Have you ever wondered what makes a movie interesting? It is the crisis in the movie, even when it is a comedy or an animated children’s film there is some crisis and you will realise how boring that movie could be without that crisis. Similarly meetings become interesting when there is a crisis to deal with. A project becomes interesting when there is a crisis to deal with. A team becomes interesting when there is crisis between team members.
In my blog post on the 7th of May 2014 titled ‘How great is your team?’ I promised to go into details of the 11 different aspects that make a great team. The first six aspects regarding ‘Burning Platforms’, ‘Team Alignment around Critical Goals’, ‘Does Your Team have Clearly Agreed Way of Working?’, ‘A Great Decision-Making Process for a Great Team’, ‘Information Flow is Encouraged’, and ‘Great Leaders don’t Mince their Words’ have already been posted in this blog. Here is the seventh instalment regarding the 7th aspect; ‘Positive Crisis’.
What are the benefits of having such a crisis? When a crisis occurs the adrenaline levels of team members go up and this hormone and neurotransmitter activate their fight or flight response that makes them take action. When a crisis happens team members become inquisitive, they ask questions and they look for answers and this makes them more knowledgeable about the issue and related areas as a result. When a crisis happens people start talking about it and this encourages communications. When a crisis happen team members want to resolve it and therefore they start thinking of solutions enhancing their creativity and thinking skills. When crisis happens team members realise the inner desire to resolve it and this enhances their ownership mindset. When crisis happens team members start helping each other, forgetting past issues, prejudices and hidden agendas and this helps them become a closer team. Overall, when a crisis happens people get more engaged, they learn, they grow, they bond and they overall benefit as a team. Therefore teams become great teams when they have to deal with a crisis. Great teams know that it is important to have the crisis upfront, deal with it as a team positively. Great team leaders know the methodology of dealing with crisis effectively. Great team leaders even know how to create a crisis for the benefits of the team.
Consider this: A CEO of a retail chain is faced with dropping profits and identifies that the quality of fresh produce sold in his outlets as one of the main causes. This affects outlet operations as poor quality makes customers unhappy thereby losing customers and sales. This affects marketing as poor quality has a negative impact on brand image. This affects supply chain as rejecting poor quality supplies looses goodwill of suppliers. This affects finance as all this impacts cash flow. This became a focus issue for the CEO. The CEO could have taken a short cut, get a consultant to give some solutions or give the supply chain manager a month to resolve the issue. However he decides to use this to create a positive crisis. The supply chain manager and the finance manage has had a history of conflicts and they do not work well together. The CEO knowing this forms a team to resolve this issue with the supply chain manager, finance manager, marketing manager and outlet operations manager as project team members. He appoints the marketing manager as the leader of the project as she had good relations with all team members. He also briefs her about the potential conflict between the supply chain manager and finance manager and coaches her on how to first allow the conflict to flare and then how to use it to bring them together while solving the issue. She follows the guidelines with success. We need to also be mindful that crisis can have negative impact if not handled well and such approaches need to be taken being mindful of this. In the above example the leader could have made matters worse if he appointed a less suitable person to lead the team or if he had not briefed the leader well. The above guidelines will help build a strong team that is required to deliver the strategic and operational business priorities of the organisation.