Recent business awards across Cumbria have highlighted companies doing outstanding things in business. The common theme for all the winners was recognition that their success was down to great team work. As Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Whatever business you are in, if you want to be a winner surround yourself with the right people and build a high performing team.
Key attributes in building the right team
Diversity is a key success factor: Build and develop your team with members who have different strengths, talents and skills. Whilst they will complement each other to deliver objectives, team members will also appreciate and respect each other for the value they bring as individuals to the teams overall and combined performance.
Time and patience: At first during the team “Forming” stage, members will be unsure of each other and will try to establish their identity within the group and their behaviour will naturally be tentative. If you are a team leader, introduce exercises to encourage the team to get to know each other better or if possible hold social or team building events to speed up this process.
Storming: Bruce Tuckman’s work on team dynamics, back in 1965, refers to the next stage of team development as “Storming”, this stage can be critical, a make-or-break phase. Members start stretching their boundaries and start challenging each other, for position, supremacy and personal agendas may emerge. Teams can disintegrate at this stage unless you, as a leader, step in. Therefore ensure there is regular, clear communication and clarity of tasks, be willing to step in and referee and find and instil a shared common goal. Also agree and create a robust feedback process and encourage members to support each other too. If you find this personally challenging as a leader, get support from someone with experience in facilitating team workshops. But ensure it is you that follows up on any key points and therefore do not abdicate any responsibility.
Norming: follows once everyone is clear of their role and responsibility, however the next challenge is that the team may just coast along and results, outputs and performance just plateau. So an exercise you could introduce to ensure everyone is continually challenged to learn, develop and being stretched from time to time is rotating responsibilities for tasks every few weeks or months. This also ensures that the team performance isn’t reliant on one person doing a particular job, helps team members understand where they fit in and the impact they have on the each other. Why do you think some top football managers play certain players out of position? It’s normally for them to experience what that position entails, receives or the dependency within the team of the quality of that positons outputs. When they go back to their natural position they then respect the other team member’s role and will endeavour to support them even further.
Performing: The ultimate goal is to have a high “Performing” team where no challenge or timescale is too difficult. However this cannot be sustained over long periods of time. Therefore when you require peak performance as a team leader you have to energise your team. Establishing the most effective working environment and get the team to talk regularly. If the team work remotely use skype or teleconferencing to keep everyone in the loop. They need to challenge the norms, share learnings and importantly be open about any failures without being embarrassed. James Dyson once said “if you haven’t failed you aren’t trying hard enough”. Ask the team to agree a critical path to any project and use visuals to focus on achieving a positive output within set timescales. Rather than getting too involved yourself, encourage someone within the team to take a “chair” role for a particular project. The chair can keep track of the project and be a central point of contact. This will then help build collaboration, cohesion, trust and commitment within the team to work effectively independently, rather than them waiting for you to make all the decisions or advise on the next step.
The final phase in team dynamics is “Adjourning”, relaxing and enjoying the rewards of becoming a winning team. Remember to celebrate and have some fun based on your successes.
“Great leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders”
A final note; most high performing teams eventually break up as key members will either be attracted or selected to go off to join or even lead new teams for a new challenge – and that’s not a failure but a true mark of a successful leader.
If you are looking to grow your business, Business Doctors Cumbria offer a free business health check where we can help you to set a clear vision and understand the steps you need to take to fulfil your aspirations.
For further information, please contact Peter Fleming 0845 163 1490 or 07966 686112 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org.