The 'Team' People
Build an effective and high performing team environment
There are six core elements of high performing teams, all of which need to be in place for a team to excel. Our role is to work closely to coach and facilitate teams to build sustainable team performance. These are not one off events teams that consistently achieve great results do so by continuing to work on their effectiveness as a team.
What triggers the need to intervene?
Teams don’t just form… to create a high performing team from a group of individuals requires time and effort and not just at the beginning. The team’s ongoing success depends on continually working on the team’s effectiveness.
Below are some of the triggers that prompt the need for teams to work on their effectiveness…
A new project, a new team, people leaving and joining.
Whether it is a senior leadership team, a team of people working together within a department or a team working on a project, when a group of people come together as a team there is a great deal to work on. The urge is often to focus on outputs and results, the task, and that’s where many team focus their time and efforts. Sadly with limited collective success.
With changes to the team makeup we always recommend starting on the relationships in the team. With close appreciative relationships founded on trust a team is far more likely to effectively address all the other elements necessary for success. It is the strength of the team relationship that allows the magic to happen. This is the foundation of team performance.
A second building block is having the right guiding principles and behaviours to ensure the team works well together. Other elements of team effectiveness can be worked on in parallel, but it is the closeness of the relationships and the way individuals interact with each other that is fundamentally the glue that bonds the team.
Organisational Change – restructuring, relocation, rationalisation.
“Change is as good as a rest they say”… who the $*@! are they and what do they know!
For the majority of us the opposite is most often true; change can be a extremely disruptive and very stressful time. The nature of the change can be wide ranging from the work itself, to the structure of the team, the size of the team or the location etc. For example individuals, as part of a newly merged team and/or part of a relocation, will have their own experience and expressions of what it means to them personally. What is insignificant or positive for one person may be significant and negative for another. Those leading teams need to recognise and understand these differences and find ways of supporting individuals through the period of change. Failing to do so can have serious and damaging long terms effects.
So for those teams undergoing significant change this needs to be carefully orchestrated and carefully lead. Building a deep insight and appreciation of what is occurring coupled with an awareness of the degree of alignment to the purpose and objectives is key. “Have individuals really committed to the ‘new’?” “Are they really on board with the proposed changes?” “How are they really feeling?” This is when the strength of the relationships in the team is really tested. In these challenging times those teams with stronger and closer relationships are the ones that come through more quickly and more effectively. With the right support we often find that these challenges can actually help the team become more effective and cement close working relationships. The team actually get s stronger.
Sadly the opposite is true and it is incredibly disruptive and destructive. Unhealthy competition drives the team apart and relationships fail. The team fragments and individuals look out for themselves. The atmosphere degenerates and performance drops. The damage can take years to rectify and often necessitates changes of people including the leader.
Performance and results need to improve.
There is simply a recognition that things could and should be better – the collective outputs and results just aren’t good enough and things need to change. The primary focus here is on identifying why performance isn’t as it should be and what is getting in the way. The initial work here is therefore identifying what’s not yet working; diagnosing the barriers to success.
We utilise our Team Performance Profile report to highlight what to focus on. This is a bespoke online survey that all team members (inc. the team’s leader) are invited to complete. It is an anonymous survey that asks 30 questions across what we belive are the six core elements that contribute to a team’s effectiveness and results:
- Clearly defined and understood Purpose
- Challenging Objectives and Plans
- Clearly defined Roles and Responsibilities
- Best people; capable & committed
- Efficient and effective ways of working
- Constructive Relationships, Values & Behaviours
From the survey we share the results with the whole team and collectively agree on the priorities and what actions will be taken to bring about change. This is a crucial part of the process; it needs to be inclusive and where possible ensure decisions are made with consensus. We want to see real commitment to the identified actions and changes.
Dysfunctional and in conflict.
Sometimes the team is a phase of conflict and dysfunction. There are host of causes but the the end result is the same; an unpleasant and difficult ‘team’ to be in. Sometimes it is as a result of strong capable and experienced team members who are competing instead of collaborating. They don’t trust each other and games are being played. Relationships are unhealthy and the behaviours are subversive. Sometimes this is open and it’s clear to anyone in and outside of the team what’s going on. Sometimes it’s hidden and it is more difficult to evidence – the atmosphere and the results tells the true story.
Newly promoted leaders of a team can also struggle to step up into their new position. The very people they are expected to lead and manage were yesterday their peers and colleagues, perhaps even friends. Often this is further complicated by resentment from one or two team members who also applied for the position and didn’t get it. The opportunity here is to intervene before things degenerate – to be preemptive and not remedial. This is for many a significant career transition moment and one of the key things to consider here is coaching for the team leader. (see the Individual – Promotion.)
