves in a team where there’s low respect for the leader or they’re the leader struggling to get more out of their team.
Recently I’ve been working with a team of 10 senior execs. They’re very committed and on the surface get on well together. But over the past year, they’ve been going through significant change in their organisation, and the internal culture has become one of blame, conflict and lack of teamwork. Results are falling.
There’s not enough space here to go into the reasons why teams fall apart, but it’s linked with the contradiction of wanting to be independent rather than having the team be interdependent.
The foundations of high-performing teams have effective leadership with a clear vision, set direction and concise strategy. This is the number one ingredient.
It is also important that everyone is clear about their role, objectives, and how the results will be measured. Everyone accepts accountability.
Consistent and appropriate communication is key. People always want more - and I don’t mean by email. And once the channels are open, it’s important to communicate simple and clear organisational or team values. It’s not enough to stick motivational ‘teamwork’ posters on the wall! Values must be defined and translated into behaviours. Everyone must walk the talk.
Let’s look at the example my senior execs worked on - the value of respect. I had them each write down what this means and how their behaviour reflected this. What happens to their behaviour when something goes wrong - when a deadline is missed, say, or there’s a serious customer complaint? Do they rub their hands with glee and gossip that James messed up? Or demonstrate respect by understanding that anyone can make a mistake and jump in to help for the greater good of the team? Do you publicly criticise in front of others or treat the individual with respect and have a private one-to-one?
There are reams of reference books and a million-plus Google hits of how to create a high-performing team. Intellectually we all know what’s needed. It’s common sense after all, right? Yet why isn’t it applied? This is the real issue…