It is fascinating how we continue to look for the right answer. Perhaps it is because of schooling systems which expects us to know the ‘right answer’ in order to pass examinations. Perhaps it is because of interviews panels that expect us to know the right answers in order to qualify for a job. Perhaps it is because of management who expects us to make the right decisions to business problems.
But what is a ‘Right Answer’? Who decides its right? By what standards do we decide it is right? Who sets these standards? People come from different backgrounds, education, experiences, cultures, mind-sets etc. The variables are almost infinite. Therefore we are all unique and we see, hear, feel, smell and taste things differently. Furthermore each situation is different. Each situation is a collection of places, time of the year, people, infrastructure, concepts, brands, climate, culture etc. Again the variables are infinite.
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.