“Chris is a superb facilitator, coach and mentor. He has worked with Speedy for a number of years, designing, developing and delivering leadership development to all levels of our management, from junior managers right through to the UK Managing Board. His style is very supportive and facilitative and he inspires confidence in others to embrace the development programme, partake in it actively and hence improve the benefit.”
Duncan. Group HR Director. Speedy Services PLC.
What outcome will we get?
Enhance effectiveness and efficiency
Taking time to work on the formal and informal processes and procedures improves the way the team works. It is about ensuring what they do is adding value and is therefore worthwhile and efficient. The outputs can be varied, depending on each team’s need, but will be focussed on making things easier and more effective. This will include reducing duplication and waste and simplifying processes and procedures.
Meetings are good example. Our work often creates agreement on what different types of meetings a team will have, who is involved and in what capacity, the tempo of those meetings, and the process of running the meetings (roles and responsibilities etc.) This ensures the right people are involved in the right way at the right time. Crucially it is not decided by the leader, it’s discussed and agreed by the team. This id done deliberately to ensure there is alignment and commitment. In addition this may link to exploring and agreeing on the decision making process and the principles that underpin and support the team’s decisions.
Develop a sense of connectivity, belonging and engagement
Team members that feel they belong. They understand and appreciate where the role fits in and the value they contribute to the team’s purpose. They have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and how they contribute to the team’s success (short, medium and long term.)
This drives up commitment. commitment to each other, commitment to the team and commitment to the work and therefore the organisation. People want to stay and want to be part of the team… they enjoy it! This often manifest itself as long term loyalty not just to the team but to the organisation. They feel secure and safe in the team and this encourages more open dialogue, disclosure and discussion. We see deeper more meaningful conversations taking place and we see more honesty and candour.
Improve trust, respect and relationships
This is the glue that holds it al together. The development of strong healthy relationships founded on trust. The team is protective and supportive of each and every member. Blame is replaced with accountability and support. Mistakes are admitted and vulnerability is shown; people ask for help and support when they need it and take accountability for failures knowing that the response will be to learn and move on.
The care and support offered to each other brings about a bond that holds the team together even in the most difficult of circumstances. When the pressure is really on and the challenge ramps up these teams draw together and find a way through. There is a resilience and robustness to the team that enables it to succeed.
Ensure clarity of structure, roles and responsibilities
The outcomes here are centred around who does what and who needs to interact with who. Validation of the structure and the roles; is the design of the team fit for purpose in terms of the work and the desired results? The world moves quickly and what was an effective structure 6 months ago may be a limiting factor today. In addition we help the team understand what each person is doing and not doing and where the interdependencies and synergies exist.
This is an inclusive and engaging process and team members share what is and what isn’t working for them – where they see gaps, overlaps and grey areas. And they agree how to allocate work and responsibilities and identify the need for changes.
Appreciate the value of enjoying work and having fun
The difference between arriving at work with energy, enthusiasm and excitement. Looking forward to what I do is a very different experience to dreading the day ahead. The difference in commitment and contribution is immense.
This is about building a workplace, a team environment, where people thrive and have fun. The mood and the atmosphere is positive and light when it can be and more serious when it needs to be. The point is it gives the team permission to have fun and enjoy what they do. This is about embedding enjoyment and laughter in the the day-to-day.
Fundamentally the team also needs to celebrate success. What is has achieved both in terms of outputs and outcomes. This helps the team to understand the importance and value of celebrating and praising the achievement, of individuals and the team.
Define your purpose and create a high performance culture
The team creates a clearly defined purpose that gives a direction and something to work towards. It is aspirational and constructive and is therefore something that motivates and engages.
A clear and aspirational team purpose also serves to align with the organisation’s purpose, strategy and and objectives. The team can therefore see a clear link and a value to what they are driving towards. They see why their contribution matters.
The final deliverable here is that the team has something to reference hewn it comes to decision making. Asking the question “Does what we are doing help us to achieve our out purpose?” is a great way for team to test the value of a piece of work. If the answer is “No” then “Why are we doing this?” ought to be the next question!
Series of facilitated sessions (4-6) combining ‘business as usual’ with input and coaching on team effectiveness and performance.
1-2-1 mentoring/coaching with team leader to provide off-line support and transfer capability and ownership.
Workshop to engage key stakeholders in creating and aligning on vision, mission, purpose, outcomes and setting a milestone plan.
Consultancy and on-going facilitation to drive the plan and ensure successful delivery of outputs and outcomes.
Team profiles e.g. MBTI, FIRO-B
Stakeholder analysis; Team 360
Team diagnostic e.g. Team Performance Profile and 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.