You have just boarded a plane which is already 4 hours late after being given hope that it was going to take off earlier many times resulting in multiple visits to the boarding gate and back to the waiting lounge. Then you sit in the air craft for one more hour without the air conditioning working and no proper explanation from the crew for the reason for the delay. After one hour you are asked to de-plane as there is a technical problem in the aircraft. A further 3 hours wait biting into a sandwich provided by the airline with no clear apology for the delay. Attempts to find out about connecting flights falling on deaf years of annoyed ground staff. Back on the plane that thank fully moves. But it stops again. Pilot announces that we are waiting behind 7 other aircrafts to take off as we had missed our original slot. And finally the plane takes off after a 9 hour delay.
In this situation why do you think things went wrong? Who could have fixed it? Check-in manager? Pilot? head of Engineering? The CEO? Perhaps not anyone of them! Could it be all of them, if they had worked as one team? There could be individual hero’s who would have tried to make the passengers comfortable, speed up the boarding process etc. but it takes a team to make the difference.
Therefore it is clear we need teams when it is difficult for a group of people together to deliver a goal.
If you see similarities of the above situation in your workplace, perhaps you need to assess the quality of team work. Given below are the qualities of a great team. Rate your team against each of these qualities on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being poor to 5 being excellent.
- We have burning Platforms that unifies team. Rating: _____
A burning platform is a critical task that needs to get done before a crucial dead line that requires real teamwork. EG: Getting the ERP system running before the beginning of the next financial year. Getting the new product into the market before the heavy buying season. John F Kennedy created a burning platform when he said lets get a man on the moon safely in a decade from now!
- There is clarity about our critical goals. Rating: _____
If our goals are clear we know what we should do and should not do. When the British rowing team was preparing for the Olympics and had to make a decision they asked the question, ‘will this make the board go faster?’ This helped them to turned down dinner invitations and even attend the opening ceremony.
- We have clearly agreed ways of working: _____
There are 4 possible ways of working based on the responsibilities and roles of the team. These levels include strategic, tactical, operational and interactive. It is important for the team to have clarity and alignment regarding this and to know which other related teams operates in which way with clarity of the interface relationships.
- Clear decision-making process is present. Rating: _____
A good decision making process helps us to update each other regularly, consult each other early and work together to co-create value to our customer.
- Information flow is encouraged. Rating: _____
All information is encouraged, not just the good news. The messengers are not murdered but encouraged. All information conveyed is used positively to take the team towards its goal.
- Candour with respect is not just encouraged but it is a must. Rating: _____
Candor is an essential quality that is essential for a winning team. Jack Welch in his book ‘winning’ mentions that candor was an essential quality for any GE leader. Candor is about speaking out the truth with courage even if it would create conflict or hurt someone else. Good communicators also know how to select the right words, tonality and body language to make it as positive and productive as possible.
- Positive crisis is encouraged: Rating: _____
What makes a movie interesting is the crisis in it, even when it is a comedy or an animated children’s film. Similarly meetings become interesting when there is a crisis to deal with. It is important to have the crisis upfront, deal with it as a team positively.
- Conversations are constructive: Rating: _____
There is no nonsense in the conversation and no mascara to hide the ugly truth. Conversations are authentic, not fake or dormant. Examples of great conversations include:
- What was our biggest success this quarter? What did we learn from it? How do we use it in the next quarter?
- What was our biggest failure this quarter? What did we learn from it? How do we use it in the next quarter?
- What is the biggest swing we intend taking as a team in the next quarter? The conversations clearly define the swing, leads to detailed plans, resources get committed and action gets initiated.
- Radical Action Conversations are a way of life: Rating: _____
Radical Action Conversations are authentic. They go beneath the surface and deals with ‘adaptive’ issues that hinders real execution. Such conversations deals with engagement issues, honesty issues, relationship issues etc. that people may generally try to avoid to maintain false harmony. It encourages team members to be in ‘Adult’ mode rather than ‘Parent’ or ‘Child’ mode as described in ‘Transactional Analysis’. Such conversations are about identifying and dealing with assumptions team members make in their decisions, prejudices, actions, relationships etc.
10. Regular team building activities are conducted out of work: Rating: _____
Teams that learn together, sticks closer and work better. Therefore in addition to the team building that happens as an outcome of working together as described in this blog post, it is also important to have team building activities that include team celebrations, team journeys and team learning experiences.
11. The effectiveness of my team is regularly measured: Rating: _____
We don’t get what we expect. We get what we inspect. Things that are evaluated can be elevated. Therefore as teams make the difference in an organization measuring team effectiveness and taking action to improve is vital.
Once the ratings are totalled you can consider yourself having a GREAT team if you have a score of 50 or more, a GOOD team if you have a score of 39 to 48, an AVERAGE team if you have a score of 37 – 28 and a POOR team if the score is 27 or below.
POOR teams have team members working against each other, AVERAGE teams have team members tolerate each other, GOOD teams have team members working with each other and GREAT teams have team members working for each other.
Assets don’t deploy themselves. No one measures team effectiveness. It is the missing ingredient by which ‘potential’ becomes capability! Make each team a source of competitive advantage. Make each team an incubator of your culture and a leadership lab.
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