Great Teams Build Great Organisations and Great Organisations Build Great Teams!

ImageTop Performance requires us to ensure that top teams are set up, developed, nurtured and rewarded appropriately. Most companies miss this important point. Here is a summary of the insights from the ‘Top Performance through Top Teams’ session by Omar Khan held on the 21st of January 2014.

Inappropriate strategy deployed by the organisations to measure/improve business performance is one of the key reasons that teams remain average teams delivering average performance.

  1. They focus too much on individuals
  2. They focus too much on how to work than how it works (excessively process driven)
  3. They create and run ‘Vertical Organisations’ – Hierarchies are created to fix responsibilities, which in turn dilute the authority resulting in indecisiveness / delays/non fulfilment of commitments made to all stakeholders
  4. When an organisation faces a problem, if they have mediocre team members, they will strongly believe in maintaining/defending status-quo.
  5. The biggest untracked cost of such companies is commitments made and not followed up.

Therefore following are the appropriate strategy for the organisations to measure/improve business performance.

  1. Focus on Team Members/Teams and Networking of the team members and alignment of teams to the corporate change efforts/vision/mission of the organisations
  2. Focus on the influential team members/teams who will impact others positively to support the corporate change efforts
  3. Mobilise resources and align teams to the big picture
  4. The critical part for business performance we must remember, is, “Hard assets cannot deploy themselves. We require the committed human assets to use hard assets”
  5. Be non defensive in face of problems and track the cost of commitments not met

For top performance, every team must have:

  1. Burning platform – urgent and important things to handle well aligned with the organisational focus
  2. Visionaries and architects – to draw the blue print of what needs to be achieved and draw the plan to achieve it
  3. Enrol people – commitment is always volunteered, compliance can be ordered
  4. Build authentic relationships among the team members within and across teams

Therefore the key areas to focus on are:

  1. That people are committed to the business strategy
  2. Key operational goals are focused on
  3. There is enough clarity on roles and accountabilities
  4. Each member is aware of the team protocol / ground rules
  5. Build strong conversational capacity – differences are not buried; rather they are put on table, discussed and sorted out.

Suggested activity that can help us find out the current state of our teams are:

  1. Ask each team member to write 3 things they are doing.
  2. Compare the list with the business deliverable of the team as a unit
  3. This will reveal gap if any in what the organisation wants them to do, what they are doing and what they they should do to get on track

The following tools can be used to check the health of the teams and in turn the health of their performance.

  1. What are you spending time on?
    1. How each individual is supposed to work?
    2. How the team should work?
  2. Do we have a winning strategy, committed execution and relentless team building efforts being taken?
  3. What should be the approach?
    1. Who is the service star? It should not be one individual but the entire team should be the service star
    2. If you have a new team, you should be prescribing and directing and once they settle, coach them so that they understand why they do it
    3. Later, collaborate and work alongside them; the team leader should be the first among equals
    4. Finally build a team of leaders
  4. How good are the team members and teams at managing conflicts and exercising assertiveness?
    1. Highly cooperative  & Less competitive – You win/I lose cooperating
    2. Highly competitive & Less cooperative – I win /you lose competing
    3. Less cooperative & Less competitive – we both lose as we are  avoiding
    4. Medium Cooperative & Medium Competitive – we both lose compromising
    5. High Cooperative & High Competitive – we both win collaborating

Teams generally have the following two distructive attitudes when they play their team roles;

  1. Minimizing
    1. They cover up and go under ground
    2. Say yes and do no
    3. Hall-way dynamics they agree in the presence of all but personally don’t believe in the idea
    4. They draw premature conclusiions without understanding completely
    5. They change/avoid the topic when it comes to the discussion
    6. They don’t take people and their opinions with enough seriousness
    7. They have submissive body language
    8. They are always carrying worries on their shoulders and sometime they try to take other peoples worries too. The term ‘Monkey’ is used for these worries.  So they carry monkeys around or take on other peoples ‘Monkeys’.
    9. They cannot deliver their commitments
  1. Flame throwing
    1. Speak non- factually
    2. Dismiss/discount others’ views
    3. Campaign for support from others
    4. Listen selectively
    5. Interrupt and cut-off others
    6. Display aggressive body language
    7. Sarcastic/dismissive language
    8. React violently/protect themselves instantly to feedbacks
    9. They demonise people
    10. They ask belittling questions

Therefore what is necessary is to build conversational capacity among the team members by coaching them. The following two powerful lenses can be used.

1)     Lenses of Technical Problems

2)     Lenses of Adaptive problems

While the organisation needs to address the technical problems to boost up the business performance, it is important to address the underline adaptive problems such as quality of interpersonal relations among the team members, changes required in team thinking, communications, how do we engage with each other, how do we partner with each other etc. It is only when such issues are addressed using some of the guidelines in this blog that we can create the environment required for any teams to become a top team delivering top performance.

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